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Innsbruck

INNSBRUCK, the capital of the Austrian province of Tirol, and one of the most beautifully situated towns in Europe. In 1900 the population was 26,866 (with a garrison of about 2000 men), mainly German-speaking and Romanist. Built at a height of 1880 ft., in a wide plain formed by the middle valley of the Inn and on the right bank of that river, it is surrounded by lofty mountains that seem to overhang the town. It occupies a strong military position (its commercial and industrial importance is now but secondary) at the junction of the great highway from Germany to Italy over the Brenner Pass, by which it is by rail 1095 m. from Munich and 1745 m. from Verona, with that from Bregenz in the Vorarlberg, distant 122 m., by rail under the Arlberg Pass. It takes its name from its position, close to the chief bridge over the Inn. It is the seat of the supreme judicial court of the Tirol, the Diet of which meets in the Landhaus. The streets are broad, there are several open places and the houses are handsome, many of those in the old town dating from the 17th and 18th centuries, and being adorned with frescoes, while the arcades beneath are used as shops.

The principal monument is the Franciscan or Court church (1553-1563). In it is the magnificent 16th-century cenotaph (his body is elsewhere) of the emperor Maximilian (d. 1519), who, as count of the Tirol from 1490 onwards, was much beloved by his subjects. It represents the emperor kneeling in prayer on a gigantic marble sarcophagus, surrounded by twenty-eight colossal bronze statues of mourners, of which twenty-three figure ancestors, relatives or contemporaries of Maximilian, while five represent his favourite heroes of antiquity among these five are the two finest statues (both by Peter Vischer of Nuremberg), those of King Arthur of Britain and of Theodoric, the Ostrogothic king. On the sides of the sarcophagus are twenty-four marble reliefs, depicting the principal events in the life of Maximilian, nearly all by Alexander Colin of Malines, while the general design of the whole monument is attributed to Gilg Sesselschreiber, the court painter. In one of the aisles of the same church is the Silver Chapel, so called from a silver Madonna and silver bas-reliefs on the altar; it contains the tombs of Archduke Ferdinand, count of the Tirol (d. 1595) and his non-royal wife/ Philippine Welser of Augsburg (d. 1580), whose happy married life spent close by is one of the most romantic episodes in Tirolese history. In the other aisle are the tombs, with monuments, of the heroes of the War of Independence of 1809, Hofer, Haspinger and Speckbacher. It was in this church that Queen Christina of Sweden, daughter of Gustavus Adolphus, abjured Protestantism, in 1655. There are also several other churches and convents, among the latter the first founded (1593) in Germany by the Capuchins.

The university of Innsbruck was formally founded in 1677, and refounded (after two periods of suspension, 1782-1792 and 1810-1826) in 1826. It is attended by about 1000 students and has a large staff of professors, the theological faculty being controlled by the Jesuits. It has a library of 176,000 books, and 1049 MSS. The University or Jesuit church dates from the early lyth century. The Ferdinandeum is the provincial museum (founded in 1823, though the present building is later). The house known as the Goldne Dachl has its roof covered with gilded copper tiles; it was built about 1425, by Frederick, count of the Tirol, nicknamed " with the empty pockets," but the balcony and gilded roof were added in 1500 by the emperor Maximilian. Among the other monuments of Innsbruck may be mentioned the Pillar of St Anne, erected in 1706 to commemorate the repulse of the French and the Bavarians in 1703; the Triumphal Arch, built in 1765, on the occasion of the marriage of the future emperor Leopold II. with the Infanta Maria Louisa of Spain; and a fountain, with a bronze statue of Archduke Leopold V., set up in 1863-1877, in memory of the five-hundredth anniversary of the union of the Tirol with Austria.

The Roman station of Veldidena was succeeded by the Premonstratensian abbey of Wilten, both serving to guard the important strategical bridge over the Inn. In 1180 the count of Andechs (the local lord) moved the market-place over to the right bank of the river (where is the convent), and in 1187 we first hear of the town by its present name. Between 1233 and 1235 it was fortified, and a castle built for the lord. But it was only about 1420 that Archduke Frederick IV. (" with the empty pockets ") built himself a new castle in Innsbruck, which then replaced Meran as the capital of Tirol. The county of Tirol was generally held by a cadet line of the Austrian house, the count being almost an independent ruler. But the last princeling of this kind died in 1665, since which date Innsbruck and Tirol have been governed from Vienna. In 1552 Maurice of Saxony surprised and nearly took Innsbruck, almost capturing the emperor Charles V. himself, who escaped owing to a mutiny among Maurice's troops. In the patriotic war of 1809, Innsbruck played a great part and suffered much, while in 1848, at the time of the revolution in Vienna, it joyfully received the emperor Ferdinand. (W. A. B. C.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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