St. Jacob’s Cathedral towers over the city of Innsbruck, Austria Feb. 28, 2009. Innsbruck offers a variety of activities and was host to the 1964 and 1976 Olympic Games. (U.S. Air Force photo/2nd Lt. Brian Wagner)
People walk past the Golden Roof in Innsbruck, Austria Feb. 28, 2009. The roof contains 2,738 gold-plated copper tiles and is the most popular tourist attraction in Innsbruck. (U.S. Air Force photo/2nd Lt. Brian Wagner)
by 2nd Lt. Brian Wagner
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
2/16/2010 - AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- Have you ever heard of Innsbruck before? Is it even on your "Places to Visit" list? If not, I'll describe the city and let you decide if Innsbruck is worth adding to your list.
My experience began while browsing the upcoming ITT trips in the Compass. I saw they offered a trip to Innsbruck and Swarovski's Crystal World. After some online browsing for information, I was definitely interested in exploring Innsbruck. Me and my wife booked the trip and headed for Innsbruck a few weeks later.
When we got there, we were met by a tour guide who took us to the city center and pointed out historic buildings along the way. It was nice because the tour guide showed us all the main sites, but also left plenty of time to check them out on our own.
After the tour concluded at St Jacob's Cathedral, we explored on our own. In the 3 hours we had to explore, my wife and I tried to hit all the popular sites. We first made our way to the Golden Roof to get some photos of the sun shining on the golden tiles. The city tower was only about 50 yards away, so we climbed up to the top for some amazing views of the city and surrounding mountains. From the tower, we walked through the Imperial Palace's courtyard on our way to the railway station.
The ride to the top of the mountain overlooking Innsbruck consists of three segments: one five minute train and two steep climbs in a cable car. Each minute along the way, the view grew more and more amazing. When we reached the final stop, we climbed another hundred yards to the top of the mountain and were truly amazed at the view. It is currently my favorite view in Europe. After admiring the view, we headed down the mountain to rejoin our group. We were off to our next stop.
We arrived at Swarovski's Crystal World. The unique entrance features a large plant sculpture with a waterfall. After you step in the building, you enter the world of crystals. The exhibit is largely an interactive experience with crystals and light. Before you leave, there are plenty of crystal objects and creations to buy as souvenirs.
Hopefully, you are inspired to add Innsbruck on your list before you depart Europe. The upcoming ITT trip is a perfect time to visit and experience much the same places I was able to view during last year's trip. Enjoy your travels!
Here is a list of the things you'll want to see in Innsbruck. Check out the city's tourism site for more things to do. The following information comes from Innsbruck's Tourism Office Web site: (www.innsbruck.info)
The Golden Roof- This is the most visited tourist attraction in Innsbruck. The roof is a three-story balcony on the central plaza at the heart of the Old Town. The roof is capped with 2,738 gold-plated copper tiles. It was constructed the early 15th century for Emperor Maximilian I to serve as a royal box where he could sit in luxury and enjoy tournaments in the square below.
The City Tower- The tower was built between 1442 and 1450. It offers stunning views over Innsbruck's roofs and the surrounding Alpine scenery.
St. Jacob's Cathedral- The heavily baroque style cathedral has been built between 1717 and 1724. The famous picture of Virgin Mary, named "Mariahilf" (Mary help us) is situated at the altar and was painted by Lukas Cranach the older.
Hafelekar overview- The ride from the city center to an altitude of 2,300m takes just 20 minutes. On reaching the upper station, visitors can enjoy a breathtaking view of the city of Innsbruck on the one side and the unforgettable vista of untouched, pristine nature on the other.
The Imperial Palace- The palace was erected by Archduke Siegmund the Rich in late Gothic style around 1460. It was rebuilt in the Baroque style between 1754 and 1773 on orders of Empress Maria Theresa.
The Hofkirche (Imperial Church)- This church in Innsbruck, with its memorial for Emperor Maximilian I, is the most prominent tomb memorial for an emperor in Europe. The extensive memorial consists of a cenotaph with the figure of the kneeling emperor and 24 reliefs depicting his deeds on the sarcophagus in the middle of the nave and 28 larger than life statues of his ancestors between the pillars of the nave. The Renaissance organ on the right hand side of the choir wall by Jörg Ebert from Ravensburg counts as one of the five most famous organs in the world and is in addition the largest nearly undamaged organ from the Renaissance in Austria.