Visiting Hofburg, Innsbruck: What’s In The Imperial Palace

Nestled in the heart of the Alps and steeped in rich heritage, Innsbruck is undoubtedly one of Europe’s most captivating destinations. From its breathtaking scenery to its significant role in shaping Western civilization, this city has left me fascinated as I explore the continent and discover its wonders.

Did you know that Innsbruck was once at the heart of the Holy Roman Empire? In the 1500s, Emperor Maximilian I declared it the capital of the empire, cementing its place in history. Today, the Hofburg, or Imperial Palace, stands as a stunning testament to this rich heritage.

Today, the Hofburg remains one of the most iconic landmarks in Innsbruck. In this post, you’ll discover everything you need to know about this historic palace and why it’s an absolute must-see attraction. I’ve also included visitor information and helpful tips to help you make the most of your visit.

Blog Design Opening border
Featured Image, Visiting Hofburg, Innsbruck_ What’s In The Imperial Palace

Blog Design Closing border

This post may contain affiliate links. I may receive a tiny commission at no additional cost to you from any qualifying purchases using the link.

Like in many other European cities, taking a leisurely stroll through Altstadt (Old Town), Innsbruck feels like stepping into a postcard.

The streets are lined with charming pastel-colored houses and facades adorned with Lüftlmalerei, a traditional Tyrolean art form. As you wander, you’ll come across unique landmarks that take you on a journey back in time, right at the street junctions and squares. 

One of the remarkable landmarks which you’ll find in Altstadt Innsbruck is the Golden Roof — the symbol of the city. It’s an intricate balcony with a roof covered with 2000+ fire-gilded copper tiles. 

Just a stone’s throw away from the Golden Roof, you’ll find the most elegant building in Altstadt Innsbruck: the Imperial Palace of Innsbruck, also known as Hofburg. It’s the former palace residence of the Habsburgs and one of the notable landmarks in Innsbruck.

Blog Design Opening border

Save to Pinterest

Blog Design Closing border

Discover: Innsbruck’s best natural tourist attraction — How To Visit Nordkette: See Hafelekar the Top of Innsbruck.

Blog Design Image Button Back to Table of Contents

Photos of Hofburg (Imperial Palace)

Take a look at the different scenes outside the Imperial Palace. 

Blog Design Opening border Photos
View of the Imperial Palace (Hofburg) from Rennweg in Innsbruck, Austria
View of the Imperial Palace (Hofburg) from Rennweg
The entire facade of the Imperial Palace in Innsbruck, Austria
The entire facade of the Imperial Palace
The courtyard of the Imperial Palace (Hofburg) in Innsbruck, Austria
The courtyard of the Imperial Palace (Hofburg)
View of the Imperial Palace (Hofburg) at night in Innsbruck, Austria
View of the Imperial Palace (Hofburg) at night
Blog Design Closing border Photos

You must also visit Schloss Ambras (What to See in Innsbruck’s Most Beautiful Castle) aside from Hofburg. Aside from impressive artworks and architecture, Ambras Castle is also the world’s first museum. You have to check it out!

Blog Design Image Button Back to Table of Contents

Is Hofburg Worth Visiting?

To start appreciating the grandeur of Hofburg, head over to Rennweg.

Rennweg is a wide street that offers the perfect vantage point to admire the breathtaking east wing facade of the Imperial Palace, which is Hofburg’s most beautiful section (exterior) that a visitor can admire without entering the palace.

Although the facade of Hofburg Innsbruck may not be as awe-inspiring as that of Hofburg Vienna, Schloss Schönbrunn, or some of Europe’s other famous architectural wonders, a visit to this landmark is still highly recommended

Hofburg Innsbruck holds a special place in the history and culture of not just Innsbruck but all of Austria. Despite its understated facade, this majestic palace is a testament to the country’s rich heritage and is sure to leave a lasting impression on visitors.

Stepping inside the halls of Hofburg is like taking a journey through time, spanning several centuries. 

Hofburg offers visitors a fascinating glimpse into the extravagant lives of the many sovereigns who once called Hofburg home, including Duke Leopold IV, Maximilian I, and Empress Maria Theresa. As you explore this grand palace, you’ll be transported back in time to a world of lavish luxury and imperial grandeur.

Aside from its rich history, Hofburg is also a feast for the eyes, with its stunning architectural features and breathtaking masterpieces commissioned by the sovereigns who resided in it. Through its 7-century-long history, Hofburg was given a touch of different architectural styles like Italian, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and Rococo.

Of all its impressive sections, the Giant Hall stands out as an absolute must-see. From the moment you lay eyes on it, this magnificent hall is sure to leave you in awe of its grandeur.

If you are wondering for another beautiful place to see in Innsbruck, I suggest you see Tirol Panorama Museum — it’s a must-see historical masterpiece.

Blog Design Image Button Back to Table of Contents

What is Inside Hofburg (Innsbruck Imperial Palace)?

Describing the true value of a visit to Hofburg and suggesting how much time to spend there in just a few paragraphs is a daunting task. Therefore, let’s delve into some of the parts and features that you can expect to explore in this grand palace.

Note: unfortunately, photography is not allowed inside the Hofburg, so I won’t be able to share any pictures of its stunning interiors. However, I’m excited to provide you with a detailed description of the palace’s most impressive features and give you a sense of what makes a visit to this historic landmark in Innsbruck such a special experience. So let’s dive in and explore Hofburg together!

In summary, inside Hofburg, you’ll find a modern exhibition of Maximilian I, as well as a stately palace museum dating back to the time of Empress Maria Theresa.

The modern exhibition of Maximilian I offers a comprehensive exploration of the life and legacy of Emperor Maximilian I, allowing you to discover the many facets of his personality and the ways in which he sparked a new age.

Wandering through the exhibits, you’ll find digital reproductions and 3D illustrations on display. One of the highlights of the exhibits is the digitization of Maximilian I’s famous cenotaph, which allows you to experience this historical masterpiece in a truly unique way. 

Through the use of digital visualization and animation, you’ll also learn more about the architectural history of the Imperial Palace Innsbruck, gaining a deeper appreciation for the beauty and significance of this stunning structure.

But it’s not just the digital aspects of the exhibits that are impressive. You’ll also have the chance to see first-class exhibits and artifacts from more than 25 lenders from all over the world. This gives you a rare and invaluable opportunity to see historical artifacts and treasures that might otherwise be inaccessible.

As you explore the exhibits, you’ll come to understand the many ways in which Emperor Maximilian I influenced and shaped history

Aside from the exhibits, Hofburg also has more than 20 rooms and areas to explore (palace museum). But among them, the Guard Hall, Giant’s Hall, Council Chamber, Court Chapel, and Anteroom are the best parts you will also like.

Then, among these highlights, it’s the Hofburg Chapel that has the most historical significance. The Giant’s Hall, on the other hand, is the most visually stunning

The Hofburg Chapel has the most historical significance because it was constructed in the very room where Emperor Francis I died. (The emperor passed away suddenly after returning from the theater on 18 August 1765, during the wedding celebrations of Leopold II and Maria Luisa of Spain.)

Following the death of her husband, the chapel became an especially meaningful place for Empress Maria Theresa to remember and honor him. She ordered the room to be transformed into a chapel, complete with stunning Rococo embellishments in white and gold.

Today, visitors can admire the exquisite details and imagine the empress’s devotion to her beloved spouse.

When you arrive in the chapel, let your eyes wander. 

One thing you’re sure to notice is the altar, which is truly an impressive sight to behold. It features a larger-than-life sculpture group depicting the Blessed Virgin holding the lifeless body of Jesus in her arms, flanked by two mourning female figures.

I was struck by the intricate details of these female sculptures, and I think you will be too!

Here’s a fun fact for history buffs: if you examine the altar niche, you’ll notice a cartouche with a crowning scroll featuring the initials “M.T.” These letters stand for none other than Maria Theresa herself! It’s just one more fascinating detail to discover in the chapel.

Aside from the altar, the chapel also contains an organ with six registers built by Matthias Maracher from Zell am Ziller in 1857. There are also two matching paintings along the window wall, painted by Johann Georg Dominikus Grasmair in 1732 and 1733, depicting The Visitation and Young Mary in the Temple.

Also, notice the wood painting Jesus Embracing the Cross — it dates back to the late sixteenth century

If you’re exploring the palace in a counter-clockwise direction, you’ll come across the Giant’s Hall after passing through three rooms from the chapel. This magnificent space is the largest and most stunning area of Hofburg.

The Giant’s Hall is so enormous that it can accommodate over 170 guests during an imperial banquet.

Its vast size is just one of the many reasons visitors were undoubtedly wowed during the time of the empress. With its magnificent frescoes, sparkling chandeliers, and exquisite Rococo embellishments, the hall is truly a sight to behold.

Today, the Giant’s Hall has stunning frescoes featuring the children and grandchildren of Emperor Theresa. But, before, it was originally decorated with Hercules frescoes hence its name.

Tip: To avoid straining your neck while admiring the breathtaking frescoes on the ceiling, be sure to take a peek at the strategically placed mirrors in the center of the hall. They provide a perfect view of the ceiling artwork without any discomfort!

Of course, there are many more rooms to explore in Hofburg, and I recommend checking out the palace’s official website for a comprehensive discussion. You can find the link in the resources section of this post.

If you prefer to discover the details and history of the palace’s different rooms in person, you can skip the website. The palace museum also offers an audio guide, which allows you to explore the palace at your own pace.

Overall, I think it’s nice to visit Hofburg. But it still has room for improvement. Check them out below.

  • Limited furnishings: You may find that the palace lacks furniture, which can make it difficult to imagine what it was like during its heyday.
  • No photography: Visitors are not allowed to take photos, even without flash, which can be disappointing for those who want to document their visit.
  • Language barriers: Some exhibitions may only be presented in German, which could be a challenge for non-German-speaking visitors.
  • Lack of variety: Some visitors may find that the palace exhibits a lot of paintings of royals, which can become repetitive and uninteresting.
Blog Design Image Button Back to Table of Contents

Interesting Facts About Hofburg (History)

Understanding the history of Hofburg Palace can definitely enhance one’s visit to the palace. It provides visitors with a deeper appreciation of the architectural and artistic heritage of the palace. 

Also, by knowing about the palace’s rich history, visitors can imagine what it must have been like during the reigns of the Habsburgs and other historical figures who lived there. This can help transport visitors back in time and make their visit to Hofburg Palace even more memorable and meaningful.

The history of Hofburg spans 7 decades. It’s a long read but worthwhile if you’re interested in history. 

The story of Hofburg starts in the 1300s when the Counts of Görz-Tyrol, the current rulers of Innsbruck back in the day, started to transform the old city walls to a palace.

You can see the parts of the old wall still present in the current-day Hofburg. These include the South Roundel, which was once a gate called the Rumer Gate or Saggen Gate or Heraldic Tower; the North Roundel, which was once a round tower; and the Corner Cabinet museum room, which was once a rectangular defensive tower.

The old town wall went from the Rumer Gate to the round tower and then to the rectangular tower, which you can still see in the palace’s façade today.

Discover one of Innsbruck’s remaining towers: Stadtturm Innsbruck City Tower (The Best Views of Old Town)

In 1361, the House of Habsburg started ruling Tyrol. They were big contributors to the development of the Imperial Palace.

One of them was Duke Leopold IV of Austria, who was in charge between 1395 and 1406. He bought houses and properties near the palace and two gardens outside the town walls. These gardens are now called the Court Garden.

In 1446, Archduke Sigismund became the ruler of Tyrol. He expanded the Hofburg area by buying houses on Hofgasse and gardens near the cathedral. 

That year, he started building the Hofburg with the main building along Rennweg and part of the south wing along Hofgasse. He finished some rooms and a chapel in the east wing and even held a banquet in a heated hall in 1463. 

Sigismund also added a room with large windows and a winding staircase in the Rumer Gate and turned it into a living room. They also built an armory called the Harnaschhaus, where they made and stored suits of armor.

The Hofburg was made bigger and more beautiful in the late Gothic style under Emperor Maximilian I. It became known as “the most beautiful building of the late Gothic period.”

In 1495, they added to the north of the palace for Maximilian’s second wife, Bianca Maria Sforza. They moved the imperial apartments and banquet hall to the second floor, where the Giants’ Hall is now located. They also added an entrance hall to the north.

Between 1520 and 1530, the Hofburg was transformed into a building complex with courtyards and became the permanent residence of Emperor Ferdinand I and his family. 

However, a fire destroyed sections of the Hofburg a year later when Emperor Ferdinand I moved in. So, Ferdinand brought in Italian architect Lucius de Spaciis to redesign the east wing and create a new banquet hall.

The tall, pointed roofs in the Gothic style were slowly replaced with lower roofs that had triangular shapes at the top, which were typical of the early Renaissance style.

The Hofburg Palace was transformed from a Gothic palace to a Renaissance castle under Archduke Ferdinand II of Austria (1529–1595). He hired master builder Giovanni Lucchese to do the renovations in the Italian style. 

Also, during the improvement of The Hofburg palace, murals in the former chancellery rooms were added, as well as the paintings and the lavish furniture in the Golden Tower. It was also at this time that the Silver Chapel was added to the palace. 

In the 1600s, the Hofburg palace in Innsbruck was not renovated because of the Thirty Years’ War. This has caused the palace to fall into disrepair, and only important repairs were done. So, the royal family moved to Ruhelust Castle and later to Vienna, which replaced Innsbruck as the heart of the empire. 

In the 18th century, the Hofburg building underwent renovation in the Baroque style under the rule of Empress Maria Theresa. The reconstruction project began in 1754 and lasted until 1776, with two phases, which were again interrupted by the Seven Years’ War. 

The first phase of the renovation involved adding new offices in the south wing, creating a central staircase, standardizing the floor levels and room heights, and removing narrow stairs and unnecessary walls to create comfortable rooms with uniform flooring and evenly-spaced windows. 

When 1765 came, Empress Maria Theresa chose Innsbruck as the location for the wedding of her son and future emperor, Leopold II, and Maria Luisa of Spain. 

In preparation for the wedding, residential rooms were made ready for the couple in the newly renovated office wing. Additional rooms were prepared for the royal family in the southern rooms, as well as the east and north wings, which were known as the Imperial Apartments.

However, during the wedding celebrations, Francis I died suddenly after returning from the theater. This event made the Hofburg more significant to Maria Theresa, and she decided to use it as a memorial and representative building to honor her husband.

As per the empress’s instructions, the anteroom where Francis died was converted into the Hofburg Chapel in 1766.

More changes happened in Hofburg Palace. The east wing of the Hofburg building was redesigned to make way for the Noblewomen’s Collegiate Foundation, with new ceilings installed. 

A year after, Maria Theresa improved the design and appearance of the main façade on Rennweg with the help of her court architect Nikolaus Pacassi. She also asked Franz Anton Maulbertsch, a master of Austrian Rococo, to execute the Giants’ Hall ceiling fresco

These extended renovation projects under Maria Theresa resulted in the Hofburg building that we see today.

In the nineteenth century, the Hofburg underwent additional changes to reflect the Rococo style.

The last major reorganization of the imperial apartments took place in 1858, following the model of Schönbrunn Palace, and the residential area was designed in the Rococo style by Vienna court sculptor Auguste La Vigne.

Blog Design Image Button Back to Table of Contents

Hofburg (Innsbruck Imperial Palace) Visiting Information

Hofburg Innsbruck offers visitors the chance to explore the rich history and culture of Innsbruck through two types of tickets: the Imperial Apartments and Maximilian 1.

The last time I checked Hofburg’s official website, the Imperial Apartments ticket costs €9.50 for adults (with a reduced rate of €7 for those who qualify), while the Maximilian 1 ticket is priced at €7.50 (with a reduced rate of €5 for those who qualify).

Alternatively, visitors can purchase a combo ticket for both attractions at €15 (with a reduced rate of €10 for those who qualify).

Children and teens under the age of 19 can enter for free, while the Imperial Palace is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm (with the last entrance at 4:30 pm).

Get an idea of how you can spend day(s) in Innsbruck:

3 Different Ways to Spend 1 Day in Innsbruck Itinerary

Spend 2 Days In Innsbruck, Austria (a Budget Itinerary)

Links open in a new tab.

For those looking to maximize their Innsbruck experience, purchasing an Innsbruck Card is recommended.

The card provides free entry to the city’s museums (including Hofburg), one upwards and one downwards journey on lifts and cable cars, and free travel on the hop-on hop-off Sightseer bus, among other benefits. Swarovski Crystal Worlds and the Hall Mint Museum are also included in the card.

Don’t forget to check Hofburg’s official website for news, announcements, and specific dates when the palace has special opening hours/closed days.

Discover: Hofkirche (Court Church Innsbruck: 3 Reasons Why You Must See It) which is located literally only a few steps from Hofburg. It’s where the ornate cenotaph of Maximilian I is foud.

Must See: Innsbruck Cathedral (Innsbruck Cathedral: 5 Beautiful Reasons To Visit). It’s the church behind Hofburg and it has an awe-inspiring frescoes and stucco works made by the famous Asam Brothers.

Blog Design Image Button Back to Table of Contents

Resources: Hofburg Imperial Palace

Here’s where I got the information and facts about the Imperial Palace in Innsbruck:

If you are planning to visit Innsbruck and you don’t have accommodation yet, here’s where you can find the best hotel accommodation in Innsbruck. 

You might also want to get an Innsbruck City Card.

The Innsbruck City Card is nice-to-have for visitors to Innsbruck because it offers one-time entry to museums and attractions, free public transport on buses and trams, access to a hop-on hop-off bus, a shuttle bus to Swarovski Crystal Worlds, and cable car rides, providing cost savings, convenience, and access to key attractions and transportation options for exploring the city.

You can learn more about the Innsbruck City Card here. 

Blog Design Image Button Back to Table of Contents
Blog Design Opening border

Save to Pinterest

Blog Design Closing border

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *