Innsbruck

Innsbruck view by CC user James Cridland on FlickrIntroduction Known world wide as Austria’s winter playground, Innsbruck also has a cultural side that makes it attractive to visitors of all persuasions. Being home to the Imperial Court of the Holy Roman Empire for a period certainly didn’t hurt its infrastructure and architecture either, making it hard to decide what to focus on – the beauty of humanity’s art, or the mountainous masterpieces that surround it all. Ambras Castle by CC user arpaderba on Flickr

Cultural Experiences

Start your tour of the area by visiting Ambras Castle, a 16th century castle that is the popular attraction in Innsbruck.

It is well known for its various collections of art and artifacts from the medieval era, which includes things like jousting armor, Asian antiquities, and portraits of emperors of the Holy Roman Empire, as well as those of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Set aside an entire afternoon to see this Renaissance castle, as it has many curiosities that will leave the rushed traveler wanting more.

The Hofkirche should be next on your Innsbruck itinerary, as this Gothic 16th century church was built as a monument to Emperor Ferdinand I’s grandfather, Emperor Maximilian I.

More than just another shrine to Christianity, the Hofkirche contains a giant black marble cenotaph that memorializes the former monarch, and it is surrounded by 28 bronze statues of various heroes of the Holy Roman Empire, as well as ancestors and relatives of the emperor.

While Maximilian is not buried here as it was originally intended, Andreas Hofer, one of Tyrol’s greatest heroes who fought against the French and German occupation of his homeland in the 19th century, has his tomb here.

Finally, don’t forget your camera when you go to check out the Goldenes Dachl. This structure is considered by locals to be one of this city’s most enduring symbols, as its brilliant copper tiled roof makes this balcony facing onto Old Innsbruck’s main square live up the hype.

Serving as an elevated vantage point from where the emperor observed events and festivals, you can feel the status that it bequeathed its occupants with, as its reliefs and murals only add to this landmark’s bespoke status.

skiing in Innsbruck by CC user Mike Norton on FlickrOther Attractions Those seeking to take in a unique museum during their time in Innsbruck will enjoy taking a stroll through the Tyrolean Folk Art Museum. Many experts have heaped praise on this institution, as some consider it to be one of the finest cultural heritage museums in all of Europe. From across Tyrol, artifacts that include costumes, religious art, and peasant furniture can be found in this museum’s exhibits, which give you an idea of what rural life was like in this mountainous region in previous centuries. One of Innsbruck’s more unique qualities is the ease of access one has when it comes to getting into the mountains surrounding the city. Its system of trams allows citizens and tourists alike the chance to get into the region’s highland areas in a matter of minutes; as a visitor with little prior knowledge though, we heavily recommend taking tram line #6. This will transport you to the mountain town of Igls, a resort area that sits above the city on a benchland. This place will grant numerous opportunities to shoot panoramic photos of Innsbruck below, as well as the many picturesque snow capped mountains that surround it. Playing host to the Winter Olympics not just once, but twice (in 1964 and 1976), Innsbruck is well-suited to those that seek to indulge in world class snowsports. With nine areas to choose from, beginner’s and double black seeking adrenaline junkies will both be well catered for, but for those looking for specific recommendations: Patscherkofel (for those wanting to ski Innsbruck’s World Cup Downhill run), Nordpark (for those looking for one of the steepest pistes in Europe) and Kutai (for those seeking more reliable snow cover during warmer winters) will suffice for those seeking details. The action doesn’t stop when the snow melts though, as the trails that reappear as the area’s winter coat vanishes soon becomes the domain of countless avid bikers and hikers. With meadows filled with alpine wildflowers, the smell of fresh evergreens, and sweeping panoramic views greeting hikers at almost every turn, and challenging pitches testing the mettle of mountain bikers, you’ll find the summer is just as engaging in Innsbruck as winter can be.