Innsbruck Cathedral: 5 Beautiful Reasons To Visit

After exploring Old Town Innsbruck, I was absolutely amazed by the stunning churches in the historic center. At first glance at their exteriors, they may not appear particularly impressive, but once you step inside, you’ll be treated to a visual feast for the eyes.

The interiors of these churches are beautifully adorned with intricate details and house awe-inspiring regional artistic treasures. Among them, two churches stood out to me the most: Hofkirche (Court Church of Innsbruck), and Dom zu St. Jakob (Innsbruck Cathedral).

If you’re eager to uncover Innsbruck’s most important treasures, Hofkirche is an absolute must-visit. But for those seeking breathtaking architectural grandeur, Innsbruck Cathedral is the place to be. In this blog post, I’m going to show you how beautiful Innsbruck Cathedral is

While it’s undeniably true that visiting alpine cities like Innsbruck mainly offers breathtaking experiences, we mustn’t overlook the incredible richness of their culture and history.

For me, that’s what makes these destinations so special — the blend of awe-inspiring nature and fascinating cultural heritage.

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The Old City of Innsbruck dominated by Dom zu St. Jakob and the snow-capped Nordkette seen from the Inn River, Innsbruck, Austria
The Old City of Innsbruck dominated by Dom zu St. Jakob and the snow-capped Nordkette seen from the Inn River
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As a city that once served as a center of a magnificent empire, Innsbruck boasts an abundance of captivating places of interest where you can immerse yourself in history and witness awe-inspiring works of art. These remarkable sites, seen all around Old Town Innsbruck, stand as testaments to the boundless creativity and prosperity of the people throughout different eras.

When strolling through Old Town Innsbruck, you won’t have any trouble finding these captivating tourist destinations that are brimming with history and art.

They effortlessly catch your eye with their striking facades or commanding presence, such as the magnificent Innsbruck Cathedral. As one of the landmarks dominating the skyline of the Old Town, you should be able to spot it right away from the different vantage points (for example, Stadtturm) within and around the city. 

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View of Innsbruck Cathedral against the majestic Nordkette Mountains in the backdrop, Innsbruck, Austria
View of Innsbruck Cathedral against the majestic Nordkette Mountains in the backdrop
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Discover Stadtturm Innsbruck City Tower: The Best Views of Old Town Innsbruck

So, what is Innsbruck Cathedral all about? Innsbruck Cathedral is an eighteenth-century Roman Catholic Church and the seat of the Diocese of Innsbruck. Dedicated to the city’s patron, Saint James, locals also call it Dom zu St. Jakob or the Cathedral of Saint James.

Innsbruck Cathedral is incredibly accessible once you find yourself in the heart of Innsbruck’s historic center. You’ll be delighted to discover that Innsbruck Cathedral is just a short stroll away, mere minutes on foot, from the most renowned landmarks, such as the iconic Golden Roof and Hofburg.

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The Golden Roof that’s a 2 to 3-minute walk from Innsbruck Cathedral in Old Town Innsbruck, Austria
The Golden Roof that’s a 2 to 3-minute walk from Innsbruck Cathedral in Old Town Innsbruck
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Learn more: Innsbruck’s Golden Roof (Visiting The Symbol of The City) and Visiting Hofburg (What’s In Innsbruck Imperial Palace)

5 Beautiful Reasons to Visit Innsbruck Cathedral

In addition to Innsbruck Cathedral’s religious significance and its easily accessible location, there are five exquisite and distinctive features inside that make it an absolute must-see when visiting Innsbruck.

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To me, missing out on this experience would be a regrettable oversight.

1. Art and Architecture by Asam Brothers

When it comes to travel, the sheer beauty of Innsbruck Cathedral’s interiors is the primary reason why every visitor should make a point to see it.

The art and architecture, skillfully contributed by the renowned Asam Brothers, are nothing short of breathtaking. Their masterpieces exemplify the pinnacle of German late Baroque style and craftsmanship.

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Awe-inspiring frescoes and stucco works by Asam Brothers on the ceiling of Innsbruck Cathedral’s nave, Innsbruck, Austria
Awe-inspiring frescoes and stucco works by Asam Brothers on the ceiling of Innsbruck Cathedral’s nave
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I first learned about the Asam Brothers during my exploration of the vibrant city of Munich in Bavaria, Germany. I was conducting research for another travel article back then when I stumbled upon a hidden gem, a small church, that introduced me to the remarkable Asam Brothers.

It was along Sendlingerstraße, amidst a row of townhouses and apartments, that I stumbled upon this small church situated on a narrow lot. It has this very welcoming facade that immediately caught my attention, compelling me to venture inside.

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The facade and the tower of Asamkirche in Sendlingerstraße, Munich, Germany
The facade and the tower of Asamkirche in Sendlingerstraße, Munich, Germany
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Guess what, to say that I was only stunned as soon as I laid my sights on the church would be an understatement!

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The overwhelmingly stunning works of the Asam Brothers inside their church in Munich, Germany
The overwhelmingly stunning works of the Asam Brothers inside their church in Munich, Germany
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Despite its modest size, the church overflowed with an overwhelming beauty in every intricate detail. The play of natural light that filtered through the windows created an ethereal atmosphere, truly akin to a heavenly experience.

Unquestionably, it is the most exquisite church I have encountered in all of Munich.

Filled with curiosity, I promptly sought out the church’s name and discovered it to be Asamkirche — the renowned church owned by the talented Asam Brothers — the very same artists responsible for the awe-inspiring interiors of Innsbruck Cathedral.

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The frescoes and stucco works of Asam Brothers on the transept’s ceiling of Innsbruck Cathedral, Innsbruck, Austria
The frescoes and stucco works of Asam Brothers on the transept’s ceiling of Innsbruck Cathedral
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Asam Brother’s masterful craftsmanship, evident in Innsbruck Cathedral, guarantees that you will be left in absolute awe. Because of their work, many consider Innsbruck Cathedral among the most important Baroque buildings in Tyrol

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The incredible view of the Innsbruck Cathedral’s interiors when facing east and west under the transept, Innsbruck, Austria
The incredible view of the Innsbruck Cathedral’s interiors when facing east and west under the transept
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Although there are plenty of things inside Innsbruck Cathedral that can catch your sight the moment you enter the church, such as the geometric marble floor, ornate pulpit, and stunning altars, nothing can compare to the sheer spectacle of the cathedral’s ceiling.

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The ornate pulpit and the bright high dome of Innsbruck Cathedral, Innsbruck, Austria
The ornate pulpit and the bright high dome of Innsbruck Cathedral
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It is on the ceiling that the remarkable contributions of the Asam Brothers are found. Their frescoes and stucco works adorning the ceiling are lavish beyond description.

Among the extraordinary features of Innsbruck Cathedral, what truly stood out to me was the captivating cycle of frescoes along the nave. These frescoes depict various scenes from the life of Saint James.

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The first two of the three domes with cycle of frescoes by Damian Asam viewed from Innsbruck Cathedral's main portal, Innsbruck, Austria
The first two of the three domes with cycle of frescoes by Damian Asam viewed from Innsbruck Cathedral’s main portal
The third dome (transept dome) with the cycle of frescoes depicting the life of Saint James in Innsbruck Cathedral, Innsbruck, Austria
The third dome (transept dome) with the cycle of frescoes depicting the life of Saint James in Innsbruck Cathedral
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Created by Cosmas Damian Asam, the elder of the two Asam Brothers, who honed his skills in Italy, these frescoes exhibit a remarkable mastery of the technique of optical illusion. When you gaze upon them, it becomes evident how incredible Cosmas Damian was in incorporating optical illusions into his masterpieces.

One particularly fascinating effect can be experienced when standing below the first fresco of the cycle near the main portal. As you look up, the cycle creates an illusion that Innsbruck Cathedral boasts three additional “high” domes, in addition to the bright high dome above the choir. 

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The intricate stucco works by Egid Quirin Asam between the transept and choir of Innsbruck Cathedral, Innsbruck, Austria
The intricate stucco works by Egid Quirin Asam between the transept and choir of Innsbruck Cathedral
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On the other hand, the stucco work crafted by Egid Quirin Asam, the younger Asam brother, harmoniously combines elements reminiscent of the Renaissance era. Their intricate forms and vibrant colors that effectively enhance the prominence of the frescoes made by his older brother.

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2. Maria Hilf (Mary of Succor)

As a devout Catholic, I was thrilled to discover that Innsbruck Cathedral is home to the revered Maria Hilf painting, also known as Mary of Succor.

It holds a special place in the hearts of believers worldwide as one of the most venerated depictions of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus in all of Christendom. If you share my devotion, it’s definitely a compelling reason to visit Innsbruck Cathedral.

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Zoomed-in shot of Maria Hilf painting displayed in the high altar of Innsbruck Cathedral, Innsbruck, Austria
Zoomed-in shot of Maria Hilf painting displayed in the high altar of Innsbruck Cathedral
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Many faithful followers believe that this painting beautifully captures the dignity of the Queen of Heaven, as well as the charm and gentleness of a mother.

Among the nine altars inside the cathedral, you’ll find this remarkable image adorning the high altar, which showcases exquisite late Baroque craftsmanship—a true testament to Austria’s artistic heritage.

Maria Hilf stands proudly at the heart of the altar, representing Innsbruck Cathedral’s most precious treasure.

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The ethereal light effect in Innsbruck Cathedral’s choir created by the windows of the church’s high dome, Innsbruck, Austria
The ethereal light effect in Innsbruck Cathedral’s choir created by the windows of the church’s high dome
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For all visitors, discovering Maria Hilf is a time-transporting experience that not only provides insight into the typical Baroque veneration of Mary for centuries but also unveils a cherished gift given almost 400 years ago by John George I, Elector of Saxony, to Archduke Leopold V and the people of Innsbruck.

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3. Tomb of Archduke Maximilian III

Maria Hilf offers a glimpse into Austrian history, but it’s not the only fascinating piece of heritage inside Innsbruck Cathedral.

One such treasure is the Tomb of Archduke Maximilian III, which alone is reason enough to visit Innsbruck Cathedral. It’s true, especially that the tomb of Archduke Maximilian III is considered one of the finest Austrian Mannerist sculptures.

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Tomb of Archduke Maximilian III in Innsbruck Cathedral’s left arm of the transept, Innsbruck, Austria
Tomb of Archduke Maximilian III in Innsbruck Cathedral’s left arm of the transept
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Unlike most tombs hidden in church crypts, this one is easily visible. Imagine you’re already inside Innsbruck Cathedral, awestruck by the magnificent high altar in the transept. When you turn to your left, you’ll quickly spot the tomb, adorned with a beautifully designed canopy.

I highly recommend getting closer to appreciate its exquisite details, especially the intricately decorated pillars. They feature vine leaves, birds, and small animals, showcasing craftsmanship on par with the Black Men in Hofkirche.

From a good viewing angle, you can see a lifelike representation of Maximilian III atop his canopied tomb. The sculpture depicts the archduke kneeling on a cushion with folded hands in prayer, accompanied by Saint George standing beside him, hands resting on the archduke’s shoulders. 

If you’re not familiar with him, Maximilian III was the fourth son of Emperor Maximilian II and Empress Maria of Austria. In 1585, he became the Grandmaster of the Teutonic Order, earning the epithet “the German Master.”

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4. Tyrol’s Loveliest Organ

Did you know that Austria is often referred to as the “Land of Music“? It’s a country that was home to legendary classical musicians like Beethoven, Mozart, and many more.

Throughout Austria, you’ll find numerous places where you can attend festivals and immerse yourself in the rich musical heritage, gaining a deeper understanding and appreciation of their masterpieces.

Innsbruck, while not being the central hub of Austria’s musical culture, also has musical experiences that give its visitors a unique travel delight.

In fact, Innsbruck takes pride in having the largest collection of historic organs in the country. The locals and the government work hand in hand to preserve this precious musical treasure.

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The giant ornate organ of Innsbruck Cathedral, Innsbruck, Austria
The giant ornate organ of Innsbruck Cathedral
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So, where can you indulge in this distinctive musical culture in Innsbruck? Look no further than Innsbruck Cathedral! This magnificent venue hosts wonderful organ concerts that make one’s visit to the cathedral more special.

For more information, you can check the link provided in the description.

While there are several other places in Innsbruck where you can enjoy similar musical experiences, I highly recommend visiting Innsbruck Cathedral. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to hear beautiful symphonies played on an organ that is widely regarded as the loveliest Baroque organ in Tyrol

Although Innsbruck Cathedral’s organ may not be as visually striking as the frescoes and stucco works of the Asam brothers, the musical experience it offers can definitely be the unique experience you can look forward to during your time in Innsbruck. 

If you want to see the organ in Innsbruck Cathedral, it is just situated above the main portals on the western side of the church. With its exquisite ornamental gilt-laden casing and beautifully carved details, you can see it there serving as a magnificent complement to the opulent high altar.

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5. Hair Raising Sound of the Bells

What makes old churches like Innsbruck Cathedral truly fascinating is their ability to satisfy our wanderlust with their heavenly interiors and transport us through time with the ethereal music emanating from their organs. 

In the case of Innsbruck Cathedral, it elevates this enchanting experience with its exceptional bells. This magnificent cathedral not only preserves some of Austria’s most historic bells but also proudly houses the largest and most extensive carillon in the entire country.

In fact, since 1982, Innsbruck Cathedral has been home to 48 bells, and here’s the incredible part: it’s the only carillon in Austria with a range spanning four octaves. When these bells chime, prepare to be mesmerized as they send shivers down your spine and evoke a mix of reverence and nostalgia.

So, when is the best time to experience the enchanting chimes? Make sure to be sure to go near or in front of Innsbruck Cathedral around five to ten minutes after twelve noon, and you’ll have the pleasure of hearing the complete chants of the bells ringing.

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Is Innsbruck Cathedral Worth Seeing?

So those are the beautiful things and experiences you can have in visiting Innsbruck Cathedral. To summarize them all is simply to answer the question, is Innsbruck Cathedral worth your time?

Innsbruck Cathedral is a must-visit attraction for travelers in Innsbruck, thanks to its regional precious treasures such as the tomb of Maximilian III, Maria Hifl, and the masterpieces created by the Asam brothers. What sets it apart is the perfect fusion of artistic splendor, cultural heritage, and spiritual significance it embodies, making it an unmissable landmark in Innsbruck. 

In the picturesque city of Innsbruck, there are numerous places and attractions that you must explore to truly capture the essence of this beautiful destination.

In addition to Innsbruck Cathedral and Hofkirche, which are definitely worth a visit, these other places also offer breathtaking views where you can create unforgettable moments in the stunning alpine region of Austria. To learn more about these remarkable sites, you can refer to the following articles.

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Innsbruck Cathedral Visitor Information

Do you want to visit Innsbruck Cathedral? Here is the summary of the church’s visiting hours from their website (in German) linked in the resources section of this post. 

The cathedral’s regular opening hours are from 08:45 AM to 06:30 PM daily. However, during the period from May 2nd to October 26th, the cathedral extends its opening time until 07:30 PM. 

Please note that due to ongoing worship services, guided tours and visits are typically available at specific times. So, from Monday to Saturday, visits can commence from 10:15 AM, while on Sundays and holidays, visits start from 12:30 PM.

For worship services, the schedule is as follows: On Sundays and holidays, Holy Mass is celebrated at 10:00 AM and 11:30 AM. On weekdays, the day starts with the recitation of the Rosary at 08:55 AM, followed by Holy Mass at 09:30 AM. 

The Lower Church and Crypt are accessible on most weekdays. From Monday to Friday, they are open from 10:15 AM to 04:45 PM, and on Saturdays, they are open from 10:15 AM to 12:00 PM.

Please do keep in mind that opening hours may vary during holidays, so it’s advisable to check beforehand.

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.

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Resources: Innsbruck Cathedral

For more information about Innsbruck Cathedral, you may refer to the links below. 

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.

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