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Magic of Innsbruck: guide

Ever dreamt of a fairytale escape in the heart of Europe? Love yodel singing, marmots and edelweiss? Innsbruck might be a perfect choice for…

By Anna Purpurpurpur

Tyrol is a magical sound to every ear who loves music and Alps’ green valleys.

It comes as no surprise that its capital since 1429 – Innsbruck, or literally ‘Inn bridge’-  located in the valley of Inn river and framed by splendid mountains is a perfect relaxing hideaway for anyone.

Besides that, many major events in European history are related to this city because of Emperor Maximilian I residing here in the 15th century.

Ready to dive into the sea of architectural and historical marvels? Scroll down to explore what you can see there in one day!


When you arrive to Innsbruck, go straight to Maria-Theresien-Straße without delay. It’s a magnificent street with Triumphal Arch on one side (see below) and St. Anne’s Column (Annasäule) right in the heart of the city.

The marble column itself was built at the beginning of 18th century to commemorate the events of the War of the Spanish Succession. Just stroll around and enjoy the atmosphere of old Europe and one of the richest cities of Holy Roman Empire!

It you love shopping, shops nearby might be of an interest to you.


Triumphal Arch

Another famous sightseeing spot is the Triumphal Arch (Triumphpforte). Erected from stone in 1765, it was thought to be a symbol of the celebration of the marriage of Archduke Leopold, one of the sixteen children of Holy Roman Emperor Francis Stephen and Empress Maria Theresa, to the Maria Luisa of Spain. Unfortunately, Francis Stephen of Lorraine died right in the middle of the long celebrations.

Thus, the arch happens to commemorate both events: the north side of the Triumphal Arch presents the tragic mourning pattern, and the south side presents the wedding celebrations.

Interesting: Archduke Leopold, later known as Leopold II, was a brother of Marie Antoinette, notoriously known Queen of France.


Golden Roof

If you ask me what’s the most recognizable landmark of Innsbruck I would definitely say – Goldenes Dachll, the Golden Roof. It’s located in the heart of the old Middle Ages city and reminds us of the good old times of Emperor Maximilian I – you can dive into its history by visiting the Golden Roof Museum located inside the building. The building itself is older than the balcony and is called Neuhof, meaning New Court.

This alcove balcony magically glitters with its 2,657 tiles. They still remain precious: several years ago a number of tills were stolen but thankfully all of them were found later on!

Tip: you can see them better from the City Tower nearby!

City Tower

If you are a fan of gorgeous architecture, please do climb the 133 steps of City Tower Stadtturm! It was constructed in 1450 and its altitude of 51 m was quite impressive at that time.


 From the top you’ll have a splendid view of the mountains, riverside and, of course. the Medieval streets of Innsbruck.  


Helbling House might not be the most famous Innsbruck landmark but I was really impressed by this 15th century building heavily enriched with the Rococo elements several centuries later. It was named after one of the owners of the house Sebastian Helbling.

Imperial Palace

Some familiar names that were already mentioned in this blogpost have the strong links with Hofburg, the Imperial Palace. It was completed during the rule of Emperor Maximilian and welcomed a lot of famous guests once again during the Leopold and Maria Luisa’s wedding in 1765 and mourning over Francis Stephen. You’ll have a chance to explore the whole history of the Palace up to the modern day during your visit.

Unfortunately, the photography is not allowed inside Hofburg, but make sure you don’t miss the all-pink room of Sisi, Empress Elisabeth and pass some time exploring Maria Theresa’s family tree in the Giant Hall.


Court Church

The Gothic Court Church serves as a commemoration of Emperor Maximilian I who loved Innsbruck so much. It was completed in 1553 after an order by Emperor Ferdinand I, his grandson.

You definitely won’t miss a massive black Maximilian’s cenotaph – it occupies a lot of space right in the middle of the Church. It’s surrounded by the 28 life-sized cast bronze statues called Black Men (Schwarze Mander). These dark statues present his noble relatives, the aristocrats from other families and local heros.

Hofkirche contains many other historical treasures such as the Andreas Hofer (Tyrol’s national hero)’s tomb. I can confirm from my own experience that the Renaissance Ebert organ is still in use.

I must sincerely admit that the Silver Chapel, or Silberne Kapell, is one of the most beautiful chambers I’ve ever seen in my life.

It was named after the Silver Altar with a statue of Virgin Mary.

Tyrolean Folk Art museum

If you buy a ticket to the Hofkirche, you inevitably bump into the Tyrolean Folk Art museum (Tiroler Volkunstmuseum) – actually they have a combined ticket till 🙂

It’s quite a nice and compact historical museum located on several floors. Its collection includes some unique Tyrolean arts and crafts: cultural and religious items, objects of everyday life, paintings, furniture, traditional clothes and even entire wooded rooms!

Tip: please come to the very top floor of the museum! If you’re good in hide-and-seek game, you’ll be able to distinguish a secret door that leads to the upper part of Hofkirche. Nothing compares to the astonished faces of other tourists when you suddenly appear over there out of blue!  

Interesting: Yodel, or Jodeln, is a special type of vocal technique that is traditional – among others – to the Alpine singers. You can easily distinguish its elements in for instance Disney’s The Silly Song from ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.


Innsbruck Cathedral

Innsbruck cathedral is a real must-see in the Tyrolean capital. Although Dom zu St. Jakob was all surrounded by scaffolding during my visit, the interiors are really splendid! This proper Baroque gem was built in the 18th century.

The altar is decorated with the famous masterpiece Maria Hilf by the Renaissance genius Lucas Cranach the Elder and the frescoes were produced by Cosmas Damian Asam. Don’t miss the tomb of Maximilian the Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights, or Maximilian III of Austria as well.

Ambras Castle

This fairytale castle is a real Tyrolean marvel standing on the top of a hill overlooking the city. In the 16th century it was a residence of Ferdinand II, Archduke of Austria, where he kept his astonishing art collection.

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It was partly moved to Vienna but the portrait gallery of Habsburg family members of Schloss Ambras is still splendid! Stay alert for Velázquez, Anthony van Dyck and Titian masterpieces and The Strasser Collection of Glass at the Hochschloss (Upper Castle)! 

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Just look how wonderful is this Spanish Hall with its massive wooden doors, ceiling and multiple Tyrolean rulers’ portraits on its sides!

Ambras Lower Castle (on the first photo beloow) also contains an impressive armoury collection and a Collection of curiosities.

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Nordkette Cable Car

Views over Innsbruck are incredible! How do I know? Well, I’ve been to the top of 2,300m-high Hafelekar observing the city and perfect Tyrolean landscape.

You can follow my steps and take a cable car ride up to the top of Nordkette – the North chain – or to halt on one of the stops with an excellent panorama in from of you. Gondola coming from the city center is quite a convenient and fast way but you could also challenge your physical strength.

Apart from the magnificent rocks, the games of the shadows from the clouds and vivid lawns you can also spot some unique flora and fauna. For more please go to the Alpine zoo.

Alpine Zoo

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Want to know local animals a little better? Plan a visit to the Alpenzoo, which dates back to 1962.

It’s quite unique because it is home to many Alpine species of mammals and birds – and don’t miss marmots, they are hilarious!

Interesting: the location of Innsbruck city highly favours sport activities, especially the winter ones such as skiing. Did you know that Innsbruck hosted two Winter Olympic Games (in 1964 and 1976), two Paralympics (1984 and 1988) and one Youth Olympic Games (2012)?

Swarovski Crystal Worlds

Did you know Innsbruck is where Swarovski jewels comes from? Well, pop into the Swarovski Crystal Worlds Store in Innsbruck to explore more (and to buy presents to your friends and family!).

Tip: If you have time and if you love everything that glitters, plan a trip to Swarovski Kristallwelten museum in Wattens, a town nearby.


I hope you enjoyed today’s blog! 



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