Surrounded by beautiful apple orchards, the fruit symbol of the valley, Cles (Glöβ in German) is the main center of Val di Non, situated on a sunny plateau with panoramic views of the Brenta Dolomites, on the western shore of Lake Santa Giustina.
The name, attested as early as 1144 (de Clesio) derives, in all probability, from the Latin "ecclesiae" (churches) to support this argument there is a parchment of 1185, in which the inhabitants of the village are called "ecclesienses".
It is, without doubt, a center of ancient origins, as witnessed by archaeological discoveries dating back to the Neolithic and the Bronze Ages. The inhabitants played a key role in the early centuries after Christ, as revealed by the discovery of numerous Roman coins, inscriptions (including the famous Tabula Clesiana) and some valuable funerary stelaes. The territories submitted the dominion of the prince-bishops of Trent from 1004 to 1803 and from Cles, takes its name of the most noble and illustrious families of the Trentino area, between whose famous descendants include Bernardo Cles, Prince-Bishop of Trento and architect of the Council of Trent.
One of the most prosperous fruit and vegetable commercial centers in the region, is the ideal destination for a relaxing holiday for long walks in the open air, to discover the most picturesque views of the Val di Non and, why not, to admire the spectacular scenery apple trees in bloom (April and May) or for water sports on Lake Santa Giustina.
Not to miss:
- the Castel of Cles, majestic and picturesque, situated on an isolated hill near the lake of Santa Giustina. Although the earliest remains date back to the XII century, the castle was enlarged and enriched in pure Renaissance style, thanks to the influence of the prince-bishop Bernardo Cles. Privately owned, it features two towers, rich allegorical frescoes on the façade, punctuated by arches and windows with architraves; valuable frescoes adorn the interior rooms;
- the Council's Palace, which belonged to an aristocratic family of Cles, since 1356. Above the entrance portal Gothic arch there is an imposing coat of arms painted in 1679, in which stands out the emblem of the Clesio Family. The façade is enlivened by four Gothic windows, enriched with battlements, embrasures, two trap doors for the front crown and a projection supported by large stone corbels. Inside, some of the rooms retain the old wooden coffered ceilings;
- the ancient and monumental Church of the Assumption, located in the main square, mentioned already in the XII century. Rebuilt in Clesian Gothic style in the XVI century and features a main entrance topped by a bezel decorated with a fresco of the Annunciation, a beautiful rose window and a gable roof. The emblem of the Clesio is present in every corner. The interior features a single nave and an XVIII century altar and a contemporary altarpiece, painted by Pietro Antonio Lorenzoni of Cles. It is flanked by a slender Gothic Bell Tower;
- the Church of St. Anthony, in the district of Spinaceda, attached to the convent of the Franciscans, enriched with valuable paintings by Giuseppe Alberti and Unterperger;
- the Church of St. Vigil, in the district of Pez, already mentioned in documents that date back to 911. It is the oldest in the country and its churchyard the heads of the families of Cled used to assemble periodically to decide on the most important issues of the Community. It is characterized by a steep pitched roof and a small cusp. On the façade stands a Renaissance portal and traces of frescoes. Canvases, paintings and frescoes of the XVI century adorn the interior of the building;
- the Church of Saint Lucia, in Caltron, prior to 1326 and rebuilt in the XVII century. Inside is worthy of a visit the beautiful gilded altar carved by the Ramus brothers;
- the Church of Saints Peter and Paul, first mentioned in 1348, has a long history, as revealed by the traces of the early Middle Ages and several archaeological finds. It features a single nave with a polygonal apse and bells incorporated in the façade. Inside is preserved an altar in polychrome wood equipped with gilded sculptures, produced by the artschool of Strobl in 1656, as attested by the date painted in a folder of the base;
- the Church of St. Thomas preserves an altar embellished wooden painted sculptures on the sides and a valuable altarpiece, which date back to 1672, while its extension, built in the second decade of the XVIII century, is decorated by two monumental chandeliers and a polychrome wooden altarpiece;
- the Church of San Vito (XIII century);
- the Church of San Lorenzo, in the village of Mechel, of very ancient origins, although it is mentioned only in 1390;
- the small wooden Bridge of Roman origins, which was built to defend the first settlement, for over half a century it was submerged by the waters of the artificial lake of Santa Giustina;
- the Tabula Clesiana, currently on display at the Historical Museum of Trento, while a reproduction is proudly displayed in the square in front of the Town Hall. It was brought to light in "Campi Neri" in 1869 and it is an edict issued in 46 A.D. by Emperor Tiberius, which granted Roman citizenship to the people of Anauni, Sindoni and Tuliassi;
- Lake Santa Giustina, an artificial basin that fits perfectly into the natural environment of the Val di Non. It was built in the 50s of the XX century, to collect water from the catchment area of the river Noce.