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Nature and Culture
There is, quite simply, no place in the world that compares with Innsbruck: It is the only major city in the European Alps, and offers a combination of culture, history and nature unequaled anywhere else. All the comforts of a modern city are available - and yet one is completely enveloped by some of the world's most beautiful landscapes. Is there another city where you can see the majestic grandeur of the Alps from wherever you happen to find yourself standing?
The Habsburgs obviously counted themselves lucky that this city was within their realm. And what used to be more or less exclusive Habsburg vacation territory has long been accessible to all the world - and all the world comes to Innsbruck, the ideal vacation spot. In the meantime, modern roads have replaced ancient trading routes that were built to traverse the mountains.
800-year-old Innsbruck, even though it predates the Austrian empire, owes much to the Habsburgs, who, in turn, have left a distinct imprint during their 640-year long reign of Austria: it was mainly due to the monarchy that Innsbruck established its reputation as a cultural center, and as a city of numerous art treasures and many historic structures. Innsbruck's rich history is interwoven with that of the Habsburgs, whose wealth and sense of beauty and history left their mark: take the Goldene Dachl (Golden Roof), which is composed of 2,600 gilded tiles. One stands with awe in front of the Schwarze Mander (Black Men), 28 black larger than life bronze statues surrounding Emperor Maximilian's cenotaph at the Court Church (Hofkirche). The Gothic Imperial Court Palace with its Giant's Hall, Court Chapel and exhibition rooms is yet another example of the opulence of this imperial city. And the beautifully preserved romantic Renaissance-style Ambras Castle includes a world-renowned portrait gallery, featuring works by Titian, Van Dyck and Rubens.
The reputation of the Innsbruck Museum of Tyrolean Folk Art extends far beyond Austrian borders. It is the most important folk-art collection in the Alpine region including reconstructed rooms, original furniture, authentic costumes, old farming implements, and carnival masks. Its unique exhibition of historical and traditional Christmas crèches is open all year round. The crèches on display provide a superb insight into the development of this fascinating custom, which dates from 1608 with the Christmas crèche erected in Innsbruck's Jesuit church.
Copyright © Austrian National Tourist Office
Summer and Winter
Even before the Tyrol became known as a winter sports mecca, affluent Viennese and other Austrians used to spend their entire summer holidays in the mountains. In the meantime, these vacations have become accessible to everyone, and summer vacationing in the Tyrol is no longer an exclusive privilege for the idle rich. To be idle is indeed difficult in Innsbruck - there's simply too much to do: mountain hiking and biking programs accommodate beginners and experts alike; there's golf, tennis, paragliding, hang-gliding, tandem-parachute jumping or rafting; there are mountain-bike trails of all levels of difficulty and, of course, excursions from easy walks to moderately difficult hikes for those who don't want to exert themselves too much. And one can enjoy a sport that's unique to Europe - summer tobogganing on the famed Olympic run. If one wants to enjoy the view without much effort, an aerial tour over the Alps in a small sports plane might be just the thing.
Innsbruck, which has twice been an Olympic city, has a reputation for winter sports to uphold. And they are available in abundance: Alpine and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, ice sports, tobogganing and bobsled rides. Snow is guaranteed from mid-December to mid-April. Two of the seven ski areas in the greater Innsbruck area are of Olympic standard and the city has recently become a venue for world-class snowboarding events.
No need to rifle your pockets for change for those bus rides: the Innsbruck card includes free travel on public transport facilities, access to 21 sightseeing attractions (including those mentioned in this brochure) and a return trip to the top of "Nordkette" (7658 ft.), the Olympic "Patscherkofl" (7372 ft.) and a ride to the top of the Hungerburg. It also offers free entry to Innsbruck Casino, including a welcome drink at the bar. It may be obtained for 24, 48, or 72 hours, with prices starting at ATS 230.
Swarovski Crystal Worlds
The crystal ornaments of Swarovski, which are produced quite close to Innsbruck, are so popular that they are collected worldwide by people who have never even set foot in Austria! What better way to spend an afternoon (or even an entire day) than by taking an excursion from Innsbruck to Wattens, the source of these wondrous objects. Swarovski Crystal Worlds is not only a great place to shop, but it is an experience not to be missed it contains a museum with ever-changing breathtakingly beautiful exhibitions, and its serene beauty has led many a visitor to stay and meditate.
* Information is courtesy of the Austrian National Tourist Office
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Festivals & Events
Spanish Riding School
The Spanish Riding School in Vienna is one of Austria's most known attractions. Please note that seating as well as standing room at the Imperial Palace Home of the Spanish Riding School is limited.
Tel: (+431) 533 90 31
Fax: (+431) 533 90 32 40
Vienna Boys' Choir
An Austrian cultural institution, the Vienna Boys Choir can usually be heard Sunday mornings at the Imperial Palace Chapel and various concert performances.
Bruckner Festival Linz
September 15 - October 6
Numerous classical concerts with world renown orchestras and soloists in Anton Bruckners hometown. The Festival is ushered in each year by the Linz Cloud of Sounds.
Tel: ++43-732-77 52 30
Vienna Music Film Festival
Annually in July and August
Famous opera performances on screen, masterful concert interpretations every evening under the stars with the splendid backdrop of Vienna's City Hall
Free admission nightly during the summer months.
Vienna City Hall Park
(as part of the Vienna Festival)
May 1 to June 16
The Vienna Festival concerts are the highlights of Vienna's concert season. The world's most renowned orchestras, conductors and soloists will be performing, among them in 2002: the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra directed by Claudio Abbado and the Wiener Philharmoniker (Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra) directed by Sir Simon Rattle.
Annually around Easter time
The music festival is opened by Bach's "Passion of St. Mathews" performed by the Wiener Philharmoniker under Nikolaus Harnoncourt at the Musikverein. Concerts at the Musikverein, the Konzerthaus and the Hofburgkapelle, a scenic oratorio performed at Odeon and an Easter Night concert at St. Stephen's cathedral round off the program.
Vienna State Opera
One of the most famous opera houses in the world, program runs from September through June each year.
Tel: ++43-1-513 1 513 (ticket sales one month prior to desired performance)
Mid April to Mid November
This Benedictine Abbey was founded in 1089 and is a major representation of Austrian Baroque architecture. Melk Abbey is overlooking the Danube River and can easily be visited during any Wachau Valley excursions.