When we arrived in Innsbruck, we didn’t really have any plans, so we wandered around Old Town until we got hungry. After we had a bite to eat, we started looking for things to do. We first stopped at the Hofburg Imperial Palace, but they were closed for the day, so then we wandered over to the adjacent Hofkirche (Court Church) to check out the imperial tomb of Emperor Maximilian I.
The outside of the church really isn’t much to speak of, except for the beautiful front entrance. The church had placed a sign in front of those lovely wooden doors directing people to the visitors entrance, but it was really detracting from my photo. I asked Cory to grab it and move it out of the frame for a few seconds so I could get the photo I wanted, and what does he do? He picks it up while someone is reading it and hides behind one of the columns with it. I was silent laughing so hard that tears were coming out, but hey, I got my photo!
After purchasing our tickets (€5 for adults, no charge for children), we entered the church courtyard where pristine hedges and greenery line the paths leading to the fountain at the courtyard’s center. Tangled vines cover nearly every inch of the arches lining the interior walkway. (If these are blooming vines, they’ll be beautiful in the spring!) The gardens are lovely, but the real beauty is inside the Hofkirche.
Before we came to Innsbruck, I didn’t have a clue who Emperor Maximilian I was, but after seeing his palace, his museum, and now his memorial, I feel like we’re good friends. The hotel we stayed in was even named after him. Clearly, this guy was important.
The Hofkirche in Innsbruck was built for Emperor Maximilian I by his grandson after his death. His tomb in the center is actually empty – he preferred his body to be buried in Vienna, but it proved too difficult to build a large memorial for him there, so the Hofkirche was constructed in his honor in Innsbruck. His tomb is surrounded by 28 large bronze statues representing his ancestors and heroes. Even though they’re known as the Black Men, both males and females are presented here. The cenotaph itself is decorated with marble reliefs of scenes from Emperor Maximilian’s life. Even more statues line the gallery wall above, beneath Jesus on the cross. Throw in a gorgeous vaulted ceiling, red marble columns, and a 450-year-old organ, and it all seems like a lot for an empty tomb, doesn’t it? Guess that’s royalty for you.
After we finished wandering around the tomb, we headed upstairs to see a second chapel. This one was more colorful than the one below, and I loved it until I realized the pattern on the walls and ceiling was actually made up of faces, lots of them. Hundreds of little eyes were following our every move inside the chapel. It’s just a little too creepy, in my opinion.
My favorite experience while in the Hofkirche occurred while I was admiring the statues around the tomb. I was taking photos of a particularly cocky-looking bloke when a man approached me, speaking in German. He was laughing and gesturing towards the statue I was photographing, so I could guess what he was saying, but I didn’t want to smile and laugh for fear he’d assume that I actually spoke German, so instead I awkwardly interjected and asked if he spoke English. He graciously switched to English and asked me where I was from, which is always a difficult question to answer when you’re a traveling expat. This spurred a half-hour conversation about traveling, Austria, Germany, and Black Forest cake. (My new friend was from Black Forest, Germany – I never knew that was where the cake came from!) I enjoyed talking with him and his traveling partner so much that I almost asked them to join us for dinner, but I didn’t want to put them in the awkward position of having to come up with an excuse to get out of dining with the overly friendly American, so I held my tongue.
I love meeting new people while traveling. Locals, other travelers, it doesn’t matter – they all have interesting stories to share. (Fellow travelers are the few people I can tell my own travel stories to without worrying that their eyes will begin to glaze over out of boredom!) Even without the fun encounter with the German travelers, visiting the Hofkirche was one of my favorite things we did in Innsbruck. It was fairly cheap to get into, not the least bit crowded, and they allow photography. All super important things in my opinion!
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