Although still standing on the site of the original medieval castle, which was in place by 1463, today’s majestic Imperial Habsburg Palace has undergone several transformations over the centuries, reflecting Innsbruck’s own political fortunes. The first Gothic castle was extended by Emperor Maximilian I between 1495 and 1519, and was subsequently given a Renaissance makeover in the 1560s. With the transition of political power to Vienna after the Thirty Years War, Innsbruck and the Hofburg lost importance; it was not until the 1750s that Empress Maria Theresa revived the fortunes of this great palace and gave it a glorious Baroque and Rococo facelift.
The palace offers a series of 25 ornate Imperial Apartments open to the public, from the Guard Room and the Giant’s Hall, both smothered with great paintings depicting the history of the Habsburgs, to the Furniture Gallery with its elegant examples of Biedermeier styling. The series of beautifully furnished and decorated private apartments are Rococo confections in blues, pinks and greens, complete with gilded clocks, four-poster beds and richly upholstered sofas. They are laid out as they were when occupied by the Imperial Family during the 17th and 18th centuries.
A branch of the extraordinarily expensive Café Sacher is also found in the Hofburg; head there for coffee and Austria’s most acclaimed Sachertorte after viewing the Imperial Apartments.
The Hofburg stands opposite the Hofkirche (Court Church) in Innsbruck’s Altstadt (Old Town). The palace is accessible on foot just a few minutes’ walk from Innsbruck’s main parking garages; or by bus line F to Congress. The Sightseer tourist bus also stops at Congress and Hofburg.
The Imperial Apartments are open daily, with late-night opening until 7pm on Wednesday. Multi-language audio guides are available and family tickets are offered on Sunday. Entry is free with the Innsbruck Card, which gives access to several Innsbruck museums and galleries.