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Altstadt Innsbruck  | © Innsbruck Tourismus / Mario Webhofer

Innsbruck and its history

Of Roman crossings and heroic deeds.

Innsbruck owes its formidable historical heritage to its geographical location at the heart of the Alps, north of the Brenner Pass and right on the Inn river. For centuries, the mountains were an unsurmountable and treacherous obstacle, but crossing them was nevertheless the only way to conquer neighbouring areas and conduct trade. There is plenty of evidence that the Romans used the Brenner Pass and the Reschen Pass to travel from the south to the north. Their paths continued along the Inn, giving the city its strategically important position. The precious goods carried northwards across the Alps was then loaded on ships east of Innsbruck.

Regency of the Habsburgs

From the 14th century onward, the Habsburg monarchy made its marks on the residential town of Innsbruck. The buildings constructed during their regency are some of the city’s most splendid sights to this day: the Golden Roof, the Imperial Court Church and the Triumphal Arch. Emperor Maximilian I (1459–1519) shaped the city like none other: the ‘last knight’ and ‘first European’ straddled the Middle ages and the modern era, during which the Habsburg monarchy saw its greatest expansion.

Tirolean fight for freedom

Andreas Hofer, leading his civilian army into battle against the Napoleonic troops, also contributed to Innsbruck’s fame in the world – and its many charming features, big and small, continue to grow its renown to the present day.

Milestones in the history of Innsbruck

1180  |  Innsbruck was first mentioned in a charter as a settlement

1363  |  The Habsburg monarchy acquired the strategically significant county of Tirol

1420  |  Innsbruck became a royal residence as Frederick IV, Duke of Austria, moved the government seat of the Princely County of Tirol from Merano to the Inn river

1490  |  Maximilian I. (1459–1519) succeeds his predecessor Sigismund, Archduke of Austria

1508  |  Maximilian I proclaimed himself elected emperor at Trento

1582  |  Today’s Dogana opened during the reign of Ferdinand II

1669  |  Foundation of Innsbruck University

1809  |  Andreas Hofer led his army into the Battles of Bergisel against the Napoleonic troops

1849  |  Innsbruck became the official state capital of Tirol

1892  |  Innsbruck’s first trade fair hall was built

1923  |  The first Tirolean autumn fair (Tiroler Herbstmesse) took place – the event is held annually to this day

1948  |  Reopening of Innsbruck Airport

1953  |  The first Four Hills Tournament was held

1964  |  Innsbruck hosted the IX Winter Olympics

1976  |  Innsbruck hosted the XII Winter Olympics

1973  |  Opening of Congress Innsbruck

1983  |  Austria’s first heart transplantation was performed in Innsbruck

2003/2007  |  Celebrity architect Dame Zaha Mohammad Hadid designed the Hungerburgbahn cable car & the Bergisel Ski Jump, making a mark on Innsbruck’s urban flair

2011  |  Messe Innsbruck is officially opened after extension and conversion work

2012  |  Innsbruck hosted the Winter Youth Olympics

2018  |  Innsbruck hosted the UCI Road World Championships

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