With the Alps packed with famous names, the less historically and geographically aware may be forgiven for thinking Innsbruck is just another internationally famous Alpine ski village rather than what it actually is – a bustling university city of over one hundred thousand inhabitants, with an illustrious 800 year history as a key European crossroads (it was held in high esteem by the Romans more than a millenium earlier, thanks to its key location).
Today Innsbruck attracts more North American winter visitors than any other European ski destination. Undoubtedly, some are drawn by the renown created by two modern Winter Olympics in 1964 and 1976, an achievement which is perpetuated today in the form of a very efficient infrastructure for winter sports fans. Other visitors are attracted by the historical environment of the Old Town with the famous Golden Roof as focal point. Evidence of Innsbruck’s heritage of two “golden ages” can still be found around every corner: this is the city beloved by the Habsburg dynasty, who made it their Royal seat. The first great period in its history dates from around 1500 under the Emperor Maximilian I, the second in the mid-1700s under Empress Maria Therèsia.
Overall, the city’s location, nestled into a narrow valley right beneath rugged mountain peaks, together with its old world atmosphere, historic churches and buildings, interesting monuments, rich museums and galleries, and active commerce, all combine into an interesting sports-plus-culture attraction. It simply makes an excellent destination for those who seek a broader European experience than simply skiing, or for families where some members are less assiduous skiers.