Top choice in Innsbruck

Innsbruck’s pride and joy is the Gothic Hofkirche, one of Europe’s finest royal court churches. It was commissioned in 1553 by Ferdinand I, who enlisted top artists of the age such as Albrecht Dürer, Alexander Colin and Peter Vischer the Elder. Top billing goes to the empty sarcophagus of Emperor Maximilian I (1459–1519), a masterpiece of German Renaissance sculpture, elaborately carved from black marble.

The tomb is embellished with Alexander Colins’ white marble reliefs based on Dürer’s Ehrenpforte (Triumphal Arch) woodcuts, depicting victorious scenes from Maximilian’s life such as the Siege of Kufstein (1504). The twin rows of 28 giant bronze figures that guard the sarcophagus include Dürer’s legendary King Arthur, who was apparently Emperor Maximilian’s biggest idol. You’re now forbidden to touch the statues, but numerous inquisitive hands have already polished parts of the dull bronze, including Kaiser Rudolf’s codpiece!

Andreas Hofer (1767–1810), the Tyrolean patriot who led the rebellion against Napoleon’s forces, is entombed in the church. In the Silberkapelle, a dazzling silver Madonna keeps watch over the marble tomb of Archduke Ferdinand II and his first wife, Philippine Welser.