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Archeological finds in the area of Innsbruck show that the area was already inhabited in prehistoric times. The Romans built a civil and military settlement at the Via Claudia Augusta in AD 46/47. This settlement, called Veldidena, later became the village of Wilten which today is part of the municipality of Innsbruck. Around 11651170 the Bavarian Counts of Andechs founded a settlement north of the river Inn (today the cadastral district Hötting) and also built a bridge across the river. This place was first mentioned in 1167/1183 as Inspruk (German 'Brücke' = bridge). From 1180 the Counts of Andechs (now Dukes of Andechs-Meranien) also obtained the area south of the bridge. This part of the town later developed into today's centre of the old town. Already in 1187/1204 Innsbruck obtained the freedom of the city. Innsbruck became part of Tyrol in 1263 and came into possession of the Habsburgs in 1363. From 1420 it became ducal residence and the centre of the province. The appearance of the old town is still determined by the buildings that were erected under Emperor Maximilian I (14591519), Emperor Ferdinand I (1503–1564), Archduke Ferdinand II (15291595) and Archduke Leopold V (1586–1632) of Tyrol, and Empress Maria Theresia (17171780). During the 19th century the construction of the railway lines from Innsbruck to Munich (1856–1858), via the Brenner pass to Bozen/Bolzano in South Tyrol (now Italy) (1864–1867) and across the Arlberg to Bludenz and Bregenz in Vorarlberg (18821884) initiated a major period of industrial growth. Innsbruck was host of the Olympic Winter Games twice, in 1964 and in 1979.
The so-called Goldenes Dachl (Golden Roof) [left] is Innsbruck's premier landmark. The state-oriel was built by Niklas Türing the Elder 1497/981500 by order of Maximilian I for the celebration of the year 1500. The roof is made of gilded copper which was the origin of its popular name. The building had served as a second town residence before the reign of Maximilian. Since 1996 it houses the Museum Maximilianeum.
The Maria-Theresien-Straße [left and right] was named after
Maria Theresia (17171780), Archduchess of Austria, Queen of Hungary and Bohemia.
Her husband Franz Stephan Duke of Lorraine (17081765)
was elected Emperor (Franz I) of the Holy Roman Empire in 1745.
The Hofkirche (Court Church) [left and below right] was built in 15531563 in Late Gothic and Early Renaissance style by Emperor Ferdinand I as a burial church for his grandfather, Emperor Maximilian I. In 1508, Maximilian himself had commissioned 40 bronze statues (larger than life) of important members from the House of Habsburg. In 1519, at the time of Maximilian's death in Wels, 10 statues were completed, 18 were completed until 1550. In his last will Maximilian had decided to be buried in the chapel of his residence in Wiener Neustadt. The 28 statues (nicknamed "die Schwarzen Mannder", "the Black Men"), 34 busts of Roman Emperors, and further 23 smaller statues of saints, however, remained in Innsbruck. Ferdinand I had them set up in the Hofkirche around the splendid (but empty) tomb of Maximilian.
The leader of the Tyrolean uprising in 1809 against Bavaria and France, Andreas Hofer (17671810) was buried in the Hofkirche in 1823, thirteen years after being
court-martialled and executed in Mantova, Italy, on Napoleon's instruction. Only after Napoleon's defeat in the "Battle of Nations" in Leipzig in 1813 and
the Congress of Vienna in 1814/1815, Tyrol became part of Austria again.
According to a legend, Wilten Monastery [left no. 1743: foreground right]
was founded in 880 AD; in fact, it is more likely that it was founded before 1138 by bishop Reginbert of
Brixen (Bressanone), who called in Premonstratensians from the Upper Swabian monastery of
Rot an der Rot who replaced a prior collegiate of secular priests. The monastery obtained papal approval in 1138.
Beneath the monastery biuldings, remains of the Roman village Veldidena were discovered. The monastery was
closed between 1807 and 1816 due to a ruling of the kingdom of Bavaria. During the Nazi period, the monastery was
forced to sell the complex to the Reichsgau Tirol-Vorarlberg. After the bombings during World War II (in 1943 and 1944,
the monastery had to be reconstructed; these works were completed only in 1988 on the 850th anniversary of its foundation.
The monastery church was built in splendid Baroque style by court architect Christoph Gumpp and was consecrated in by the bishop of Brixen (Bressanone) in 1665. The church replaced the earlier Gothic church which had been destroyed by the collapse of its tower. The north tower was completed in 1667, while the south tower was never completed.
The Wilten Basilica (parish church and basilica of our Lady of the Immaculate Conception)
[left no. 1743: far left, barely visible] was built in 1751–1756 in Rococo style.
Several churches have stood in its place already before. Archeological studies show that the earliest of these
churches dated from the early 5th century, i.e. the Roman period. Already since the 13th century, the place
had been a popular pilgrimage site. In 1957 the church obtained the status of a basilica minor by decree
of Pope Pius XII.