Wander beneath the arcades in the Old Town and discover small shops, cosy street cafés and the City Tower with Gothic origins. The tower’s 133 steps pose a physical challenge, but climb up to the 31-metre high viewing platform and your reward is a breathtaking view. At the turn of the 16th century, Emperor Maximilian I not only created the Golden Roof, Innsbruck's landmark, which houses an attractive small museum which is open to visitors; he also furnished his planned tomb in the Court Church with 28 larger than life bronze figures, bequeathing to Innsbruck with these “Black Men” one of the most important Renaissance works of art north of the Alps. The church also houses the 16th century Ebert organ, one of the oldest in Austria.

In the 17th century a woman by the name of Claudia de Medici made history when she came to Tyrol through marriage. After her husband’s death, it was thanks to her and her son, Archduke Ferdinand Karl, that the first free-standing theatre north of the Alps opened in Innsbruck in 1631. Antonio Cesti, a celebrated musician of his time, wrote major operas. The Festival of Ancient Music and the Ambras Castle Concerts, which attract audiences from far and wide each year in July and August, testify to this tradition. Speaking of Ambras Castle: in the 16th century, Archduke Ferdinand II had it converted into a Renaissance castle for his beloved wife Philippine Welser, and it’s now seen as one of Innsbruck's cultural highlights.

In Innsbruck the traces of the Habsburgs are closely connected with Empress Maria Theresia, and it was she who gave the Imperial Palace, one of the city's most important sights, its current appearance. A magical encounter of culture and nature brings wonderful sounds to the courtyard of the Imperial Palace every July. The Innsbruck Promenade Concerts under the starry summer sky are now regarded as one of Europe's leading festivals of brass music.

Very close to the Imperial Palace, the Tyrolean State Theatre is always worth a visit, having made a name for itself with its extraordinary dance performances under the direction of the choreographer Enrique Gasa Valga. Next to it, the House of Music (planned opening: October 2018) will be creating a new meeting place for art, music and theatre.

Stroll south along the Maria-Theresien-Strasse and admire the beautiful palaces such as the Palais Fugger-Taxis, the seat of the Tyrolean provincial government. At the end of the avenue, by the Baroque Triumphal Arch, your gaze is irresistibly drawn to the Bergisel. This owes its fame, among other things, to the battles fought there against Napoleon's troops and to the elegant, cobra- shaped ski jump designed by Zaha Hadid, which has become a landmark of modern Innsbruck. But the impressive Giant Panoramic Painting that is part of the Museum Tirol Panorama means you can still experience the turmoil of battle on the Bergisel.

The two churches at the foot of the Bergisel are like two sisters: the Wilten Basilica is a really attractive building with its bright cheerful splendour and is regarded as the most beautiful Rococo church in Tyrol. Opposite is the majestic Church of the Premonstratensian Abbey Wilten, a Baroque jewel with a rich interior which enjoys a close connection with the heavenly voices of the Wiltener Sängerknaben, a boys' choir with one of the most interesting histories in Europe and one of the best choirs of its kind in the world. The Audioversum is another place to enjoy music and sound. It’s an interactive, exciting and, literally, wonderful way of exploring the world of listening in every sense with ever changing exhibitions.

You really must visit the Museum of Tyrolean Folk Art which houses a rich and varied exhibition of Tyrolean folk culture. The art collections in the Tyrolean State Museum Ferdinandeum also explore the Tyrol’s roots. The "musikmuseum" is a programme which puts on attractive concerts and publishes a CD series of Tyrol-related music.

Musical events also take place in Stams Abbey – which means leaving the city and driving to the small town of Stams, dominated by the magnificent Cistercian abbey. The abbey, founded in the 13th century and remodelled in Baroque style with a basilica, state rooms and precious collections, is an absolute must for every visitor to Innsbruck with an interest in culture. Opposite Stams Abbey, the Pilgrimage Church of Maria Locherboden towers majestically above the Inn Valley. This church is still very popular but can only be reached on foot. It dates back to the time of miracles and healing in the 18th and 19th centuries and its small neo-Gothic church and the fantastic views make it well worth a visit.

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Photos, 300 dpi


The Hofkirche (Court Church) in Innsbruck.

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