Friday, 27 April 2012



Innsbruck is the capital city of the federal state of Tyrol in western Austria. It is located in the Inn Valley at the junction with the Wipptal (Sill River), which provides access to the Brenner Pass, some 30 km (18.6 mi) south of Innsbruck. Located in the broad valley between high mountains, the Nordkette (Hafelekar, 2,334 metres or 7,657 feet in the north, Patscherkofel (2,246 m or 7,369 ft) and Serles (2,718 m or 8,917 ft) in the south.  The word bruck comes from the German word Brücke meaning "bridge" which leads to "the bridge over the Inn".

The Hofkirche
The first mention of Innsbruck dates back to the name Oeni Pontum or Oeni Pons which is Latin for bridge (pons) over the Inn (Oenus), which was an important crossing point over the river Inn. The city's seal and coat of arms show a bird's-eye view of the Inn bridge, a design used since 1267. The route over the Brenner Pass was then a major transport and communications link between the north and the south, and the easiest route across the Alps. The revenues generated by serving as a transit station enabled the city to flourish.

Innsbruck became the capital of all Tyrol in 1429 and in the fifteenth century the city became a centre of European politics and culture as emperor Maximilian I also resided in Innsbruck in the 1490s. The city benefited from the emperor's presence as can be seen for example in the so called Hofkirche. Here a funeral monument for Maximilian was planned and erected partly by his successors. The ensemble with a cenotaph and the bronze statues of real and mythical ancestors of the Habsburgian emperor are one of the main artistic monuments of Innsbruck.

Due to its location between high mountains, Innsbruck serves as an ideal place for skiing in winter, and mountaineering in summer. There are several ski resorts around Innsbruck, with the Nordkette served by a cable car and additional chair lifts further up. The Winter Olympic Games were held in Innsbruck twice, first in 1964, then again in 1976, when Colorado voters rejected a bond referendum in 1972 to finance the Denver games, originally awarded in 1970. The 1976 Winter Olympics were the last games held in the German-speaking Alps (Austria, Germany, or Switzerland).

Enjoy an unforgettable shopping experience in the centre of Innsbruck in the Rathausgalerien or Kaufhaus Tyrol shopping centres. Or browse for souvenirs and exquisite gifts in the plethora of little shops in the Old Town. Discover the beauty of traditional Tyrolean handicrafts or treat yourself to a culinary keepsake.

Sometimes souvenirs just have to taste good, and in this respect, you'll quickly find what you want in Innsbruck. If you're looking for something to give to someone with a sweet tooth, then you should head for Konditorei Munding, the most traditional confectioner’s in town, for some ‘Golden Roof shingles’. Just as delicious are ‘golden tiles’ from Zimt & Zucker, while Rajsigl stocks ‘Tiroler Edle’ bars as well as Konditorei Pichler’s high-quality chocolate products. You don’t have to go all the way to Vienna to treat your friends and acquaintances to an original Sachertorte, either:Café Sacher offers this Austrian speciality in three sizes, packed in attractive wooden boxes carrying the Sacher logo. 

Maybe a ‘Tyrolean single malt’ – a full, smooth whisky – or schnaps from red Williams pears, distilled in the Eastern part of the Tyrol, is the perfect souvenir for a special someone? Although you may prefer ‘Goldenes Dachl’ champagne – a truly precious drop that contains not only champagne bubbles, but gold leaf, too!

All kinds of other things that come in bottles are available at vom Fass, in Anichstrasse. Here wines, liqueurs, fine distillates, sherry and aromatic oil and vinegar varieties stored in large glass demijohns and earthenware jars that can be sampled, taken home in decorative glass bottles - and make a perfect gift.

Tyrolean farm produce such as cheese, honey, fruit juices, bread, fruit and vegetables are sold at the weekly farmers' markets – as well as every Saturday morning in the ‘Markthalle’.

                                                        Innsbruck’s Top 5:
  1. The Golden Roof.  The Golden Roof was built by Archduke Friedrich IV in the early 15th century as the residence of the Tirolean sovereigns. The Golden Roof actually is the three-story balcony on the central plaza at the heart of the Old Town. It was constructed for Emperor Maximilian I to serve as a royal box where he could sit in state and enjoy tournaments in the square below. Completed at the dawn of the 16th century, the Golden Roof was built in honor of Maximilian's second marriage, to Bianca Maria Sforza of Milan. Not wishing to alienate the allies gained by his first marriage, to Maria of Burgundy, he had an image of himself between the two women painted on his balcony. Jacob Hutter, founder of the Hutterites was burned at the stake at this site on 25 February 1536 for his Anabaptist beliefs and activities.
  2. Imperial Palace.  At the end of the 15th century,  Emperor Maximilian I. held court at Innsbruck in the Imperial Palace. Empress Maria Theresia renovated the existing palace in the monumental baroque style.  After extensive renovations, the state rooms and sacred area of the Imperial Palace are open to the public. The Giants’ Hall, the most prestigious ballroom in the Alps (with all portraits of Maria Theresa’s imperial family), the Guard Hall and the Lorraine room gleam in new splendour. The same applies to the court chapel and sacristy, the chambers and the refurbished Imperial Apartments
  3. The Hofkirche  is a Gothic church built 1553–1563 by Ferdinand I as a memorial to his grandfather Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor (1459–1519), whose cenotaph within boasts a remarkable collection of German Renaissance sculpture. It also contains the tomb of Andreas Hofer, Tirol's national hero. Although Maximilian's will had directed that he be buried in the castle chapel in Wiener Neustadt, it proved impractical to construct there the large memorial whose plans he had supervised in detail, and Ferdinand I as executor planned construction of a new church and monastery in Innsbruck for a suitable memorial. In the end, however, Maximilian's simple tomb remained in Wiener Neustadt and the Hofkirche serves as a cenotaph.
  4. St Jacobs Cathedral.  The heavily baroque style cathedral was built between 1717 and 1724 in the place of older churches on the same site. The famous picture of Virgin Mary, named "Mariahilf" (Mary help us) is situated at the altar and was painted by Lukas Cranach the older. The frescos and stucco work date from the brothers Asam.
    Every day at 12.12 noon the Innsbruck peace bells ring from the north tower of the cathedral. The tomb of Archduke Maximilian II was already erected in 1629 and was originally placed in the church predecessing this cathedral. During renovation works between 1990 and 1993 a modern subchurch was built to give pilgrims and other visitors the possibility for a quiet prayer.
  5. Ambras Castle (Schloss Ambras)  Situated in the hills above Innsbruck, the Castle of Ambras is one of the most important sights of the city. Its cultural and historical importance is closely connected with Archduke Ferdinand II and was a residence of his from 1563 to 1595. In the lower part of the castle there are two rooms containing arms and armor, on the first floor a valuable art collection and in the upper part of the castle, the bathroom of Ferdinand's wife Philippine Welser. The Spanish hall between the lower and upper part of the castles is a notable example of German Renaissance architecture and is adorned with frescoes on the walls. A fort existed on the site of the modern-day castle as early as the 10th century and was the seat of the House of Andechs. This fort was destroyed in 1133 and no traces of it remain, although some of the material from the original fort was used in the modern building. The modern Ambras was built by Archduke Ferdinand II, the second son of Emperor Ferdinand I.  The castle was used as the official residence of Philippine as well as a place for Ferdinand to house his collections of weapons, armour, portraits, and curiosities.

    Castle Ambras

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