A January 2000 trip
to Innsbruck by Wildcat Dianne
Quote: Twenty-two years after my trip to Austria, I have discovered more photos and stories about my adventures in Innsbruck and other places near Innsbruck and Salzburg to share with Igougo readers.
Attraction | "The Helblinghaus and other Innsbruck Attractions"
The first place I laid my eyes on when I went to Downtown Innsbruck was the Sudtiroler Platz (South Tirol Square), a small square that is home to the Bahnhof or main train station of Innsbruck and a couple of expensive and old hotels. The sight that had me piqued during my short visit into the Sudtiroler Platz was the Liberation Monument, a small arch, that comemmorates the liberation of the Tirol from the French and Bavarian armies who occupied Austria and the Tirol in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries. With its simple architecture and Austrian Hapsburg Eagle on top, it's worth a short pause on your trip to Innsbruck to admire this monument to Austrian history.
As I walked along the Maria Theresiastrasse, Innsbruck's main drag, I was fascinated by the Gothic, German Gothic, and Baroque Architecture that gives the city its quaint charm and beauty. A McDonald's was in one of the Baroque buildings, and it was nice to have a chocolate shake inside rather than the modern monstrosities that dot our American landscape. Usually when I am on vacation, I avoid McDonald's or other chain restaurants in favor of local cuisine, but I sometimes can't resist going into a McDonald's either in Austria or Slovakia and looking at the menu board and seeing how they say french fries in their language.
Traipsing along the Maria Theresiastrasse, I came upon this beautiful and unique building which is apartment houses. Later on I learned that this house with its wedding cake colors, masks, shells, and other decor on it's exterior was the Helblinghaus. The Helblinghaus was originally built around the 15th Century in Gothic Architecture, but its current appearance came about in 1730, five years after Innsbruck resident Johann Fischer bought the house and turned it from Gothic architecture to Late-Baroque architecture with its white and pastel color scheme. The House got its name, however, in the mid-19th century from another owner, Sebastian Helblilng, who turned the home into a cafe during the mid-19th Century.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 24, 2009
Attraction | "The Stadtturm (City Tower)"
One of these gems was the Stadtturm (City Tower), a beautiful tower located on the Herzog-Friedrichstrasse in Innsbruck's Old Town (Altstadt). The Stadtturm was built over an eight-year period from 1442-1450 and was home to the city watchman who would climb up the tower in order to watch over Innsbruck and alert its residents to fires, invasions, and other insurgencies. The tower is 187-feet tall and the once you are up in the tower, you can see Innsbruck and the Nordkette Mountains and other towns that surround the Tirol for over a mile.Unfortunately, I didn't make it up the Stadturm during my visit in January 1987, but I was able to photograph its beautiful exterior and soak up the history from below. However, I hope to return there in the future to climb up the tower to see Innsbruck and all of its glory. When the Stadtturm is open for tourists, it's open from 10-5 during the months of October to May and longer during the busy Summer tourist season.
Innsbruck, Austria 6020
+43 512 5615003
Attraction | "The Hofkirche and Hofburg"
The Hofburg and Hofkirche are located on Universitatstrasse 2 in downtown Innsbruck and are well worth a visit when you visit Innsbruck. The Hofburg was closed during my 1987 visit being a Monday, but the Hofkirche was open to tourists. The Hofburg dates from 1739 when it was commissioned by the Hapsburg family and for the next forty years, it became the home of Emperor Leopold and Empress Maria Theresia and after Maria Theresia's death in 1780, some of their 16 children.
The Hofkirche dates from a much earlier time than the Hofburg. Built from 1553-1563 in late German Renaissance architecture under the rule of Ferdinand I as a memorial to Emperor Maximillian I, the Hofkirche became a house of worship for the Hapsburg family for many centuries afterwards and as the final resting place of Andreas Hofer (1767-1810), the hero of the war against Napoleon Bonaparte and the French army who invaded Austria in the early 19th Century. Hofer led a revolt against the French from 1809-1810 until he was betrayed by a fellow officer and captured by the French and executed by firing squad. His tomb within the church for all to see and revere.
Walking through the Hofkirche, I was amazed by all of the statues of Hapsburg royalty and their spouses including Juana of Spain and Emperor Frederick III. There are 28 total statues throughout the Hofkirche that were commissioned throughout the 16th Century and were sculpted by Albrecht Durer and other famous artists of the time. Unfortunately, the camera I had at the time didn't take good indoor shots, and I was only able to save a couple of shots of Maximillian's cenotaph and a painting between two sculptures.
Protected by gates from curious tourists, Maximillian's tomb is laid out in black marble in the central nave. Although Maximillian and other Hapsburgs are buried in the family tomb at the palace in Wiener Neustadt, another tomb or cenotaph was built for Maximillian. Construction on the tomb began in the late 15th century and took over 80 years to complete the tomb being finished in 1572 and its final touches in 1584.
The Hofkirche is a fascinating piece of German Renaissance architecture and I was so sad when many of my pictures were out of focus or didn't come out at all. Someday I will return to Innsbruck to visit the Hofburg and Hofkirche and will have a better camera to photograph the beautiful interiors. A trip to the heart of Hapsburg Royalty in Tirol is worth an hour or two of your time when you are visiting Innsbruck!
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 16, 2009
Hofburg and Hofkirche
Attraction | "Snowy Sight of Leopoldskron"
On the bus from Innsbruck to Salzburg, it was snowing heavily which would have a Rhode Islander like me cancelling any trips in the USA if I had to drive there on my own, but the bus ride went smoothly, and we enjoyed a scenic tour of the Tirol of Austria that bypassed into Bavaria and scenes of the Bavarian Alps. Along the way, we passed a castle that French Premier Daladier was held prisoner in by the Nazis during World War II and a villa that Reichsfuhrer Hermann Goering stayed in whenever he was in the Tirol during the reign of the Third Reich.
As we got closer to Salzburg, our guide put on some music to put us in the mood for the trip to this historic and beautiful city. Of course, it was the soundtrack to The Sound of Music, and the Led Zeppelin loving me couldn't resist a little eye roll, but after all that, many of us on the bus were tapping our toes or singing to to Doe Ray Me.
As we got closer to Salzburg, we started to see the hilltop Fortress Hohensalzburg through the snowflakes, and then our bus driver made a quick pitstop for us to enjoy Schloss Leopoldskron, a beautiful Rococo palace on the outskirts of Salzburg that has been home to Hapsburg Royalty and other royal intrigue.
Schloss Leopoldskron was built in 1736 on the shores of a pond during the reign of Count Leopold Anton Eleutherius von Firmian after he threw out 20,000 Protestants out of the Salzburg area. Count von Firmian could only enjoy Schloss Leopoldskron for eight years before dying in 1744. After Leopold's death, his nephew Laktanz took over the Schloss and used it to house his huge art collection of paintings and sculptures by Titian, Rubens, Rembrandt, and other famous artists. After the von Firiman family heirs died off in 1837, Schloss Leopoldskron went under several ownerships through the next two centuries and was even owned by two waiters who turned the schloss into a hotel that remained in business until 1918 when it was bought by movie director Max Reinhardt.
Reinhardt dumped big bucks into Schloss Leopoldskron and renovated it extensively and turned the place into a place to perform his theater productions and for actors, directors, and producers to gather from around the world. When Nazi Germany annexed Austria in 1938, Reinhardt, a Jew, fled to the USA, and the Nazis confiscated Schloss Leopoldskron for their own use. Hermann Goering put a woman named Stephanie von Hohenlohe in charge of turning the schloss into a guest house for Reich artists. Max Reinhardt never saw his beloved Leopoldskron again dying in New York in 1943, but after the war, the schloss was returned to the Reinhardt family.
Since 1947, Schloss Leopoldskron has been home to the Salzburg Global Seminar and in the 1960's, some of the scenes from The Sound of Music were filmed at the schloss including the love scenes of Liesl and Rolf and Maria and Captain von Trapp. Locals argue that the back of Schloss Leopoldskron was used in the movie, but those scenes were filmed at another nearby schloss. The Gazebo at Schloss Leopoldskron that is seen in the movie became such a popular tourist site after the release of The Sound of Music that it had to be moved to Hellbrun Palace to accommodate all of the visitors safely.
We only spent a few minutes looking at the exterior of Schloss Leopoldskron before heading into Salzburg. Unfortunately, the heavy snows made it impossible to see Fortress Hohensalzburg at all being so foggy, but seeing a famous castle was an enjoyable but short experience for me that I haven't forgotten.
Salzburg, Austria 5020
+43 662 839830
Attraction | "The Annasaule (St. Anna's Pillar)"
The Annasaule has an interesting story in why it was built in the middle of the Maria Theresiastrasse. At the end of the 17th Century and very early 18th Century, Austria was at war with Spain and Bavaria. Bavaria occupied the Tirol part of Austria, and there was a lot of resistance against this occupation. On 26 July 1703 (St. Anna's Day), the Austrians finally pushed the Bavarians out of the Tirol and as part of the celebration of this momentous historical moment, the Tiroleans built the Annasaule as thanks to St. Anna and the troops who sacrificed all to liberate the Tirol from its enemies. Construction took about three years before it was dedicated to the people of Innsbruck in 1706 and remains as an icon to St. Anna and Innbruck today.
The Annasaule stands about three stories high near the Helbinghaus on the Maria Theresiastrasse as you walk towards the Goldenes Dachl (House with the Golden Roof). There are ropes around the statue, but people can go to the statue to get a closer look at it and take pictures. There are two photos of me posing by the Annasaule in this journal to prove so. The Annasaule is worth a good 15-20 minutes of your time as you are strolling through downtown Innsbruck.