History & Culture

Mellau with the Hoher Freschen
Mellau at 1928
Mellau from the Hirschlitten in winter

The community of Mellau owes its origin as a short-term lower mountain pasture from farmers of Schwarzenberg (Black Mountain), who in the 13th century built a chapel and took up temporary residence in the vicinity of the Mellauer river. It was in the 14th Century, however that it became a permanent settlement and in 1464 a parish.

There are very little early history sources from Mellau; however it is proved that the village was hit by a epidemic plague during the Thirty Years' War. Chapels and the plague crosses at the village entrance still remember this period.

The inhabitants of the village, which lies at the mouth of the river Mellau as it enters the Bregenzer River, and surrounded by mountains, had to over the centuries repeatedly fight against the elemental forces of nature. Thus in the archives are reports of major floods in the years 1726, 1728, 1730 and 1910. More recently, it was the century flood of 2005, in the early morning hours of 23 August that caused immense damage to property and even swept away a previously evacuated house. The river in the Mellauer valley also overflowed its banks and flooded new areas to the extent that the road remained for many weeks impassable.
In 1870 Mellau was hit by a large fire disaster, with church, school, rectory and 18 other homes being victims to the flames. The avalanche winter of 1954, also had, the death of 5 lives, to report.

Despite the adversities of nature, Mellau beneath the Kanisfluh was already in the 19th Century known as a popular destination for tourists as summer freshness and mountaineering came in fashion. As early as 1889, a local embellishment Association was founded. After setbacks due to inflation in the 20's, and the 1000 Mark ban by Hitler; tourism experienced in the 50's, a new upswing. Many hotels and guest houses now dominate the village and are a testimony to the high flowering tourist trade in the 80s, when Mellau was the most frequented tourist town of the Bregenzerwald. This was expanded in 1973 with the opening of the Ski area of the Rossstelle with a cable car and four lifts.