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The legend of King Laurin

Few know the legend of King Laurin, yet it is one of the most fascinating and mysterious stories in the Dolomites. This magnificent story is linked to the mountains explaining why these, when the sun goes down, turn pink taking on an aspect of pure charm and mystery. It is a folkloristic legend that for many years now has been handed down from father to son, also telling why the Dolomites are so famous among various tourists.

According to what this legend reports, near the Catinaccio, where you can also glimpse a snowy area in spring, a long time ago there was a garden of beautiful roses that belonged to King Laurin. Not surprisingly, in the German language the whole area of the Catinaccio is called Ronsegarten: Rose Garden. The flowers that were grown there were actually nothing short of beautiful and were cared for by a people of dwarfs who were headed by King Laurin himself.

The dwarves, however, in addition to taking care of the garden, dug in the bowels of the Dolomites to find precious materials such as gold, silver and various crystals for the King. Like any self-respecting king, Laurino also had magical objects and were mainly two: a cape thanks to which he could make himself invisible and a belt that, if worn, gave him a strength greater than of 12 men. For this reason he was respected by his subordinates and envied by his enemies. Furthermore, many were afraid of him precisely because of his immense strength and the wealth he possessed.

One day King Laurin, ruler of the Adige, decided to marry a beautiful princess named Similde (according to many, a truly beautiful woman), daughter of another important king. One day he was invited to a spring outing, but he lied, saying he would not show up for the event. However, he decided to come, but wearing his cloak of invisibility and practically performing the functions of the guest. However, when he saw Similde on a field, in the midst of a tournament between various riders, he fell in love with her. In the same instant he dropped his invisibility, stole Similde by loading her on a horse and fled from the place to his home in the Dolomites.

A knight named Hartwig was most angry: Similde had been promised to him and he was her promised husband. To track down and defeat King Laurin, Hartwig turned to the King of the Goths, Theodoric of Bern. They gathered a small army composed of various knights who followed Laurino to bring back the beautiful Similde. They reached the King right in front of the Rose Garden. Faced with such an array of knights, King Laurin could only rely on his own belt and once he wore it he gained the strength of 12 men. It was at that moment that he, without being afraid of the crushing forces of all the knights, threw himself against them in what was destined to be a hard fight. He fought with honor and the battle with the knights who desired the hand of the gentle Similde lasted for many hours.

Eventually, however, luck seemed to abandon him and when Laurino saw that his end was inevitable, he abandoned the fight, put on the cloak of invisibility and, convinced that he was not seen by any of the knights, he began to jump around the garden. Unfortunately, however, he was betrayed by the roses themselves, which moved thus also betraying his movements. The knights then took him, immobilized him and cut his magic belt. Without the cloak of invisibility and the belt, he became a normal man, no longer possessing any superpower.

Aware of this and how things went, Laurino took it out on fate, turned to the Rosengarten itself and cursed it. From that moment on, no one could have admired its magnificent flowers. That garden, night and day, would have been forever invisible to the human eye. However, in launching his curse, King Laurin forgot to mention the sunset: the transition from day to night. For this reason, during the sunset and sunrise hours, the pink hues of King Laurin’s garden can still be observed. In fact, in these hours, the Dolomites are painted with pink shades that recall the unparalleled beauty of roses.

Today in Bolzano you can find a statue made in honor of King Laurin. It is located in the provincial council and adjacent buildings, not far from the railway station. Furthermore, not far away is the Laurin hotel, named in honor of this mythological King. Inside this hotel you can even find a cycle of paintings completely dedicated to the law of King Laurin. All the canvases were made by the skilled artist Bruno Goldschmitt. To this is added a marble sculpture representing King Theodoric who submits King Laurin.