Science Fiction
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Innsbruck, Austria

By Molly Kalafut

About Austria

The Republic of Austria is a small country (about the size of Maine) situated in central Europe with a population of 8+ million. It is surrounded by Germany, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Hungary, Croatia and Italy. To the west and south are the mountainous Alps. Austria adopted the euro as their money in early 2002.

About Innsbruck

Innsbruck with 110,000+ people is the 5th largest city of Austria and is the capitol of Tyrol. It is in a valley between the the northern Alps and Tuxer mountains. Germany is close to the north, Switzerland to the west and Italy to the south. It was founded at the Inn River in 1180 and grew to become an important trade route over the Alps. The Hapsburgs lived there from 1420 to the 1660s.

Mozart lived in Innsbruck and the city has more than 15 art museums, as well as a symphony orchestra, opera, ballet, gardens, zoo and even a casino. The area is well-known for its winter sports, especially skiing and mountaineering. Several ski areas are easily accessible and are reported to be cheaper than in other areas of Europe. The Stubai Glacier is open year-round.

Historical Figures Of Innsbruck

Emperor Maximilian I & Maria Sforza

In the 1490s, Innbruck was the capitol during the reign of Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I when he lived there with his second wife Duchess Maria Sforza. His father was Emperor Frederick III, his son became King Philip I of Spain and his grandson was Emperor Charles V.

Duke Ferdinand I of Tyrol & Philippine Welser

Archduke Ferdinand and his wife, Philippine Wesler are also important figures in the history of Innsbruck. She was the daughter of a merchant, and as a commoner the royal court would not let the couple live within the city. Their castle, the Schloss Ambras is 2 miles southeast of Innsbruck. Once a 10th century castle, it now reflects the Austro-German Renaissance redecoration by Ferdinand in the 1550's. The Spanischer Saal (Spanish Hall) from the 1570s has a decorated ceiling and frescoes on the walls.

Local Attractions of Innsbruck

The main walking area in Old Town (Alstadt) hosts a Christmas market in winter, and the local architecture is a mixture of primarily Baroque and Gothic. The Herzog-Friedrich-Strasse area is lined with cobblestones and links to ornate houses, narrow streets and plazas.

The Court Church (Hofkirche) is a church, monastery and tomb planned by King Ferdinand I and built for Maximilian I in 1553. Since Maximilian was actually buried near Vienna, the marble monument dedicated to him is called a cenotaph. It is surrounded by 28 bronze status of European rulers. 3 were designed by Albrecht Dürer. Another tomb in the church is for Andreas Hofer, who liberated Innsbruck in 1809 from Bavarian and French occupation.

The Silver Chapel (Silberne Kapelle) adjoins the Court Church. The silver altar has the cenotaph of Archduke Ferdinand and his wife Philippine Welser, sculpted by the 16th-century Flemish master Alexander Colin.

The Cathedral of St. James (Dom zu St Jakob) is famous for the Baroque design. The main altar is decorated by a painting of the Madonna done by Lucas Cranach the Elder. It also contains the 1620 monument honoring Archduke Maximilian III.

A large and lovely arch in the town was built by Empress Maria Theresa to commemorate her son Leopold II's marriage to Maria Ludovica of Spain.

Imperial Palace (Hofburg)

Golden Roof (Goldenes Dachl)

The Imperial Palace  was built by Archduke Friedrich IV in 1397 as a home for Tyrolean kings. It is found on the Herzog-Friedrich-Strasse. The inside is famous for the Giant's Hall (Risensaal), and the outside is famous for the Golden Roof (Goldenes Dachl).

Maximilian I added the "golden roof" and loggia in the late 1400s. He sat in the royal box to see events and jousts below. The roof is 3.7 meters tall and covered with 2,657 fire-gilt copper tiles. Fresco paintings and relief art cover the rest. One relief shows Maximilian I with both his wives.

Maria Theresa added the reception area called the Giant's Hall (Riesensaal) in the 1700s. The stateroom is 31 meters long and decorated in white and gold. The painted ceiling was done by Franz Anton Maulpertsch and it is surrounded by frescoes, marble, gold and porcelain. The other rooms are Rococo and Baroque.


Innsbruck Winter Olympics

Innsbruck hosted the winter Olympics in 1964 and 1976. Most cities do not host the Games so close together, but the 1976 award was last minute. It was originally awarded to Denver, but the people of Colorado voted to prohibit a $5 million bond to finance the it.

The two cauldrons shown above represent the two Innsbruck Winter Games.

The 1964 Winter Olympics hosted 36 nations, almost 1100 athletes and 34 events. Innsbruck suffered a severe lack of snow until the Austrian army brought in 20,000 ice bricks and 40,000 cubic meters of snow to the Olympic areas.

bullet First Games featuring the "luge"
bullet First Games to have more than 1,000 athletes
bullet First Games using computers for timing and scores
bullet First year East & West Germany enter a combined team

The 1976 Winter Olympics hosted 37 nations, a little over 1100 athletes and 37 events. This time the Austrian helped build new facilities and modernize others.

bullet First Games featuring ice dancing
bullet First Games where a place awarded the Games (Denver, Colorado) then turned it down

Austrian Alps

We took a horse-drawn carriage ride with a spectacular view of the Austrian alps, then a train ride down into the valley.


Copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and beyond! By Molly Kalafut