In the Val Passiria valley, the memorial and the museum of the Tyrolean freedom fighter Andreas Hofer (1767 - 1810) is located.
Andreas Hofer, born on the 22nd of November 1767 as the last of four children in San Leonardo di Passiria (St. Leonhard in Passeier), lost his mother when he was three years old, and only a few years later also his father. At the age of majority, he inherited the Sandwirt tavern - his birth house - and started working as an innkeeper, wine merchant and horse trader. When Hofer was about 40 years old, Tyrol was under Bavarian rule: the Bavarians started reformations, also regarding religious traditions, leading to a struggle between the ordinary people and the clergy.
The forced recruitment of Tyroleans for Bavarian troops was the trigger for the Tyrolean Rebellion in April 1809. Andreas Hofer became the effective commander-in-chief of the countermovement and the Tyrolean rebels, supported not only by other leaders such as Josef Speckbacher and Father Joachim Haspinger, but also by 18,000 people from the Trentino. Andreas Hofer helped provide the victory in the battles of Vipiteno and Innsbruck, among others in the famous Bergisel battle (made up of three battles, in fact) against the French troops under Napoleon who were allied with the Bavarians. The 3rd Bergisel battle was immortalized on the famous Cyclorama of Innsbruck, which still today can be admired at THE TYROL PANORAMA with Kaiserjäger Museum.
The last battle at Mt. Isel, however, took place on the 1st of November 1809 and was lost. Andreas Hofer had to flee and hid in a hut in the mountains, at the Malga Pfandler alpine pasture in the Val Passiria valley. Betrayed by a compatriot, he was found by French troops after two months and brought to Mantova. On the 20th of February 1810, Andreas Hofer was executed in Mantova by a firing squad of the court martial. His body was buried in Mantova, but in 1823 Hofer’s remains were moved to Bolzano by the Tyrolean Imperial Infantry, and in 1834 finally to Innsbruck. Andreas Hofer was father of six daughters and a son - almost 100 years have passed since the last male member of the “Hofer von Passeyr” dynasty, Hofer’s great-grandson, died in Vienna in 1921.
Nowadays, in San Leonardo in Passiria in South Tyrol (Italy) the historical site Malga Pfandler, the museum of the Tyrolean freedom fighter (MuseumPasseier) and a circular path dedicated to Andreas Hofer are located. In Innsbruck in North Tyrol (Austria), however, his mortal remains were laid to rest in the Court Church, and the song “Zu Mantua in Banden”, telling the story of Hofer’s tragic fate and execution, has become the anthem of the State of Tyrol. By the way: also the tradition of the Sacred Heart Fires came into being in those decades!