Innsbruck Tourist Attractions
Innsbruck, the old provincial capital of Tirol, lies in the wide Inn valley at the intersection of two important traffic routes, between Germany and Italy and between Vienna and Switzerland.
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. 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. 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.
Tirolese Museum of Folk Art
Adjoining the Innsbruck Hofkirche (Court Church) on the east, in the Neues Stift (New Abbey) or Theresianum (16th and 18th C.) can be found the Tirolese Museum of Folk Art. The museum's extensive collections, excellently displayed on three floors, include more than 20 Tirolese rooms, including brick-built houses with oriel windows from the Upper Inn valley and half-timbered houses from the Ziller valley, and a rich store of costumes, peasant furniture and tools from the various regions of Tirol, glass and pottery, cane chairs and textiles and metalwork, There is also a collection of Nativity groups from the 18th C. to the present day. In the cloister on the west side of the building lies the tomb of the Innsbruck sculptor Alexander Colin (d. 1612), by Colin himself.The museum also plays host to numerous temporary exhibitions.
Address: Universitästrasse 2, A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria
Opening hours: Jul 1 to Aug 31: 9am-5:30pm; Sun: 10am-5:30pm
Sep 1 to Jun 30: 9am-5pm; Sun: 10am-5pm
Sep 1 to Jun 30: 9am-5pm; Sun: 10am-5pm
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), May Day / Labor Day (May 1), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25), Corpus Christi - Christian, Easter - Christian
Entrance fee in EUR: Adult €5.00, Senior €4.50, Students €3.50, Child 14 & under €1.50
Guides: Guided tour included with admission.
Tirolese Provincial Museum
Worth a visit is the Tirolese Provincial Museum (Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum) in Innsbruck's Museumstrasse, off the Burggraben. It has rich collections on the history and art of Tirol (numerous works from the Gothic period) and a gallery of Dutch and Flemish masters. The originals of the sculptures on the Goldenes Dachl are also displayed here.The museum also has collections from pre- and early historic times.
Tirolese Regional Museum
Further east of Innsbruck's Tirolese Provincial Museum, on the banks of the Sill, stands the old Arsenal (Alte Zeughaus), now occupied by the Tirolese Regional Museum, a museum of cultural and natural history covering a very wide field, including mineralogy, mining, coining, cartography, hunting, technology, etc. There is also a collection of clocks and musical instruments, as well as an exhibition on the story of the Tirolese struggle for liberation in 1809.
Tyrolean Imperial Militia Museum
Tyrolean Railway Museum
St John's Church
In the middle of Innsbruck's Innrain, here much widened, stands the striking St John's Church (Johanniskirche), a lively High Baroque building with a twin-towered gabled front; it contains ceiling paintings of 1794.
To the south of Innsbruck's St John's church, near the University Bridge, can be found the University Library (Universitätsbibliothek) and the New University ("Leopold-Franzens-Universität", 1914-23), with various clinics and institutes.
Address: Christoph Probst Platz 1, A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria
University Botanical Gardens Alpinum
Wilten Parish Church
In Innsbruck's southern district of Wilten stands one of the finest Roccoco churches in northern Tirol, the twin-towered parish church (1751-55). The interior is decorated with ceiling frescos by Matthäus Günther and stucco-work by Franz Xaver Feichtmayr; on the high altar is a 14th C. sandstone figure of "Mary under the Four Pillars".
Opposite Innsbruck's Wilten Parish Church is sited the large complex of buildings (remodeled in Baroque style 1670-95) of Stift Wilten, a Premonstratensian abbey founded in 1138. The church (1651-65) has in the porch a large Gothic figure of the giant Haymon, to whom legend attributes a share in the foundation of the monastery. In the pediment above the high altar is the "Throne of Solomon".
South of Innsbruck rises the hill (under which the Brenner railroad and motorway pass in tunnels) known as Bergisel (750m/2,460ft; a 15-minute walk from Wilten). On the hill there are various sports facilities: the Olympia ski-jump (known as the "Bergiselschanze", constructed in 1964 for jumps of up to 104m/340ft), from the top of which there is a splendid view, the Olympia Ice Stadium with sprinting lane and the Olympia artificial ice rink. The hill owes its fame to the heroic battles of 1809, when the Tirolese peasants, led by Andreas Hofer, three times freed their capital from the French and Bavarian occupying forces. On the north side of the hill, below the ski jump, stands a memorial to all the Tirolese who fought for their country's freedom. The central feature of this is the Andreas Hofer Monument (1893); adjoining that is a memorial chapel (1909) and to its rear the Tomb of the Tirolese Kaiserjäger (Imperial Riflemen).
The Tiroler-Kaiserjäger-Museum with many relics and mementos of the struggle for liberation and the history of the Kaiserjäger up to the World War I; from the Hall of Honor, which contains 1954 volumes with the names of all the Tirolese who fell between 1796-1945, there is a splendid view of Innsbruck and the mountains to the north.
Hungerburg and Hafelekar
To the north of Innsbruck, on a terrace (900m/2,950ft; extensive views), is the site of the outlying villa suburb of Hungerburg, which can be reached either by the Hungerburgbahn, a funicular which runs up from the Mühlauer Brücke (at a circular building with the Bergisel Panorama, depicting the battle of 1809), or on the Höttinger Höhenstrasse. From Hungerburg the Nordkettenbahn, a cableway 3.5km/2mi long, ascends via the intermediate station of Seegrube (1,905m/6,250ft) to Hafelekar (2,334m/7,658ft), from which there are superb views.
Southeast of Innsbruck, beyond the Inn valley motorway, is the location of Schloss Ambras or Amras, a residence of Archduke Ferdinand from 1563-95. In the Unterschloss (Lower Castle) are two rooms containing arms and armor; on the first floor of the Kornschüttgebäude is a valuable art collection (sculpture, applied art); In the Hochschloss (Upper Castle) can be seen the bathroom of Philippine Welser, Ferdinand's wife; paintings and sculpture are on display on the first and second floors. The splendid Spanish Hall, between the Lower and Upper Castles, is one of the earliest examples of German Renaissance interiors (1507-71); it has a beautiful coffered ceiling and frescos of Tirolese nobles on the walls.The palace is also often used for special exhibitions.
To the west of Innsbruck, at Kematen, is the mouth of the beautiful Sellrain Valley, which attracts many visitors both in summer and for winter sports. From the chief place in the valley, Sellrain (909m/2,982ft), there are a number of attractive walks and climbs - for example, to the west by way of the little Late Gothic mountain church of St Quirin (1,243m/4,078ft) to the Rosskogel (2,649m/8,691ft; five hours, not difficult), or south to the Potsdamer Hütte (2,020m/6,628ft; good skiing), above which, to the west, towers the peak of Sömen (2,797m/9,177ft).
Lüsenstal (Alm Kühtai)
From Gries (1,238m/4,062ft) a road leads southwards into the Lüsenstal. The Sellraintal Road continues westwards from Gries via the Kühtaisattel (2,016m/6,641ft) to Alm Kühtai (1,967m/6,454ft), a health and winter sports resort with cableways and ski lifts. It is the starting point for good climbs and walks, and there are many small mountain lakes in the vicinity.
Austria offers immense opportunities for climbing ranges of varying difficulties. Climbers need to be prepared with proper footwear, and getting used to the various weather conditions they may experience.
Mountain Hiking Program
The Alpinschule Innsbruck offers a special summer program for visitors to the town. Anyone staying at least one night in a local hotel is eligible to take part in the Mountain Hiking Program. The program allows participants to hike on over 40 different trails, along with an experienced guide, free of charge. The program also has equipment rental and gives various medals depending on the number of hikes completed. The program is suitable for children over the age of eight, and all adults.A different hike is organized every day, although the "Iantern hike" to Gastof Heilgwasser is offered every Tuesday, after which a rustic Alpine Hut party is held.
Map of Innsbruck Attractions