Innsbruck the capital of Austrian Tyrol is home to one of Europe’s most delightful historic old town centres. Framed by the peaks of breathtakingly beautiful Alps, it scores both as an Alpine playground and as a showcase for the Hapsburg empire’s heritage and it is as historic as it is modern – its uniqueness lies in the fact that a visitor can shop in a medieval city centre and in the next 20 minutes can enjoy a coffee in a restaurant at over 6000 feet above the sea level, enjoy out of the world views, buildings and sights which are over five centuries old, cutting edge architecture, a redesigned shopping boulevard, numerous museums, cultural events and culinary delights making a visit to the old town an immersive experience.
The highlights of a visit to the old town are:
- Hofburg – Imperial Palace
- Goldenes Dachl – The Golden Roof
- City Museum
- Tyrolean Folk Art Museum
- Hofkirche – The Court Church
- St. James Cathedral
a former Habsburg Palace: is considered one amongst the three most significant historic-cultural monuments in Austria besides Schonnbrunn and the Imperial Palace of Vienna. The original palace was built under the rule of Archduke Sigismund in 1460 A.D. The palace was expanded several times over the centuries under different rulers and reflects the architectural influences ranging from Renaissance to Baroque styles. While the exquisite exterior is attributed to Empress Maria Theresa, the interior is just as impressive with 20 rooms adorned with frescoes and murals. Today the Hofburg contains five themed museum areas – Empress Maria Theresa’s imperial apartments from the 18th century, Empress Elisabeth’s royal apartments from the 19th century, a furniture museum, an ancestral gallery and a painting gallery. The other areas of interest include a giant hall and a baroque cellar which gives visitors a sense of the elegance of the Habsburg royals, the Court Church houses the tomb of Emperor Maximilian I and the City tower offers sweeping views of the old city.The Golden Roof:
also known as ‘Goldenes Dachl’ is considered Innsbruck city’s main symbol.
The building that bears the Golden Roof was constructed by Archduke Friedrich IV in the early 15th century as the residence of the Tyrolean sovereigns. Completed in 1500 A.D. the roof was decorated with 2657 fire gilded copper tiles
to mark his second marriage to Maria Sforza. The Golden Roof was designed to serve as a royal box where the Emperor and his royal entourage could enjoy festivals, tourneys and other events that took place in the square below.
It is not only a popular site that attracts visitors globally but in early 2017, a popular romantic Hindi song for the blockbuster movie ‘Tiger Zinda hai’ was filmed here on actors Salman Khan and katrina kaif.
explains Innsbruck’s local history from its origins to the Olympic Winter games of 1976 in great detail. The permanent exhibition includes paintings of famous Tyrolean painters, over 100’000 historic photographs, graphic prints, medieval documents, artefacts, newspapers and posters.
Tyrolean Folk Art Museum:
is located just across the Imperial Palace next to the court church in the old town in the four wings of a former Franciscan monastery. It is considered one of the finest regional heritage museums in Europe
and it contains the most important collection of cultural artefacts from the Tyrol region. The permanent exhibition has an extensive collection of old handicrafts, traditional costumes, carnival masks, household items, glass and pottery textiles, peasant furniture, metalwork, religious and secular folk-art
shedding light on how Tiroleans lived in the past. The museum also houses 14 carefully restored wood panelled rooms from the Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo periods.
Hofkirche – The Court Church:
is located at the edge of the historic old town of Innsbruck between the Tirolean Regional Heritage Museum and the Imperial Court. It is a Gothic Church built in 1553 A.D. by Emperor Ferdinand I as a memorial to his grandfather Emperor Maximilian I
. Built in the traditional German form of hall church consisting of three naves with a setback three-sided choir and round and pointed arch windows. The Church interior contains galleries, high slender colonettes of red marble with Corinthian chapels. Other things of interest are the ‘Renaissance Pipe Organ’
dating back to 1560 A.D. is described locally as one of the five most famous organs in the world, the ornate black marble cenotaph of Emperor Maximilian I surrounded by 28 large bronze statues and the tomb of Tirolean national hero Andreas Hofer.
St. James Cathedral: often also referred to as Innsbruck cathedral with its two bell towers and impressive dome stands majestically over the old town. The Cathedral’s first mention dates back to a document from the 12th century as at the time it was described as a Romanesque Church while in the early 18th century this Baroque Cathedral was constructed. It has been an important part of the medieval Christian pilgrimage route – the way of St. James.
Inside the cathedral visitors can view high baroque ceiling frescoes depicting scenes from the life of St. James, the nine altars where the high altar is the showpiece of the Cathedral. Then the famous masterpiece Maria Hilf painting that became the most popular image of Madonna with child in the Alps, the canopied tomb of Archduke Maximilian III. Visitors can also enjoy the best views of the Cathedral as once the royalty did from the galleries of the choir. The organ in the west gallery has 3729 pipes and 57 registers and sounds alongside ‘Mariahilferglocke’ the second largest bell in Tyrol cast in 1846 A.D.