Innsbruck Stories and Tips

Innsbruck Ramble

Artist in the park Photo, Innsbruck, Austria

We started our day exploring Innsbruck, around 9:30am. (After tucking away a very large breakfast.) This journal entry is a look at how we spent a morning (break for lunch), then continued on our ramble. All in all, we spent around 6 hours and all on foot.

Start your explorations in the Altstadt, the historic inner city and, for a million dollar view of the Nordkette, mountains walk to Maria Theresien-Strasse. This is a thoroughfare with shops, Boutiques, banks, Internet, cafes. In the middle, you will find a red marble column erected in 1703 to commemorate the departure of the Bavarians (during the war of the Spanish succession) on St, Anna’s day. On top of the column is a statue of the Virgin Mary, her head encircled with stars. At its base are Mary’s mother Saint Anne and various saints. I recognized saint George (or should I say the dragon,) Patron Saint of the Tyrol, (not the dragon George.) It is hard to believe the monument has survived without any visible signs of damage for 300 years. Empress Maria Therese chose the best location for the loveliest gateway, the Triumphal Arch. From it, one can enjoy Austria’s most glorious mountain scenery; this monument is located on the southern end of the street facing the Nordkette. Perhaps Maria Therese envisioned a glorious monument to love. The Arch was meant to reflect happiness on the wedding of her son. And what a perfect backdrop, unfortunately Emperor Franz 1 died suddenly during the wedding festivities. The architect subsequently changed the arch to reflect joy and sorrow. The south side depicts happiness and rejoicing, the north side mourning. The Arch was erected around 1765. Thankfully, he was not able to change the view.

The Golden Roof (Golden Dachl) is a very popular spot for tour groups. Situated in the inner city it really is a sight to behold. The 15th-century roof was a gift to the citizens of Innsbruck by Maximilian the first. The Gold on copper roof shingles contains around 31 pounds of the precious metal. Maximilian had to borrow money to pay for it. {Wonder if he hiked the taxes}. Try to see it early in the day when there are fewer tourists.

Another favorite building is the Helbinghause. One of my hobbies was making wedding cakes usually in the baroque style inspired of course by the wedding cake cathedrals of Europe. The Helbinghouse is a confectioner’s inspiration of medieval lavish decoration. This gothic building is diagonally opposite to the Golden roof. The façade is painted in pastel colors and is enchanting.

We did some aimless wandering, past the golden Adler the oldest inn in Innsbruck {a golden Eagle sits at the entrance} Mozart, Wagner, Sartre, and Maximilian made merry here.

Directly opposite across the bridge there is shady parkland. We followed the path passing several artists and they all seemed to have sketched the same view, that of the soaring domes of the royal palace.

We followed a winding road past medieval dwellings with doorways so small that my head would have been in grave danger, and at 5 feet, I felt tall. The bell from one of the nearby churches chimed on the hour and quarter hour that and a heady fragrance of blossoms made our walk enchanting.

Returning across the bridge we made our way back to Herzog-Friedrichstrasse, {Altstadt} followed the narrow cobbled alleyways to the cathedral. Inside the nave are three domed vaults; the lamp flickering above the chancel gives the area an imperial air. The high altar is stunning mainly for the presence above it of A masterpiece of art of Our Lady of Succor, painted by a German master artist Lucas Cranner. To the left of the altar is a monument to one of the Maximillians. {3rd, I think} another statue kneels in a prayer pose watched over by the ever-present saint George and a rather tired looking dragon.

Adjoining the cathedral is the Hofburg, once the royal residence. This is worth a visit, one can view the apartments, the décor is m,ostly Rococo. It is easy to imagine the splendid life lived by the royals. The best part of the visit is the huge giants hall. Over one hundred ft, long magnificent stucco panels depict scenes of the Hapsburgs and their family. They are a "must see".

The Hapsburgs were very powerful and quite a lot of careful planning was put into play in order to make the best and powerful marriages. Those marraiges guaranteed succession of the line. There is also an interesting ceiling painting. However, just as we entered the hall a large group of Japanese tourists arrived so we made a quick exit intending to return the next morning. {We were sidetracked and did not return}

I must mention the Hofkirche. On our last visit we were of the opinion, it was well worth seeing but we did not get to see the site again. Maximillian designed this himself it was to be his mausoleum but his body was interred in Wiener Neustadt because the Burghers denied him entry. He died in wells, the Burghers were fearful that his soldiers wouldn’t pay their bills. It seems a shame that he didn’t get to be buried there still it is a most remarkable imperial memorial.

There are many magnificent statues. Archduke Ferdinand the 2nd is interred in the rear nave. There is a suit of Armour belonging to him suspended in a kneeling position half way up the wall. A silver Madonna adorns another wall and it is outstanding.

Make sure you have conversations with the locals thus getting to know the true spirit of Austrian hospitality and culture. My husband was invited to play backgammon and indeed did; in the park, we had engaged a young fellow in conversation about soccer after he noted my husband’s soccer cap. We ended up leaving him the cap, plus he gave us a restaurant recommendation. So, on a visit to this lovely city you will find your own "Golden Moments"

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