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One common feature in the Inn valley are Kalvarienberg churches, or "Calvary-Hill"
churches. These are churches built on hilltops, or on the flanks of the mountains rising up from the valley floor. Along
the path leading up to each church are small chapels or, more commonly, posted paintings or sculptures depicting the
Stations of the Cross. The Stations of the Cross are representations of events in the finals hours of the life of Jesus
Christ prior to his execution on Calvary Hill. There are conventionally fourteen stations of the cross, but there is not
complete uniformity regarding which events are included, and some Kalvarienbergs have fewer than fourteen stations for
reasons of local geography. However, the consistent theme in Tirol is that, like Jesus Christ, one has to suffer a little bit by
climbing up the hill to the church.
The long image above takes one up a hiking path above Innsbruck to the Höttinger Bildkirche,
a Kalvarienberg above the village of Hötting on the north side of the Inn above Innsbruck. The trail leaves from the
Planötzenhof gasthaus and climbs a few hundred meters, with the Stations of the Cross as colorful paintings behind glass
in small birdhouse-like structures on posts, each one generally out of site from the one before. After the fourteenth station,
the trail reaches the Höttinger Bildkirche, a tiny church in the forests of the mountainside. The church and its fountain
are also a landmark for hikers and bikers on the slopes above Innsbruck.
These churches and their paths with the Stations of the Cross may seem like relics of the past, but they continue to be
sites of worship. On one rainy weekday morning in July 2007, I observed a group making their way up the trail, stopping
to sing at each of the stations on their way to worship at the church.
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