Innsbruck

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Innsbruck is the capital city of the federal state of Tyrol in western Austria. It is located in the Inn Valley at the junction with the Wipptal (Sill River), which provides access to the Brenner Pass, some 30 km (18.64 mi) south of Innsbruck. Located in the broad valley between high mountains, the Nordkette (Hafelekar, 2,334 metres (7,657 ft) in the north, Patscherkofel (2,246 metres (7,369 ft)) and Serles (2,718 metres (8,917 ft)) in the south, it is an internationally renowned winter sports centre, and hosted the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics and the 1984 and 1988 Winter Paralympics. It is to host the 1st Winter Youth Olympics in 2012. The word bruck comes from the German word Brücke meaning "bridge" which leads to "the bridge over the Inn".

Covered pedestrian bridge over The Inn River.
Earliest traces suggest initial inhabitation in the early Stone Age. Surviving pre-Roman place names show that the area has been populated continuously. In the fourth century the Romans established the army station Veldidena (the name survives in today's urban district Wilten) at Oenipons (Innsbruck), to protect the economically important commercial road from Verona-Brenner-Augsburg.

The first mention of Innsbruck dates back to the name Oeni Pontum or Oeni Pons which is Latin for bridge (pons) over the Inn (Oenus), which was an important crossing point over the river Inn. The city's seal and coat of arms show a bird's-eye view of the Inn bridge, a design used since 1267. The route over the Brenner Pass was then a major transport and communications link between the north and the south, and the easiest route across the Alps. The revenues generated by serving as a transit station enabled the city to flourish.

Innsbruck became the capital of all Tyrol in 1429 and in the fifteenth century the city became a centre of European politics and culture as emperor Maximilian I also resided in Innsbruck in the 1490s. The city benefited from the emperor's presence as can be seen for example in the so called Hofkirche. Here a funeral monument for Maximilian was planned and erected partly by his successors. The ensemble with a cenotaph and the bronze statutes of real and mythical ancestors of the Habsburgian emperor are one of the main artistic monuments of Innsbruck.

In 1564 Ferdinand II, Archduke of Austria received the rulership over Tirol and other Further Austrian possessions administrated from Innsbruck up to the 18th century. He had Schloss Ambras built and arranged there his unique Renaissance collections nowadays mainly part of Vienna's Kunsthistorisches Museum. Up to 1665 a stirps of the Habsburgian dynasty ruled in Innsbruck with an independent court. In the 1620s the first opera house north of the Alps was erected in Innsbruck (Dogana).

In 1669 the university was founded. Also as a compensation for the court as emperor Leopold I again reigned from Vienna and the Tyrolean stirps of the Habsburg dynasty had ended in 1665.

During the Napoleonic wars Tyrol was ceded to Bavaria, ally of France. Andreas Hofer led a Tyrolean peasant army to victory on the Berg Isel against the combined Bavarian and French forces, and then made Innsbruck the centre of his administration. The combined army later overran the Tyrolean militia army and until 1814 Innsbruck was part of Bavaria. After the Vienna Congress Austrian rule was restored. The Tyrolean hero Andreas Hofer was executed in Mantua; his remains were returned to Innsbruck in 1823 and interred in the Franciscan church.


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