Innsbruck , definitely one of my favourits! Which is obvious as I studied there. (watch our video here: Matt Carroll’s Hidden Treasures: Episode 2 – Graz, Innsbruck, Salzburg ) But let’s see what Andy – www.501places.com -says about it.
“My return to Innsbruck was long overdue. I had been here once before in the summer of 1987 as a teenage backpacker. I remembered nothing about the city itself; only that I had been struck by its spectacular setting among the Alpine peaks. I really enjoyed my latest visit to Innsbruck. In fact I’d go so far as to list it among one of my favourite European cities. It’s easily covered on foot, full of impressive architecture to admire and enjoys a relaxed vibe. Oh, and the mountains: they are still there, looming over the city and creating that picture perfect backdrop.
My time in Innsbruck was limited, so I had to move quickly between sights. I have a soft spot for a good view, so the mountains on either side of the city drew me in immediately. On the north of the city the modern Nordkettenbahn takes visitors from the city centre onto the mountain tops in around 20 minutes. It feels strange to start a journey up a mountain by heading down an escalator but the starting point of the cable car journey feels very much like an underground station. Soon enough I had left the warm spring afternoon behind and had stepped out onto ankle deep fresh snow at the Seegrube station. There is a restaurant and café here where you can enjoy your dinner while admiring the view of the city, over 1300 metres below. The cable car runs every 15 minutes and the last car up leaves the city at 7.15 each day.
I paid €24 to ride the Nordkettenbahn and only later realised that I could have purchased an Innsbruck Card for €29 that would have covered the cost and a lot more besides.
On the other side of town one building dominates the skyline. It is the Bergisel skijumping stadium, opened in 2002 and designed by famous British architect Zaha Hadid. Innsbruck was host to the winter Olympics in both 1964 and 1976, and this became one of the world’s most important skijumping venues. Now a popular visitor attraction, those of us who can barely put on a pair of skis, let alone consider hurling ourselves into the air off a vertigo-inducing slope, can admire both the modern building and the achievements that took place at this arena. 14 infoboards provide an introduction to skijumping and the history of this stadium. A cable car runs from the entrance to the base of the tower, and a lift then takes visitor up to the viewpoint and a restaurant. The prices here are surprisingly reasonable, whether for a meal or a cake and coffee.
If you prefer to enjoy your view within the city itself then head for the 15th century City Tower. Here you can enjoy 360 degree views of the roofs of Innsbruck and of its many beautiful buildings.
Innsbruck’s most famous sight is without doubt its Golden Roof. Built for the Emperor Maximilian I by the Archduke Ferdinand IV in the 15th century, the roof consists of 2657 fine gilt copper tiles. The square below the roof attracts a constant stream of tourists who flock to take a picture and visit the museum of the roof within the building. It is worth taking a look at the roof in the night when the lack of sunlight makes it look a very different dull green.
One of the quirkier museums of Innsbruck is the Bell Museum, on the road out to the Bergisel skijump. Here you can learn about the history of bells and see the workshop where the Grassmayer company have been making bells for over 400 years. The museum recently won the Best Museum award from the National Ministry of Culture. A variety of bells are on display, and there are plenty of opportunities to make your own noise in this hands-on museum. It’s hard to tell where the museum ends and the factory begins and I was left to wonder into offices and workshops without any sort of guidance.
More on Andy’s experience in Austria you will find here.
Tags: Cities, Hidden Treasures, Summer