Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Top 10 Things to See and Do In Innsbruck, Austria

What does Austria have that we don't have?  Silly question, the Alps, of course.  I couldn't wait to see the Alps and share my experience.  Unfortunately, this was the only day of my 15 day trip that was less than perfect weather.  It was a cloudy, misty day with a light rain heading into Innsbruck. So instead of looking high above the city, I was able to focus and enjoy what laid within the city itself. It is an amazing place.

1. Innsbruck, bridge over the Inn River has long been a significant center and passage along the Brenner Pass through the Alps for centuries.

2. The central tourist attraction next to the Alps in the Aldstadt (old town) would be the Golden Dachl. The Golden Roof was constructed in honor of Maximilian's 2nd marriage to Bianca Maria Sforza of Milan. It was to be a balcony where he could sit and observe the tournaments and entertainment below. He was after all the Holy Roman Emperor. Not wishing to alienate the allies gained by his first marriage, to Mary of Burgundy, he had an image of himself between the two women painted on his balcony. Mary, his first wife, died tragically in a riding accident.

In the enlarged picture, you can see the different family coat of arms and other details on the building.

3. The very next thing that caught my eye was the architectural styles and colors of the other buildings.  The Helblinghaus is named for Sebastian Helbling who owned a cafe on the lower level of a house on the corner of a line of ornately decorated buildings. This house, in particular draws your attention due to the unique rococo design added to the Gothic style building.

The work was commissioned by then owner in 1730, Johann Fischer and completed by Anton Gigl. So maybe, I didn't have all those details, our tour director filled us in, but I was gawking and still marveling at the age of the buildings around me. Most of the houses lined along this street date back to the 15th and 16th century along with Max's (Maximilian I) house directly to the right.

4. Meandering through the streets of Innsbruck surely was a treat seeing all these old buildings, filled with personality.  It had a very peaceful and welcoming air about it.  Not only did I feel like I was in a friendly foreign country, I could almost feel myself transported back in time.  If only the walls could talk and I had a keener understanding of the native tongue.  German is the main language spoken in Austria.

5. I didn't go to Europe to shop, I was however drawn into this place of business in Innsbruck due to the lure of its uniqueness. I am not a talented seamstress, but I appreciate fabric and special hand made designs, so I went in. I spotted a table runner and two matching pillow cases, that I was pretty sure I wouldn't be able to find in the United States, plus they were Austrian, which made them special.

6. The shopkeeper was busy with another customer.  This gave me an opportunity to browse a little and to prepare to dazzle this man with the German dialog we had just been taught on the bus by our tour director. The store proprietor then turned to me and said "yodel la hee hoo".  He really didn't say that but for all I knew, he did.  I was caught like a deer in headlights.  I had no idea what he had just said. He looked me directly in the eye and said with compassion, "Can I help you find something?" I made the purchase and was able to muster up, "Danke schon" at the conclusion of the sale and I bid him a "Guten Morgen" as I was leaving, only to find out later that meant "good morning" it was late afternoon.

7. Triumphal Arch in Innsbruck, Austria was ordered to be built in 1765 by Empress Maria Theresa with a twofold purpose: To honor the marriage of her son, the Duke of Tuscany, later Emperor Leopold II, to Maria Ludovica from Spain, and to mourn the death of her husband, Francis I Stephen of Lothringen, who died during the celebrations. The marble friezes were created by Balthasar Moll in 1744. One side of the Arch symbolizes the joyful aspect of the event, the other side the sadness. Francis I and Maria Theresa had 16 "name dropping" children together Queen Marie Antoinette of France, Queen Maria Carolina of Naples, Duchess Maria Amalia of Parma and two Holy Roman Emperors, Joseph II and Leopold II just to name a few. Maria Theresa was passionately in love with her husband as expressed with this monumental tribute to him. 

8. St. Anna's Column (Annasaule) this column celebrates the withdrawal of Bavarian troops in 1703 it has a statue of the Virgin Mary on a crescent moon on top. The monument Annasaule in the middle of the Maria-Theresienstrasse was built to commemorate the liberation from the Bavarians on the 26th July 1703. Bavarian soldiers tried to take the city and were defeated.

9. The Leopoldsbrunnen Fountain monument is dedicated to Archduke Leopold V who was the ruler of Tirol from 1619 to 1632. He is seen on a horse at the top of the fountain which is dedicated to him. It is one of the oldest remaining statues of a man on a horse. Leopold served as general in the Thirty Years' War and the Franco-Spanish War (1635–1659)

10. Hofburg, the 15th century Imperial Palace of Emperor Maximilian I was rebuilt in the baroque style by Maria Theresa but the residence became a sad place, when her husband died there. The palace is a fine example of the baroque style that can be found throughout Innsbruck. You can wander and tour the palace on your own or take a guided tour.

It was nightfall and we simply ran out of time and day light. To cap off the day, we were treated to a authentic Austrian meal of wiener schnitzel and mashed potatoes and apple strudel for dessert.  It was superb.  After dinner, we were invited into a great hall and enjoyed an evening of traditional Austrian music and dance and the beer was flowing  I hope you enjoy it.  I found it entertaining, especially how the men perked up when the women demonstrated their yodeling ability.  I think I just might try this one at home. The yodeling towards the end really gets these men a movin.

Traditional Tirolean Dancing

I did get to see the Austrian Alps on my way out of Innsbruck, absolutely breathtaking. 

I will share more pictures of the Alps when I take you to Switzerland. The skies were clear that day!

Austria is a beautiful country with some noteworthy residents.  I am sure you have heard of a few.
The hills are alive with history and music.

All the above suggestion would be for the spring and summer travel to Innsbruck , if you plan a winter trip, skiing is the word. Innsruck has twice hosted the winter Olympics. The 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games, officially known as the I Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG), will be an international multi-sport event for youths that will take place in Innsbruck from January 13 -22, 2012.


  1. Hi....

    Thanks a lot for sharing the information.......

    By the way check out the total information about the Winter Youth Olympics like Winter Youth Olympic Games 2012 Schedule, Dates, Results and more information from Winter Youth Olympic Games 2012.

  2. The view of Innsbruck, bridge over the Inn River is amazing, last year i was there and i had good fun with my friends.

  3. It is a beautiful city unfortunately I was only there one day. I loved walking through the cobblestone streets and all the history there.