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by Wildcat Dianne
December 9, 2005
In 1765, Maria Theresia and Franz Stefan celebrated the wedding of their son Leopold, who was then the Duke of Tuscany (Later Emperor Leopold) to the Spanish Infanta Maria Ludovica. There were many days of celebration for the wedding, but tragedy struck during the festivities when Emperor Franz died suddenly. Too much wienerschnitzel!? Who knows what killed the Emperor, but Maria Theresia was so grief stricken, she commissioned architect and sculptor Baltazar Moll to build a trimphal arch in Innsbruck to celebrate her son's wedding and her husband's untimely death at the same time.
The finished product was the Triumphforte on where is today the Leopold and Maria Theresia Strassen in Innsbruck, Austria. Moll's Roman style arch has the Leopold's wedding celebration on one side and the death of Franz Stefan on the other side. The Triumphforte marks the beginning of the Maria Theresia Strasse, Innsbruck's main drag.
Emperor Franz Stefan was buried in the palace in Vienna, and Maria Theresia remained griefstricken at the loss of her beloved husband that she visited his grave every day. Even when she became too fat and enfeebled near the end of her life, she would be lowered in a chair by servants to her husband's grave daily. Maria Theresia died in 1780, and Leopold became emperor of the Hapsburg Empire until his death in 1790.When I visited the Triumpforte, I came in from the SudTiroler Strasser and the Leopoldstrasse. From there, I entered the Maria Theresia Strasse. The Trimphforte is well worth about 15-20 of your time and is a remarkable piece of 18th Century architecture.
From journal Olympic Games and Hapsburg Royalty
August 31, 2003
Innsbruck's Maria Theresiastrasse is the center of Old Innsbruck and worth a day or two of sightseeing. It is not only Innbruck's main drag and shopping area. It is also full of beautiful Gothic- and Baroque-era buildings and has a multicultural ambience from its Hapsburg Empire days.
I entered the Maria Theresiastrasse from the Sud Tiroler Platz, the square off of this road. At this end of the Sud Tiroler Platz is the Triumphal Arch of Maria Theresia and her son Leopold II. It was built by the Empress in the 18th century to celebrate his marriage and the life of her husband, Emperor Franz I, who had died shortly before Leopold's wedding and with whom Maria Theresia had 16 children with, including the ill-fated Marie Antoinette, Queen of France.
From the Maria Theresiastrasse, I was able to enjoy some great views of the Nordkette Mountains and the famous Olympic ski jump that overlooks Innsbruck.
The middle of the Maria Theresiastrasse has some of the most beautiful Baroque architecture in Central Europe, including the Helbinghaus with its distinctive orange-and-brown exterior and onion-shaped dome. Near the Helbinghaus is the Annasule (St. Anna's Column) that was erected by Emperor Leopold I in 1706 and marks the center of the Maria Theresiastrasse.
The end of the Maria Theresiastrasse has the Goldenes Dachl of Friedrich the Penniless, which is not to be missed.
There are many shops and restaurants along the Maria Theresiastrasse that are worth the window shopping. Most of the shops are expensive, but with a little bargain hunting and hard work, I was able to get my dad his birthday present (an Innsbruck sweatshirt and Olympic turtleneck) for a decent price along with sweatshirts for me and my sister.
There are restaurants that show the many ethnic backgrounds of the Hapsburg Empire. You can have Hungarian goulash in one place or Czech dumplings in another restaurant. There are little coffee shops where you can take a break and have coffee and those decadent Austrian pastries. I recommend more walking after experiencing those; I know from indulging in them personally.
For the nighthawk, there are many bars and nightclubs for you to prowl, and most are on the side streets off of the Maria Theresiastrasse.