Innsbruck – the pearl of the Austrian Alps
Is it possible to quit your job, spend a year’s savings and go abroad to get to the usual province? You can if that province is the Austrian Tyrol .
Rest in the mountains
Going to Tyrol for the first time, many people think that there are only great ski tracks for skiers and snowboarders, and therefore wonder where to borrow warm sweaters and some sports equipment. And if you really want extreme sports and adrenaline rush, then welcome to Innsbruck. Because next to it, not only the capital of Tyrol, but also the two Winter Olympics, ski areas – six, ski elevators – 53, and the length of all the combined tracks – more than 3500 km. The most famous resorts are also here. There are more than six hundred mountain peaks. And even in the summertime you can ski: 5 glaciers, which are high in the mountains, allow to do it.
Rest in the mountains
Attractions: history and modernity
When you come down from the peaks you can see the sights of the capital. If you show interest in religious buildings, you can find them in plenty. These are the cathedrals of Hofkirche and St. Jacob, grim Franciscan monasteries, the old town hall. How diverse are the dialects and traditions of Tyrol, so numerous monuments of culture and architecture.
The famous golden roof in Innsbruck is a symbol of Gothic architecture: coats of arms, frescoes, gilded metal sheets on the balcony.
Attractions: History and Modernity
And here is the Ambras Palace, the former residence of the Kaiser and now a gallery with a collection of hundreds of pieces of art. Dozens of museums for a small province – a luxury. The most visited among them is the Swarovski Museum .
Attractions: history and modernity
Trazberg Castle, built in the 13th century in German Renaissance style, reeks of history: rare murals on the walls are classics of the period.
Attractions: history and modernity
The narrow streets of Hall captivate visitors with its Italian styled architecture, and explore the castle of Haszegg and the Mint.
A better destination is the Tyrolean Lech Natural Park, Europe’s last undeveloped river landscape, still in its pristine state. There are also dozens of lakes in the Tyrol, whose poetic scenery leaves a lasting imprint on the hearts of tourists. The Sameranger Lakes, high in the mountains, make you question the reality of the world: the water is so clear that it seems like there is no such thing.
For lovers of hiking Tyrol – a fertile place. The Debantal Valley is famous for the nature and culture trail, the “Cedar Trail” can be walked in the Tuke Alps . But the Stubai Trail will entice only the most desperate: It is an 8-day hike, but there is plenty to see and do. Mountain landscapes captivate with their beauty.
That’s what Tyrol is like. Still, it’s probably worth a trip to the Austrian countryside.
Innsbruck – the pearl of the Tyrolean Alps
Innsbruck – the capital of the Austrian Tyrol – a stunning city and a beautiful place, where you can not only ski in winter, but also have a great walk and relax with the whole family, for example, the May holidays.
If you come for a week, you are sure to find something to do. In Innsbruck and its surroundings there are a lot of interesting and scenic trails – for hiking and trekking in the mountains, people with different levels of training.
There are cable cars and even streetcars from the city to the mountains! The “Stubai Bahn” streetcar runs from the center of Innsbruck to the village of Fulpmes, located in the Stubaital Valley. Everything that characterizes Tyrol as a whole is concentrated in this relatively small town.
Draw your own conclusions:
- Innsbruck is a city of young people, about 40 thousand students from different countries study here.
- Innsbruck – the imperial city: Emperor Maximilian I lived and ruled here, today any tourist can visit his palace.
- The city of museums: Innsbruck has 18 museums for every 140,000 people!
- The city combines nature and architecture, old buildings and new ones in a very harmonious way.
- Innsbruck is a safe city.
Innsbruck, from almost anywhere in the city you can see the mountains! For residents of huge metropolises it may seem like a fairy tale.
Traditionally, the best way to get to know Innsbruck is to start from the center – the Old Town. Innsbruck has a very small Old Town – only two or three streets connected by a few lanes.
The House with the Golden Roof is one of the main symbols of Innsbruck. As far back as V centuries ago, the roof of one of the balconies was decorated by order of Emperor Maximilian I with exactly 2,657 gilded copper tiles.
All of the tiles have survived to this day – despite legends of the theft and disappearance of individual tiles costing 1,500 euros each. Today, the building houses a museum, and in the summertime it is very popular for weddings.
Next to the House with the Golden Roof is the building of the City Tower. The structure has a somewhat unusual shape – as if the main tower was put on a dressed cap. The tower was built in the 15th century as a guardhouse, and more than 100 years later it was decorated with an onion dome. The height of the tower is 56 meters, inside there are stairs that can be used to climb to the top and look at the city from the bird’s eye view. Most buildings in the Old City have a false facade and form a single ensemble, and the bay windows of all houses are lushly decorated.
In the old town there are many cafes and restaurants, each of which has its own ancient and rich history. Pay attention to “Ottoburg” – in the end of XV century there was a town hall here, and now there is a cozy restaurant, interesting not only by its excellent cuisine, but also by the architecture of the building itself. Opposite it is a small Turkish quarter where they sell cheap but, judging by the number of tourists, quality fast food such as kebabs. Nearby is the entrance to the city’s most popular youth hangout.
Another interesting café is the Sacher. There are only three such cafes in the world: in Vienna, in Salzburg, and here in Innsbruck. The café serves a real Sacher cake, made according to a unique recipe, which is known only to the initiated. The filling can be apple, cottage cheese or cherry, with an obligatory scoop of ice cream or whipped cream and vanilla syrup.
In addition to the popular Tyrolean strudel, bacon and pumpkin seed butter are considered local delicacies. Tyrolean bacon is a piece of smoked meat with a little bit of lard.
Maria Theresa Street
This central and ancient shopping street is one of the main streets of the city and its calling card. It is named after the Empress, who did a lot for Innsbruck. Part of the street is pedestrian, and the beautiful benches, elegant fixtures and paving stones create a feeling of coziness. There are also many malls and stores, art boutiques and small shops.
In the middle of the pedestrian part of the street stands the column of St. Anne, which was erected to commemorate the events of July 26, 1703, when the people of Tyrol prevented the Bavarians to conquer the city.
The historic buildings blend in very harmoniously with the modern ones: The shopping centers “Galerie Rathaus” and “Tirol” blend in perfectly with the general ensemble of the city. On the top floor of the Town Hall Gallery there is a panoramic observation deck, which can be reached by elevator.
Looking north from St. Anne’s Column directly above the Golden Roof, the majestic peaks of the Nordkette mountain range rise high above the House with its golden roof, and to the south is one of Innsbruck’s most modern buildings, the Bergisel ski-jump.
Imperial Palace Hofburg
The palace was built in the middle of the 18th century by Empress Maria Theresia in the late Baroque style. It was originally built much earlier, in the 15th century, and during this time it belonged to several generations of rulers, each of whom changed its appearance.
Inside the palace, there are 27 imperial rooms, ballrooms, bedrooms and dining rooms. Here are also preserved furnishings of 3 centuries ago – furniture, dishes, mirrors. The walls of the front hall are decorated with portraits of members of imperial families from different generations.
In the 19th century, some rooms of the palace were again reconstructed for Empress Elisabeth, but she visited the palace rarely, unlike her husband, Emperor Franz Joseph, who lived in the Hofburg.
Next to the Hofburg is the palace church, the Hofkirche. It is also called the “Church of the 28 Black Men” – 28 bronze statues over two meters high each guard the empty tomb of Emperor Maximilian I.
Most of the statues have real prototypes – for example, statues of both the emperor’s wives – Maria of Burgundy and Maria Sforza, the statue of the king of Portugal – Ferdinand and others. Some statues were cast during the emperor’s lifetime, but most, decades after his death thanks to his grandson.
For reasons unknown, the body of Emperor Maximilian I himself was never buried in the sarcophagus he had prepared for himself; it is now buried in Wiener Neustadt near Vienna.
Not far from the Hofburg Palace is the Hofgarten Park. In the fifteenth century, the park was the site of an imperial kitchen garden, where herbs and vegetables were grown for the emperor’s table. The park, in Italian style, was laid out under Emperor Maximilian I at the beginning of the 17th century: smooth paths, flower beds, neatly trimmed lawns and bushes, a pond with ducks and water lilies. Some of the trees in the park are over 300 years old! You can take a horse-drawn carriage ride along the park’s side path.
Next to the Hofgarten is an interesting futuristic structure that looks like a block of ice or a giant seashell.
Arc de Triomphe
This imposing structure is located at the end of Maria Theresia Street and commemorates a tragic event in the life of the imperial family.
In 1765, Maria Theresia’s son Leopold II married Princess Maria Luisa of Spain. The wedding was magnificent, attended by more than 2 thousand guests, it lasted two weeks. The celebrations were interrupted by the sudden death of Emperor Franz Stephan, Maria Theresia’s consort. The emperor was buried in the imperial crypt in Vienna. Maria Theresia had the room where he died rebuilt into a chapel, opened a convent where twelve nuns prayed daily for the soul of the deceased emperor and had the Arc de Triomphe built in the city center.
The northern side of the Arc de Triomphe, which faces Maria Theresa Street, depicts the happy episodes of the wedding, while the other, the southern side, depicts the mournful moments of the death and burial of the empress’s consort.
Bergisel mountain ramp
Innsbruck was the site of two Winter Olympics, in 1964 and 1976, but the ski jump on Mount Bergisel came much earlier. The very first wooden ski jumping competitions were held here in 1925.
In 1930 the ski jump was built from more reliable materials, which allowed in 1933 in Innsbruck – World Championships in ski sports. In January 1953 took place the first “Four Hills Tournament”, which later became the traditional annual competition.
In 1999 a competition was announced for the design of a new ski jump that would meet all international requirements. The company “Zaha Hadid Architects” won the contest, the head of which was the famous British architect Zaha Hadid. The construction lasted 15 months, and the cost of the project was more than 15 million euros. On September 14, 2002 the official opening of this unique round-shaped sports facility resembling a flying saucer took place. Training of athletes is carried out not only in winter but also in summer.
The height of the ski jump is about 50 m and the capacity is 28,000 spectators. The highest point of the ski jump is about 250 meters above the city, with stunning panoramic views of Innsbruck. To get to the top can be up in 2-3 minutes by cable car or on foot overcoming 455 steps.
Museum “Panorama Tyrol
In 1809 on Mount Bergisel the decisive battles for the independence of Tyrol under the leadership of national hero Andreas Hofer took place. A small park on the mountain, with a monument to the heroes of the uprising, commemorates these events.
In 2011 on the site opened a new museum “Panorama Tyrol”, where a painting measuring a thousand square meters, painted in the late XIX century and is dedicated to the liberation struggle in the Tyrol. The canvas is arranged in a circle with a 360-degree view, allowing you to feel the atmosphere of the time.
In the museum building there is also a cozy restaurant with a magnificent panoramic view of the city. You can climb the Bergisel mountain on foot, as well as take a sightseeing bus or a cab.
At the foot of the mountain is the magnificent Wilten Basilica, a parish church from the 13th century, which is considered the most beautiful Rococo church in Austria. The world famous Vilten Boys Choir rehearses there.
The Ambras Castle Museum is located on the southeastern outskirts of Innsbruck. This two-part palace complex was commissioned in the 16th century by Duke Ferdinand II, who encouraged the development of science and art and established a museum in the palace with a collection of arms, paintings and antiques.
The Upper Castle on the three floors is located art gallery, where there are more than 200 portraits of the Habsburg dynasty by famous artists: Antonis More, Titian, Van Dyck, Diego Velazquez. In the Lower Castle there is a hall with weapons, a cabinet of curiosities, unusual musical instruments, ancient scientific instruments and other curiosities.
Around the castles is a magnificent park in the English style with a large pond, ducks, swans and real peacocks.
The Innsbruck funicular leading from the city center to Mount Hungerburg is another famous project of the legendary Zaha Hadid.
The funicular consists of four stations, different in appearance, but made in the same “ice” style, connected by rails, on which every 10-15 minutes a carriage leaves. Climbing takes no more than 10 minutes.
At the third stop is located – Alpine Zoo. It contains – horses, buffalo, moose, bears, a variety of birds and amphibians.
After climbing up to a height of 560 meters on the funicular railway, you can continue up, using the cable car that reaches a height of about 2000 meters on the mountain Seegrube.
The Ferdinandeum Museum in Tyrol, an Austrian local history museum, was founded in 1823 by Count Karl Hotk and became the third oldest national museum in Austria-Hungary.
The facade of the museum is in the style of the Florentine Renaissance. In addition to the basic local history exhibits, the museum houses works of art donated by collectors from all over the country. The museum received an inheritance of 111 paintings by Dutch masters from Josef Chader in 1856. Thirty-one years later, the collection was expanded with paintings by Flemish artists, which were donated by Ludwig von Wieser. One of the largest donations was a gift from Bernhard Hefel, who bequeathed more than a hundred paintings to Ferdinandeum in 1943. Today, the museum’s exposition spans the period from the early Middle Ages and the baroque of the 19th century to the present day.
The museum is especially proud of its fine Dutch collection, which includes paintings by Rembrandt, Bruegel, Jakob Steiner and others.
In the Ferdinandeum exhibitions, concerts and thematic meetings are regularly held. In 2007 the Tyrol Ferdinandeum became an integral part of the Tyrol State Museum, which includes the Folk Art Museum, the Imperial War Museum, the Tirol Panorama and the Arsenal.
The Swarovski Crystal Worlds Museum
The museum was opened in 1955 for the centenary of the company Swarovski and is situated 15 minutes from Innsbruck, in the town of Wattens. Its creator was the artist Andre Heller. In the 20 years of its existence, the museum has been visited by more than 12 million people.
In April 2015, it reopened in a renewed form. The most amazing exhibit is the Crystal Cloud, woven from 600,000 crystals, as if floating above the lake. When the sun rises cloud shimmers with all the facets of its crystals.
Crystal Museum is a whole complex for family walks, recreation and entertainment, designed in a fabulous style. For children, there is a 20-meter play tower where children of different ages can play in several halls. There is a gorgeous garden with a real river, lots of trees and flowers.
In one of the 16 halls is a large specialty store, to get into the store, do not necessarily buy a ticket – admission is free.
From the center of Innsbruck to the museum “Crystal Worlds Swarovski” several times a day takes a free bus.