Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Innsbruck
Innsbruck lies in the wide Inn valley at the intersection of two important traffic routes, between Germany and Italy and between Vienna and Switzerland. Innsbruck still preserves its medieval core, the historic old town with its narrow, twisting streets and tall houses in Late Gothic style, many of them with handsome oriel windows and fine doorways. The newer parts of the town lie outside this central nucleus, particularly to the east and north.
From all over the city there are vistas of the ring of mountains which rear up above the gentler terraces of lower ground on which it lies. To the north rise the jagged peaks of the Nordkette (North Chain), in the Karwendel range; to the south, above the wooded Bergisel ridge, the Saile (2,403m/7,887ft) and the Serles group (2,718m/8,920ft); and to the southeast, above the Lanser Köpfe, the rounded summit of the Patscherkofel (2,247m/7,375ft), so popular with skiers. New sports facilities were built for the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympic Games, and these are now the scene every year of national and international sporting contests. Innsbruck is a university town and the see of a bishop, but also has a variety of industry and holds regular trade fairs. Thanks to the mountains which shelter it from the north winds it benefits from a mild climate and is the major tourist center of Tirol. Bronze Age remains found here point to the establishment of human settlement on the site at a very early stage. Evidence has also been found of later occupation by the Illyrians and the Romans. Soon after the beginning of the Christian era a small Roman fort (Veldidena) was established in the plain bordering the river, but this was later destroyed. The site was occupied in the 12th C. by a monastery of Premonstratensian Canons, which took over the Roman name in the form Wilten. The real foundation of the town dates from 1180, when the Count of Andechs established a market settlement at a bridge over the river (Innspruke, "Inn bridge"). In 1239 Innsbruck was granted the status of a town, and thereafter it was surrounded by walls and towers. In 1363 it passed to a junior branch of the Habsburgs, and from 1420 to 1665 was a ducal residence. Under the Emperor Maximilian I (1490-1519) it became an administrative capital and a focal point for art and culture. At the first population census in 1567 it numbered 5,050 citizens. The university was founded in 1669. In 1703 the Bavarians tried unsuccessfully to take Innsbruck and the whole of Tirol, but under pressure from Napoleon Tirol was ceded to Bavaria in 1806. Later, in spite of a successful war of liberation and victories in battles on the Bergisel (1809, under the leadership of Andreas Hofer), Tirol was again returned to Bavaria. The Congress of Vienna (1814-15), however, assigned it to Austria, and Innsbruck now became capital of the province of Tirol. The construction of the Brenner railroad (1867) marked the beginning of a period of industrialization and steady growth.