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Austria: Innsbruck, Salzburg, Vienna, Werfen
Innsbruck, Austria: Alpine beauty
by Prakash Bang, Editor in Chief
Sandwiched between the German and the Italian borders, on the western side of Austria is Innsbruck. It is Europe’s oldest and a beautiful city in the State of Tyrol. Capital of its State, the city enjoys a true Alpine landscape and snowcapped mountains. Little wonder it attracts thousands of visitors and has played host to Winter Olympics.
We drove to Innsbruck from Salzburg and checked in at Hotel Innsbruck at about 8PM. The hotel is located on Innsrain Street, one of the main roads of Innsbruck running parallel to River Inn. The location of the hotel is just ideal from a tourist perspective. Just behind the hotel is the Old Town and in front runs the Inn.
We would be in Innsbruck for 2 nights. We had on hand about a day and a half, though not entirely to explore Innsbruck. The next morning we had kept aside to visit the famous Swarovski – makers of crystals and drive further up to Vaduz, the capital city of Liechtenstein. That would leave with us a night and the morning to experience Innsbruck.
Just a 15 minute drive brought us to Wattens – home of Swarovski. There’s an entrance fee of Euro 8 per person to visit the Crystal World. There’s a man-made hill in shape of an enormous face from the mouth of which spouts a waterfall. Situated beneath the hill is the Swarovski Crystal World - a magnificent place with 7 linked halls. It is designed in the honour of Daniel Swarovski, founder of the biggest producer of crystal. The Crystal World is the art of Andrew Heller and was opened in 1995. Since then it has been a major attraction for hundreds of thousands of people.
Like us, every visitor will be mesmerized by the exhibits places in the halls, namely, Mechanical Theatre; Crystal Dome; Crystal Oscope; Silent Light; Crystal Theatre; Crystal Calligraphy; Ice Passage; Reflections and Crystal Forest. The entrance itself leads to a crystal wall, made of 12 tons of perfect crystals in the world. You will see works of art of famous artists including Andy Warhol to Salvador Dali.
And of course the trip to Crystal World terminates in their shop. It will surprise me if you would go out without spending some money. By the way, all shoppers get a refund of Euro 2 per ticket!
We returned from Vaduz at 8PM. We had stuffed ourselves on the motorway just before entering Innsbruck. After freshening up a bit, we walked the Herzog-Friedrich Street that was just behind the hotel. The street was full of life with tourists enjoying their drinks and meals in front of the many restaurants. We did some window shopping intrigued by Austrian souvenirs. After walking around for an hour or so, we decided to call it a day.
Tomorrow morning we would walk the Old Town to make the best of the time we had on hand. That night, though we were in our beds, the music from the streets kept us awake till about midnight. No complaints though.
I had to return the car I hired in Innsbruck by 10AM. After breakfast at 8AM, we decided to walk to the railway station to buy our tickets to Vienna – our next destination. The walk gave us the opportunity to explore the Old Town and its neighbourhood.
In the charming Old Town one will find maybe Innsbruck's greatest tourist attraction and certainly it’s most characteristic landmark - a classic Austrian hybrid of Gothic and Baroque - The Golden Roof. It was constructed by Archduke Friedrich IV in the fifteenth century as the residence of the Tyrolean sovereigns. It is actually a 3-story balcony on the central square of the Old Town. Capped with 2,738 gold plated copper tiles, it was constructed for Emperor Maximilian I to serve as a luxury royal box where he could enjoy tournaments in the square below. Completed at the beginning of the sixteenth century, the roof was erected in honour of Emperor’s second marriage - to Bianca Maria Sforza of Milan.
The Old Town of the city is a compact area of medieval buildings, many of them attractively painted in pastel colors and supported by sloping earthquake buttresses. The main street of the Old Town is the broad strip of Herzog-Friedrich-Strasse, which opens out into a central plaza lined with arcades. There is a labyrinth of alleyways, which attracts one to take an aimless walk. The City Tower was built between 1442 and 1450. In the good old days it also served as a prison. Today, visitors can climb atop for a small fee and view the city from the top. Though I was tempted to go up, the time on hand didn’t allow me to do so.
The Landes Theater Innsbruck was built in the year 1629 by architect Christoph Gumpp. He was inspired by the Italian theaters in Firenze and Parma. The building was opened as “Comedihaus”.
We were lucky that during our visit, an exhibit ‘Postcard from Harrogate’ was on. The main feature of the exhibit is a ‘living photo frame’ inspired by a public garden in Innsbruck. The idea is that people can step into the frame and be ‘pictured’ in one of Harrogate’s famous gardens. The picture frame is 2.4 metres high and 3 metres wide and uses wood which is sustainable and durable. The painted finish of the frame is muted silver intended to replicate the colour of the Innsbruck frame.
We walked all the way to the end of Museum Strasse. A right turn got us to the railway station. We bought the tickets and booked our seats on a train that would depart at 01:15. There was still time on hand to walk back to the hotel. Thereafter, I took the car and dropped at the Europcar depot just opposite the airport. I took a cab back that cost me Euro 12 and about 15 minutes.
Before packing up to the station, I once again went to Old Town as I had a band playing. Out there, a band in traditional attire was entertaining the passersby. I was also lucky to witness a wedding. The family was kind enough to pose for me.
We took a cab and reached the station in about 10 minutes. As luck would have it, our reserved coach was at the far end of the platform. A good run along with our bags made us pant. Well, the 5-hour comfortable journey to Vienna put us back in shape.
Innsbruck Image Gallery Photo viewer
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