High in the alps, near the borders of Austria, Switzerland and Italy is a large lake that might, at first glance seem perfectly natural. That is, until one sets eyes on the unusual spire of an old church piercing the waterline. Legend has it that during winter, the bells of the drowned church in Reschensee/ Lago di Resia/ Lake Reschen, can mysteriously be heard ringing out through the valley. The bells were in fact removed before an Italian electricity company flooded the lake in the 1950s, swallowing the villages of Graun and Reschen in the process.
Reschensee is quite an Austrian sounding name and the initial confusion would stem from the South Tirol region’ s 20th century history. As part of the Austro-Hungarian empire the territory was offered to Italy by Britain as an incentive to join the first world war on the side of the Allies. In 1919 this became a reality and the autonomous provence was formed as we know it in 1929, although there was a brief period of German occupation from 1943-1945 when Italy surrendered during WWII.
Lake Reschen’s submerged church of Alt-Graun dates back to the 14th century. As can be seen in the image on the right, the nave was quite sizable but it was demolished, along with many of the villages’ other structures before the dam was completed in 1950, after ten troubled years of construction.