City Archives




Archaeological excavations and finds show that the Innsbruck area has been a place of human settlement since the Stone Age. Around 15 B.C. a Roman fortress by the name of Veldidena stood where the road from the south over the Brenner reached the River Inn and branched east and west (now the Innsbruck suburb of Wilten). In the Roman period, the Central Alps and Alpine foothills were combined to form the Province of Raetia.

The Innsbruck basin, which is where most of the roads from Germany converge from the north before continuing south over the Brenner as the lowest pass on the main Alpine chain, has always benefitted from its location on main traffic routes; Innsbruck forms a hub of communications from north to south and from east to west, a fact that is now considered a mixed blessing in view of today’s problems with traffic in transit over the Alps.

The history of Innsbruck becomes more concrete around 1133, when the Bavarian Counts of Andechs established a market on the north bank of the Inn (now the suburb of St Nikolaus). In 1180 Berthold V of Andechs, Margrave of Istria, acquired a plot of land from Wilten Monastery on the south bank of the river and had another market and commercial centre built complete with moat and city wall, which is now Innsbruck’s Old Town. Between 1187 and 1204, a city charter was granted and various rights conferred on the city.

1281 saw the next stage in the development of the city with the construction of the New Town (now Maria-Theresien-Strasse). In 1363 Innsbruck, together with the County of Tyrol, passed to the Dukes of Austria. Duke Friedrich IV chose Innsbruck for his court in 1420. That marked the beginning of Innsbruck’s heyday, which climaxed under Emperor Maximilian I (1459 - 1519).

Innsbruck’s hallmark, the world-famous Golden Roof in the Old Town, is a reminder of the times of Emperor Maximilian I. He had close ties with the city that was then the main imperial residence and from where history was made; in those days Innsbruck was the focal point of Europe. Innsbruck’s European standing and also its rise to prominence in the world of music from the 15th to the 18th century are still reflected in the city’s cultural life and architecture. Today, Innsbruck is an international centre of Early Music.

Emperor Maximilian I reigned at a historical turning point; he was the last of the knights and the first ruler in a new age. He was also the first of the Habsburgs to shift the dynasty’s focus from central to western Europe. His first marriage, to Mary of Burgundy, brought with it the territories of what is now Belgium and the Netherlands as well as parts of northern France – and also French enmity. His second marriage, to Bianca Maria Sforza, opened the gates to Italy. Through Maximilian’s marriage policy, the Spanish succession finally passed to the House of Habsburg. “Tyrol is a rough peasant smock, but it warms well.” That is what Emperor Maximilian liked to say about his favourite possession, the Tyrol. When Maximilian received the title to the Tyrol from his uncle Archduke Sigismund in 1490, he made it the base for his political and military plans and the centre of his Italian policy. The silver and copper mines in Schwaz were a source of wealth; the mint in Hall brought in money, and local gun foundries and armouries held promise of military advantage. The Tyrol also offered the passionate hunter fishing and hunting to his heart’s content.

In order to guarantee the independence of the Tyroleans, Emperor Maximilian issued a national defence proclamation called the “Landlibell” in 1511, granting his subjects exemption from military service except for the defence of the Tyrol’s own borders. Accordingly, the Tyrolean did not fight in the Habsburg’s various other wars.

From 1806 to 1814 the Tyrol was part of Bavaria, and Bergisel near Innsbruck the setting for a fight for freedom for the Tyrol under the leadership of local hero Andreas Hofer, an innkeeper from the Passeier Valley (1767 1810). In 1849 Innsbruck replaced Meran as the capital of the Tyrol.

From 1938 to 1945, Germany’s National Socialists incorporated Austria and thus Innsbruck into the Third Reich. In the last two years of the war, Innsbruck suffered considerable damage in 22 bomb attacks.

In the post-war years, tourism and the economy flourished and reconstruction made rapid progress. Innsbruck became an international centre of winter sports (Winter Olympics 1964 and 1976) and is currently enjoying a renaissance as a city of culture, too.


The name Innsbruck (earliest written record – spelled “Inspruk" – dated 1167) means the “bridge over the Inn”. The bridge was built in the middle of the 12th century and subsequently became the heraldic symbol in the city’s seal and coat of arms, as it still is today.


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Further information

Landeshauptstadt Innsbruck
A-6020 Innsbruck
Maria-Theresien-Straße 18

Opening hours Bürgerservice
Monday - Thursday 07.30 - 17.30
Friday 07.30 - 12.00