A January 2000 trip
to Innsbruck by Wildcat Dianne
Quote: Innsbruck, Austria, the capital of Austria's Tirol was my home base during my week-long trip to Austria in January 1987. Its claim to fame is its skiing, being the sight of the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics, and some of the most beautiful Baroque and Gothic architecture in Europe.
Innsbruck was my homebase during my visit to Austria, and it took two walking tours of the Old City to completely learn about its history and soak in the culture.
My trips started from the Hotel Ibis on Innsbruck''s outskirts. I took a bus or taxi with other people from my tour group into town and started from the Sud Tiroler Platz. From there, you can walk easily onto Innsbruck''s main drag, the Maria Theresiastrasse and see the Helbinghaus, the Annasule (St. Anna''s Column), and the Maria Theresia/Leopold Triumphal Arch. The 15th Century Goldennes Dachl (House with the Golden Roof) and the Hofkirche (Royal Church) are also not to be missed.
Innsbruck is a mix of cultures and nationalities since the Hapsburg days. There are Slovak, Czech, Hungarian, Austrian, Bosnian, and other influences in its architecture, history, and food. A bowl of Hungarian Goulash is a filling lunch during a heavy day of sightseeing in Old Innsbruck.
Austria is one of the most expensive countries in Europe. Cheap hotels are hard to come by. So, it is best to stay in a hotel on the city''s outskirts rather than in the Old Town. I stayed in the Hotel Ibis, part of a popular chain of hotels in Europe. It was a short bus or taxi ride to Old Innsbruck. Bring enough film for your camera or a digital camera because film can run you about per roll or more.
For great information about Innsbruck and the Tirol, read Rick Steves''s "Europe Through the Backdoor 2003: Germany, Austria, and Switzerland." Yahoo! is another great source of information on Austria, too.
Once in Innsbruck, you can bus or taxi into the Old Town, but Taxis are expensive (they have to pay somehow for their Mercedes Benz taxis). So, if you go into Innsbruck by cab, go with a group and split the fare. The best way to see the sights around the Maria Theresiastrasse is by walking or horse-drawn carriage. The carriages are all over town and are great for the romantics at heart.
Hotel Ibis is or was located on the outskirts of Innsbruck and is a short cab or bus ride to historical Innsbruck. It is located across the street from the former Olympic Village, which is now low-income housing.
Hotel Ibis is a large hotel, about six floors of rooms with both doubles and singles. I was on a tour and had a roommate from California. My room was small and cozy, with two twin beds and a bathroom. It wasn't fancy, but why bother staying in a fancy hotel when you are going to be out skiing or sightseeing all day?
I was very lucky to get a room with a balcony and great view of the former Olympic Village and the Austrian Alps. When I first arrived in my hotel room, I ran out to the balcony and took pictures of the village and the mountains. It was breathtaking and helped shoo away the homesickness. I then thought of Dorothy Hamill skating to gold and Franz Klammer speeding downhill on skis to his gold medal and Olympic history.
The staff at Hotel Ibis was very kind, courteous, and professional. As I waited for my bus to take me to the airport to go home, the concierge and I had a nice talk over tea and coffee, which helped pass the time. The Austrians are a kind bunch of people. There is a dining room in the hotel where dinner is available nightly. They serve native Austrian dishes, which were very good and filling. January 6 is the Epiphany in Austria, ending the Christmas holidays, and we were entertained with songs by Austrian children in costumes. It made the stay in Innsbruck more enjoyable.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 25, 2003
Outskirts of Innsbruck
Attraction | "Skiing in Austria"
Innsbruck is the most famous ski resort in Austria. It was the host of two Winter Olympics, in 1964 and 1976. It is also famous for one of the most dangerous ski runs in downhill-skiing history, the Hammenkammen, in nearby Kitzbuhl. Remember Franz Klammer and Bill Johnson's famous winning runs during the World Cup?
Seefeld and Igls are two other popular ski areas that can be tried out. Lessons and ski rentals are available, so you don't have to haul your awkward and heavy skis on the airplane. Today, they probably consider ski poles a weapon, anyway.
The ski runs are easy to get to by car or bus, and cable cars and lifts take skiers to the top of the runs.
Kühtai Ski area
Attraction | "The Medieval Maria Theresiastrasse"
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.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 31, 2003
Medieval Maria Theresiastrasse
The Goldenes Dachl was built as a gift to the people of Innsbruck by Emperor Maximillian I in 1494, who insisted on having all of the 2,600 copper tiles covered in gold in his appreciation. The Goldenes Dachl, with its Gothic oriel window and famous roof, was designed by architect Niklas Turing, who added the first balustrade on the first level for Maximillian I to watch medieval tournaments and dancing whenever he was in town. The Dachl's exterior also includes the Coat of Arms of Austria and Hungary, along with the Austrian Eagle that represented the Habsburg Empire from Burgundy to Milan and other parts of Europe. One wall of the Goldenes Dachl is covered with a fresco of the Nativity that Maximillian I wanted to show Innsbruck's Catholic loyalty to Rome.
The Goldenes Dachl turned out to be an expensive extravagance and angered many residents of Austria because Maximillian I took out a loan to pay for all of the work done on the building. Today you can only see the Goldenes Dachl from the outside, and it is considered one of Innsbruck's tourist traps. I recommend taking 10 to 20 minutes to admire the architecture and beauty of the Goldenes Dachl and taking pictures.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 9, 2005
Innsbruck, Austria 6020
Attraction | "Triumphforte of Leopold and Maria Theresia"
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.