For a spontaneous winter vacation, we decided to head to Innsbruck (the capital city of Tyrol) for an extended weekend on December 16. We packed up the car and made the 4 hour drive to this beautiful city in western Austria. Christmas was in the air as soon as we arrived with the snowy Alps surrounding us, the smell of glühwein (mulled wine), bright lights from the Christmas markets, and people scurrying about to get their last-minute presents.
Afterwards, we saw the Golden Roof, which was a gift from Archduke Friedrich IV to Emperor Maximilian I in the early 15th century so that he could sit in luxury and enjoy watching tournaments in the square below.
The following day we took a tram to “Olympia World” to see the olympic ice rink. Innsbruck hosted the winter olympics in 1964 and 1976. For me, it was a big deal to see the rink. Next year, Innsbruck is hosting the 2012 youth winter olympics.
From the rink, we hopped on a bus to Schloss Ambras, a Renaissance castle acquired by Archduke Ferdinand II.
The very impressive Spanish Hall – a 45 meter long banquet hall with Tyrolean leaders painted on the walls and a carved wood ceiling.
The lower chamber of the castle was converted into a museum filled with replicas of the artillery, armor, portraits, paintings and artifacts from the middle ages.
Our next stop was the Triumphal Arch, built in 1765 as ordered by Empress Maria Theresa. The arch serves two purposes; one side to symbolizes the marriage of the Empress’ son, while the other symbolizes the sadness of her husband’s death.
Maria Theresa Street
Innsbruck by night
Our last day in Innsbruck we visited the Imperial (Hofburg) Palace, originally built in 1453 and housed generations of provincial royalties. The rooms were stunning! My favorites were the grand ballroom, dining room that was set for a banquet, and Maria Theresa’s room decked out in pink silk and gold. Unfortunately no pictures were allowed to be taken, but I did find this one online of the ballroom..
From the palace, we walked once more through Old Town, where Claudio ate his millionth wurst (sausage) and I climbed 148 steps to the top of the city tower.
This was the view
If you look closely, you can see the Bergisel Ski Jump in the back
Two familiar faces from down below
And our last stop, St. Jacob’s Cathedral
It was a great trip to such a beautiful Alpine city!