FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Imperial Innsbruck and beyond

Posted in Austria, Innsbruck by folkestonejack on June 27, 2016

The resumption of our exploration of Innsbruck in our 48 hour visit brought us to the imperial monuments of the Hofburg and the Hofkirche.

The state apartments of the Hofburg are astonishingly beautiful, but it is the striking Hofkirche that is the standout sight here. We walked in as the clock chimed 9 o’clock and the church to ourselves for a goodly while, marvelling at the 28 large bronze statues that surround the tomb of Emperor Maximilian I (1459–1519). Most are the relatives and ancestors of Maximilian, though there are a handful of legendary figures amongst them such as King Arthur.

King Arthur stands guard over the memorial to Emperor Maximilian I in the Hofkirche

King Arthur stands guard over the memorial to Emperor Maximilian I in the Hofkirche

Although Maximilian designed his own tomb it was not completed until 68 years after his death (during the reign of his great grandson Maximilian II) and it doesn’t actually contain his body (which was buried in the castle at Wiener Neustadt).

The memorial at the centre of the church includes 24 white marble reliefs depicting key events from Maximilian’s life – all carved in minute detail. The kneeling figure of Maximilian I can be found at the top of all this. In short, the whole composition is a stunning piece of artistry.

In contrast the Hofburg delivers the imperial glory of a later era, specifically the rococo vision of Empress Maria Theresa. A leisurely tour of the imperial apartments delivers some pretty stunning punches, such as the astonishing Giants’ Hall which is decorated with a vast ceiling painting depicting the glory of the house of Habsburg and huge portraits of Maria Theresa’s family.

The intimate court chapel in the Hofburg offered the most poignant glimpse into imperial life. The chapel was created in the room in which Maria Theresa’s husband, Emperor Francis Stephen, died during the wedding celebrations for their son. A display case in an adjacent room contains the wooden ‘death crowns’ used by the royal family.

The Goldenes Dachl

The Goldenes Dachl

After leaving the Hofburg we headed to the last imperial sight of the day, the Goldenes Dachl. This imperial residence is famous for its ornately decorated and golden roofed oriel. It was, in essence, a viewing chamber for Maximilian I to observe life on the streets of Innsbruck. The tables have turned and now it is mostly the street life of Innsbruck that crowds around the building to observe its beauty!

Other sights in the city that we visited included the Dom. St Jacob, the Maximilianum, the Innsbruck City Archives, the Alpine Zoo, the Johanneskirche and the Servitenkirche. All served up their own delights, though we could perhaps have done without the sight of the vultures unfinished dinner at the zoo, a half eaten carcasse of a lamb, at lunchtime. However, this didn’t deter us from going for a rather delicious late lunch of beef goulash, pretzel dumplings and radler at the traditional Stiftskeller in the heart of the old town!

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