Innsbruck, Austria

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.

When we arrived, we headed straight for a Christmas market in Old Town.

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.

Random fact: The mirrors used in this time were actually made of thin glass underlain with paper and placed on cardboard.


Alex looked at this portrait and saw a bit of a resemblance to himself. He re-named Archduke Leopold “Alice”.

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..

*Picture courtesy of

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

“Giant” Street

It was a great trip to such a beautiful Alpine city!


6 thoughts on “Innsbruck, Austria

  1. Patty McHugh

    Great pics, once again, Steph! You climb to all heights to get the best pics possible…literally! Austria is another beautiful place to see! Alex certainly loves all of these adventures, too! He looks so warm and toasty in that snow suit.

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