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Innsbruck

Memorable Innsbruck

Innsbruck is most well-known as a winter resort and as the site of the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics. As we visited in the summertime, we couldn’t experience any of its winter wonderland. However, to us it still exudes old-world attraction together with a vibrant mix of culture and charming architectural style.

In front of the Goldenes Dachl

Places like Salzburg and Rothenburg are known for their lovely cast-iron signs that adorn shopfronts. I was pleasantly surprised to see such a splendid array of them in Innsbruck. I got extremely shutter happy again here.

The square in front of the Goldenes Dachl is a pedestrian-only zone filled with cafes and restaurants. While here I had my sole celebrity sighting on this trip. As I walked towards the Old Town Tower, I almost ran into a tower.. the Fawlty Tower himself: it was John Cleese! At least I thought it was my favorite Python (well, actually I like Palin more). He had the right height, the right look, the moustache, and clear glasses. He was with a much shorter woman I did not recognize. Of all the places to run into him. To this day I’m still kicking myself for my reaction, which was none, nada, nichts. I just stood there dumbly. “Cleese” held out his hand, politely motioning me to move past him. So I numbly did. He strode away as I look back. Hmm, his walk did not look funny at all.

Colorful houses along the river Inn

The river Inn is just steps away from the old town. Here you’ll find the row of colorful facades.

The Hofkirche

This splendid Baroque church contains the tomb of Duke Ferdinand II. Its most unique feature is the array of 28 bronze statues of various noble gentlemen and ladies. You can rub some of them for good luck, including a very private spot on one statue :)

The Stadtturm

The City Tower is the tallest structure in the Old Town and gives you a wonderful panorama of the city. Innsbruck doesn’t have as many brilliant rooftops as Prague or Rothenburg, but the vistas of snow-covered mountains are breathtaking.

View from the Stadt Turm toward the baroque towers of the Dom zu St. Jakob.

The Triumphpforte

The Triumphpforte rises at the south end of Maria-Theresienstrasse, the main tourist drag in Innsbruck. Like many structures in Austria, it was modeled on those in Rome. Built by Maria Theresa’s order in 1765, it commemorated two events: the marriage of her son, later Kaiser Leopold II, to Maria Ludovica of Spain, and the death of her husband Francis I, who died during the celebrations. One side of the arch (the south side) represents happiness, while the other represents sadness.

Notice the bicyclists. I always thought Dutch people are avid bicyclists. Austrians are even more so! Along every highway in Austria there are bicycle paths, even in the tiny towns in the Alps.

The happy side of the Triumphpforte

We later drove through the arch even though it was out of the way, just for kicks :)

Cast-iron signs

I’m a sucker for these decorative cast-iron store signs. There are numerous signs adorning shop fronts along Friedrichstrasse, the street in front of the Goldenes Dachl, continuing on to Maria-Theresienstrasse.

McDonald’s has a presence here. I’m normally fond of seeing American companies abroad, though in the case of McDee’s my feelings are a little ambivalent. At least they tried to fit in.

Hofburg, the Imperial Residence in Innsbruck

Empress Maria Theresa turned the existing 15th-century mansion into a Baroque showcase. Halls after halls with exceedingly rich furnishing and decorations are testaments to the opulence of the Habsburgs. I prefer this museum to the Hofburg in Vienna. Its exhibits are more interesting, it’s practically deserted, and, most importantly, you can take photos.

Courtyard of the Hofburg
The Grand Ballroom, Hofburg

Friedrichstrasse

This pedestrian-only street right in front of the Goldenes Dachl is lined with stores, some interesting, some not. I’m not a shopper (I was with people who are :) but I just loved the colorful buildings and of course the cast-iron signs.

Friedrichstrasse

The Goldenes Dachl

Undoubtedly Innsbruck’s most well-known attraction. The two-story Golden Roof isn’t actually gold, but made of 2738 gold-plated copper tiles. It was built in from 1497-1500 by Niklas Tuering for Emperor Maximilian I. Reliefs on the balcony depicts Maximilian and his two wives, coats of arms, and Moorish scenes, among other things.

Unfortunately the Annasaeule was under construction so I didn’t want any photo of it :(

Last visit: 2003 Pros: Lots of museum; great pedestrian zone; attractive architecture; to-die-for cast-iron signs Cons: Altstadt may be hard to find from the motorway; Few parking spots In a nutshell: Irresistible Austrian charm