Mountains music and magical crystals in Innsbruck
Summer has arrived in Austria and what better city to spend it in than Innsbruck, capital of the Alps. From the majestic mountains towering over the beautiful Old Town to the surrounding villages with their age-old traditions, Innsbruck offers its visitors the best mix of culture and outdoor activities in breathtaking surroundings. Whether arriving by plane, train or highway, the mountains are ever present and equally impressive. What’s more is that you don’t have to leave the city to make your way to the top of one of them. Three short cable car trips take you to 2 256 metres above sea level. The vistas from this vantage point, with Italy to the south and Germany to the north, is unforgettable. If you’re lucky, you might even encounter snow on the peaks. Yes, even in summer! Get off at the Alpenzoo-station on your way down and visit Europe’s highest-elevation zoo. It’s home to the world’s most complete collection of alpine animals, including the brown bear and the European wildcat. Back in the city, the cobbled streets lined with medieval houses in the beautiful Old Town lead to the famous Golden Roof, Innsbruck’s most photographed building. This third-story balcony, capped with 2 657 gold-plated copper tiles, was built in the early 15th century as a royal box for Emperor Maximilian I from where he watched a variety of performances and tournaments in the square below. You too can watch a courtly performance. Maximilian and his two wives, Mary of Burgundy and Bianca Maria Sforza, returns to the Golden Roof on three occasions every August. From minstrels and musicians to acrobats and jesters entertain the crowds. Even armoured knights are present to stand guard. The spectacle is free of charge to the public. Innsbruck loves entertaining its visitors. Every year in July the city invites a host of military and police orchestras, civilian marching bands, brass ensembles, wind bands as well as a Big Band to play in the Innsbruck Promenade Concerts. There is a free concert every day for 29 days in the court of the Imperial Palace. If your soul has been revived by the beautiful music, why not get some retail therapy in the many brand name shops in Maria-Theresien Street. For a more unique shopping experience, head out to the Swarovski Crystal Worlds in a town called Wattens, approximately 10 km from Innsbruck. Few people know that this is where the world famous crystal products come from. Let yourself be blown away by more than 800 000 hand-mounted crystals in the brand new Crystal Cloud in the Swarovski garden. With a surface of approximately 1 400 square metres, this beautiful artwork is the largest of its kind in the world. Inside the Swarovski Crystal Worlds are 16 Chambers of Wonder to further fill you with awe. If your cultural thirst is quenched, why not get active and choose a mountain trail to explore nature. There is a traditional mountain hut restaurant along many trails, where the best local food and beer is to be had while enjoying panoramic views.
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