Ambras Castle

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Ambras Castle in summer 2019

The Ambras Castle is a large castle grounds at today's southeastern outskirts of the Tyrolean capital Innsbruck in the district of Amras , one to the incorporation in 1938 independent village. The castle includes the so-called Ambras Upper Castle, the Ambras Lower Castle, the Spanish Hall and the administration building. The property is located at an altitude of 635 meters in the middle of an extensive castle park, in which there are cultural and historical monuments.

The building complex is managed by the Burghauptmannschaft Austria , the Ambras Castle Park by the Austrian Federal Gardens. The Schloss Ambras Innsbruck Art Museum is located inside the Upper and Lower Castle . Ambras Castle is one of Tyrol's most important and most visited tourist attractions and one of the most important sights in Austria.


Ambras was the castle of the Counts of Dießen-Andechs , whose ancestors resided there ad umbras (in the shady area) as early as the 10th century (documented sources for the 11th century). In 1133 the castle was destroyed by Heinrich the Proud . It was rebuilt after 150 years. The last Andechs, Duke Otto VIII of Meranien, was with Elisabeth, daughter of Count Albert III. from Tyrol, married; after Otto's death in 1248 Albert inherited his dominion. Albert died in 1253, and now Ambras fell to Elisabeth's second husband, Gebhard IV von Hirschberg . Elisabeth died in 1256 without children; so the husband of the other Albert daughter, Adelheid, inherited Meinhard I. from Görz, Ambras and the emerging state of Tyrol.

Ambras remained a sovereign complex. Together with the neighboring Strasbourg Castle - at the time the more important one, there was a governor sitting there - it controlled the paths between Innsbruck, the Inn Bridge near Hall, the low mountain range plateau and the lower Sill valley.

After the death of the last woman from Gorizia, Margarete von Tirol , the castle fell to the Habsburgs in 1363 . Emperor Maximilian I used it as a hunting lodge.

During the Renaissance , the medieval castle was expanded by Archduke Ferdinand II (1529–1595). He transformed Ambras into a splendid palace and gave it to his secretly married middle-class wife, Philippine Welser .

When Tyrol was no longer the seat of a sovereign after 1665 and was largely withdrawn from courtly representation, the castle served various purposes such as a troop quarters and a military hospital until the middle of the 19th century. Most recently it was barracks until 1842, before the castle was rebuilt for residential purposes in the 19th century under the governor of Tyrol from 1855–1861, Archduke Karl Ludwig .

The Museum kk Ambras Collections was opened in 1880.

After 1913, Ambras Palace was to become the summer residence of Archduke Franz Ferdinand's family . But he was murdered in 1914. After the abolition of the monarchy, Ambras fell to the Republic of Austria in 1919 with the Habsburg Law .

The museum was reopened in 1922 after the renovations begun in 1913 had to be stopped due to the outbreak of the First World War in 1914.

After the museum was closed due to World War II, it reopened after 1948.

The silver euro commemorative coin from Austria from 2002

The first silver euro commemorative coin in Austria shows Ambras Castle.

Construction site

Ambras Castle on an engraving by Matthäus Merian (mid-17th century)

Building history

Nothing remains of the original castle of Count Andechs in the current building stock, as it was destroyed in 1133. The keep , palas and the foundation walls of the chapel date from the 13th and 14th centuries, when Ambras was owned by the Gorizia.

The cross vault of the palace goes back to Sigmund the rich in coins .

The change to a renaissance castle took place through the renovations by Archduke Ferdinand II (1529–1595), who acquired the castle in June 1564 for 15,300 gulden. The builders were Giovanni and his son Alberto Luchese , based on plans by the architect Giovanni Battista Guarienti (Johann Guarient; or Quarient ), with Ferdinand II demonstrably having a say in the development of the building in the planning stage. At the same time, the Spanish Hall was built and the construction of the "Lower Castle" began, an irregular, pentagon-shaped, independent complex that was opened in the east to accommodate the library and the museum. At that time it was one of the earliest explicit museum buildings ever and is the only one still preserved from the Renaissance in which the collections are still on display. The “Ballspielhaus”, the “Official House” and the “Castle Keeper's House” were also built.

  • 1564–1567 Reconstruction of the high castle and expansion of the western castle (with kitchen and dining room)
  • 1569–1571 Spanish Hall
  • 1570–1572 "Kornschütt" with library, antiquarium and hunting armory
  • 1572–1583 “Chamber of Art and Wonder” and three armories
  • 1589 Subsequent addition of the "hero armor chamber" (dismantled in 1881)
Historical photo of Ambras Castle from the late 19th century.

In the 19th century, Ambras was rebuilt for residential purposes by architect Ludwig Förster and later his son Heinrich under the governor of Tyrol (1855–1861), Archduke Karl Ludwig .

  • 1855–1858 neo-Gothic additions:
    • Heightened fourth floor of the keep with a crowning turret
    • Stair tower on the south front
    • Balconies on the north and west facade
    • New gate wing
    • New facade on the west side of the Spanish Hall in the form of a stepped gable
    • Bathhouse in the Keuchengarten (no longer preserved)
  • 1863–1867 St. Nicholas Chapel designed by August Wörndle in neo-Gothic style
  • 1860 romantic access ramp leading to the high castle

Some dilapidated buildings had to be demolished, around 1880/81 the hero's armory and the ball game house as well as the summer house in the Keuchengarten. The pre-lock threatened to slide off, which is why it was dismantled around the floor of the dining area.

The conversion into a museum was carried out from 1877 by Johann Deininger

  • New facade for the Spanish Hall in the form of a cornice with a horizontal structure
  • Stair tower on the south front

The kk Anbraser Collections Museum was opened in 1880. In the 20th century, attempts were made to reverse the neo-Gothic additions under Archduke Karl Ludwig in order to come close to a sight known from the earliest engraving by Matthäus Merian from 1649 . As early as 1913, the fourth floor of the keep and the corridor in the inner courtyard disappeared again by the Viennese cathedral builder Ludwig Simon.

In 1997, a new entrance area for the Spanish Hall was created with the peasant armory in the basement. A stepped terrace porch disturbs the western front of the Spanish Hall postmodern.

In 2017, with the “Ferdinand Café & Bistro Schloss Ambras”, a new gastronomy was created by the KHM Museum Association in the historic rooms of the “Gothic Kitchen” in the Hochschloss. The adaptation was carried out by the architect Christian Knapp of the architects Kohlmayr, Lutter, Knapp - winner of the American Architecture Prize 2017 in the two categories of restoration and interior design.


The grisaille paintings on the north side of the courtyard in the high castle of Ambras Castle.

The inner courtyard of the high castle was decorated with al fresco grisaille painting when Archduke Ferdinand II was redesigning it into a Renaissance castle . In the middle of the 19th century, as a result of the renovations by the architect Ludwig Förster , glazed walkways were to be built in the inner courtyard to make the rooms on the first and second floors easier to walk on. The plans were only carried out on the second floor, with a loggia from the Ferdinandean period being removed. In the course of the dismantling of the castle from 1913 this corridor was removed again. The last major restoration of the courtyard took place in 1984–1991.

Ambras Castle Park

Ambras Castle Park

The Ambras Castle Park surrounds the castle above the Amras district . Immediately after the main entrance you can see the Great Pond . The area surrounded by a wall is largely laid out as an English landscape park. The Bacchus Grotto, the Keuchengarten (panting = prison) and the artificial waterfall, which is fed by a branch of the Aldranser Bach, are worth seeing. At the northern entrance to the park are the remains of the church tower of the former St. George's Church. The park has been owned by the Republic of Austria since 1928 and is administered by the federal gardens. The facility has been a listed building since 2007. Essentially, the Ambras Castle Park has been divided into three parts around the centrally located Renaissance castle over the centuries: the wildlife park to the east of the castle, the scenic part of the park on the west and north side and the Keuchengarten as a Renaissance garden on the south side.

History of the Ambras Castle Park

Archduke Ferdinand II had the castle park designed from 1567 when Ambras Castle was converted into a splendid Renaissance castle. In 1574, Stephanus Venandus Pighius documented forests, fish ponds, game reserves , vineyards, gardens and summer houses in a detailed description . Today's wildlife park with mixed deciduous forest, rocks, gorges, paths, bridges and an artificial waterfall goes back to this design phase. Pleasure gardens were designed to the west and south of the high palace. These garden areas were not preserved after the Archduke's death in 1595: they were used for agriculture. The rock cellar, the Bacchus grotto and some other garden buildings remained.

Archduke Karl Ludwig had the summer residence expanded as Tyrolean governor from 1855. The northern and western parts were designed as a landscape garden. Solitary trees and groups of trees were planted in the park, and a large pond was created in the lower area.

In the second half of the 20th century, the park underwent some changes: the construction of the motorway required a reduction in area on the north side. The area of ​​the Keuchengarten, some of the courtyards that were formerly not greened and the access from the west gate were redesigned according to the taste of the 1970s. A playground was built in the wildlife park.

Cultural monuments of the Ambras Castle Park

Bacchus grotto

The grotto, supported by a strong pillar and four belt arches, originally called the "rock cellar", was built in the park of Ambras Castle on behalf of Archduke Ferdinand II . A cellar building, which can be seen in the engraving from 1649 by Matthäus Merian , was demolished in 1882. In 1574, the Bacchus Grotto is described for the first time in Stephanus Pighius' travel report in connection with the reception ceremony for the princely guests. The highlight of this ritual was the “drinking test”: “Hidden chains and bars” were held by the guests who could only free themselves by drinking a wine-filled vessel, the “welcome”. That is why the grotto was named "Bacchus Grotto" after the Roman god of wine. After passing the drinking test, the guests signed a motto in one of the three drinking books that are still in the collections of Schloss Ambras Innsbruck. They contain autographs of important personalities of the time. The drinking glasses used for the rite have also been preserved to this day. The “hidden chains and bars” are likely to have been the incomparable art chamber piece of the Ambras drinking chair, decorated on the back using iron-cut technique with grotesque floral ornamentation and hunting motifs: a chair made of iron, which hinges on the front and back is collapsible. Anyone who sat on the chair was held by a highly complex hidden mechanism with gripping arms by the shoulders and limbs. The Ambras fishing chair is now a highlight of Archduke Ferdinand II's chamber of art and curiosities, where, according to an entry in the estate inventory from 1596, it was originally in the seventh box.

Since the beginning of the 16th century, based on Italy, artificial grottos were created in gardens and castles based on ancient models throughout Europe. The Roman nymphaea of the 2nd and 3rd centuries served as models . This was understood to mean wells and caves that were dedicated to the nymphs, female nature spirits.

Panting garden

South of the high palace, in front of the Spanish Hall, is the so-called Keuchengarten. The linguistic origin of Keuchen (mhd., "Prison") is likely to go back to the medieval, trapezoidal three-storey "prison tower" in the southeast corner, which was completely included in the new building when it was converted into a renaissance castle around 1563. The Keuchengarten is on a recessed terrace level and thus in clear contrast to the level of the lower castle and its forecourt area, which has only been greened since the second half of the 20th century. During the reign of Archduke Ferdinand II, a garden area was laid out in the center of the Keuchengarten, divided into nine compartments, with a round pavilion with columns and an onion roof in the center. In the southeast was the so-called "summer house", a rotunda where water jokes could be experienced: a maple table that could be made to turn by water-powered wheels and where the guests could be splashed with water. The summer house has not been preserved, nor has the ball game house that borders the Keuchgarten to the east. Today there is still a hexagonal, brick, tower-like garden building on the northeast corner and a stair tower raised on the slope just a short distance above.

After Ferdinand II's death in 1695, the pantry garden was converted into an orchard.

In the 19th century, Archduke Karl Ludwig had the summer residence expanded as Tyrolean governor from 1855, with the Keuchengarten being given a kidney-shaped swimming pool with surrounding formal horticultural design based on plans by Heinrich Förster . Boxwood, yew and blood barberry hedges as well as pruned boxwood balls and yew cones were planted. Since then, the garden area has shown these landscaping and formal redesigns from the mid-18th century.

At the end of the 20th century, a garden historical quote from the second half of the 16th century was added: In 1997, the Austrian Federal Gardens designed a part of the Keuchengarten based on a design by Maria Auböck and János Kárász in the spirit of the Renaissance based on an Austrian garden pattern book by Hans Puechfeldner, the around 1592–1594 in Prague for Emperor Rudolph II.

Art History Museum - Ambras Castle Innsbruck

The lower castle has become an exhibit of itself as the oldest museum in the world.

The Ambras Castle Art Museum Innsbruck is the oldest museum in the world and one of the most important international art museums: The museum essentially shows the collections of the Renaissance prince Archduke Ferdinand II (1529–1595), one of the most important collectors of the Habsburg dynasty. He had the Ambras Lower Castle built especially for the collections, one of the earliest museum buildings ever and the only one still preserved from the Renaissance, in which the original collections are still shown today. The objects shown in the armory and the chamber of art and curiosities are outstanding in number and quality. The museum contains the only preserved art and wonder cabinet of the Renaissance. Ferdinand II implemented the systematic collection and presentation here and the museum is therefore considered to be the beginning of the modern museum system.


The castle can be reached from the city with the Innsbrucker Mittelgebirgsbahn Igler (tram line 6) (Schönruh stop). From Schönruh, a wooded rock gorge on the Paschberg between Aldrans and the city, the castle can be reached by a medium-steep downhill walk. From the terminus of tram line 3 you can reach the castle with a steep ascent.

The bus stop "Schloss Ambras" at the beginning of Schlossstrasse is served by the post bus route 4134 to the eastern low mountain range as well as by the sightseeing bus route of the Innsbruck Tourismus TS (The Sightseer), but was never connected to the local public transport network of the IVB ( Innsbrucker Verkehrsbetriebe ). tied up.

The parking space situation for individual traffic on Schlossstrasse is precarious and has become increasingly acute since the nearby Innsbruck-Mitte motorway exit in 2006. Since the end of the 1970s, concepts for an extended parking lot (between Schlossstrasse and Aldranser Strasse, in the area of ​​the first bend on Aldranser Strasse and for the roof of the enclosure of the Inntal Autobahn at Bichlweg) have been worked out, of which the city ​​of Innsbruck has previously worked out however none has yet been implemented. The existing parking lot does not meet the demand and leads to a considerable loss of museum visitors and to a loss of tourist image. Since April 2018, Schlossstrasse has been designated as a park road and is therefore used for urban parking management in order to at least reduce the risk of long-term parkers and hikers to the south-eastern low mountain range.


in alphabetical order

  • Gerd Braun: Ambras Castle as the summer residence of Archduke Carl Ludwig. In: Communications from the Austrian State Archives. 45, 1997, pp. 87-109.
  • Gerd Braun: Ambras Castle in the second half of the 19th century. In: Tyrolean homeland . 62, 1998, pp. 125-150.
  • Gerd Braun: Ambras Castle in Tyrol. In: Castles and Palaces. Journal for Castle Research and Monument Preservation. 36, 2, 1995, pp. 99-111.
  • Monika Frenzel: The gardens of Ambras Castle near Innsbruck. Iron princely complex from the 16th century. In: The garden art . 3, No. 2, 1991, pp. 189-194.
  • Josef Garber: Ambras Castle . (= Art in Tyrol. 14). Filser, Vienna 1928.
  • Elisabeth Scheicher: Ambras Castle and its collections. (= Small art guide. 1228). Schnell & Steiner, Regensburg 1981, ZDB -ID 51387-8 .
  • Ludwig Igálffy von Igály: The Ambras drinking books Archduke Ferdinand II of Tyrol. First volume (1567–1577) transcription and documentation. (= Writings of the Kunsthistorisches Museum. 12). Vienna 2010, ISBN 978-3-85497-192-4 .
  • Albert Ilg , Wendelin Boeheim : The KK Schloss Ambras in Tyrol. Description of the building and collections. 1st edition. Adolf Holzhausen, Vienna 1882. (Reprint: BiblioBazaar et al., 2009, ISBN 978-1-110-23378-6 )
  • Florian Martin Müller : The Roman milestones in Ambras Castle. In: Sabine Haag (Ed.): All'Antica. Gods and heroes at Ambras Castle. An exhibition of the Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien. Ambras Castle - Innsbruck, June 23 to September 25, 2011 . Vienna 2011, ISBN 978-3-99020-006-3 , pp. 18-23.
  •  Eduard von Sacken : About the armaments and weapons of the kk Ambras collection In: Mittheilungen of the kk Central-Commission for the research and preservation of the monuments. 2, 1857
  • Franz Weller: The imperial castles and palaces in pictures and words . Zamarski, Vienna 1880, pp. 432–446. (Full text online)
  • Heinrich Zimmermann: The Renaissance. (...) Archduke Ferdinand of Tyrol and his collection in Ambras Castle. In: Albert Ilg (Hrsg.), Moriz Hoernes (among others): Art-historical character pictures from Austria-Hungary . Tempsky et al., Wien et al. 1893, pp. 194-209. (Full text online 1) , (Full text online 2) , (Full text online 3) . (Alternatives due to incorrect digitization in each case).

Web links

Commons : Ambras Castle  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Veronika Sandichler: Castrum Ameras. 13-20 Century. Views - models - plans . Museum of Art History, Ambras Castle, Innsbruck 1995.
  2. Visit to Ambras Castle by the Archduke heir to the throne (...). In:  Neue Freie Presse , Morgenblatt, No. 17609/1913, August 31, 1913, p. 8, center left (online at ANNO ). Template: ANNO / Maintenance / nfp.
  3. Ambras Castle on the 10 Euro silver coin ( Memento from April 5, 2008 in the Internet Archive )
  4. ^ Elisabeth Scheicher: Ambras Castle. In: Johanna Felmayer : The art monuments of the city of Innsbruck: the courtyard buildings. (= Austrian art topography. Volume 47). Vienna 1986, pp. 508-623.
  5. Veronika Sandichler: Art History Museum Collections Ambras Castle. Innsbruck 1995.
  6. Winner in Architectural Design / Restoration & Renovation. Retrieved January 22, 2018 .
  7. Winner in Interior Design / Hospitality. Retrieved January 22, 2018 .
  8. Veronika Sandichler: Art History Museum Collections Ambras Castle. Innsbruck 1995.
  9. Ambras Castle Park . Entry on the website of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management . Retrieved January 24, 2016.
  10. Monika Frenzel: Garden art in Tyrol - from the Renaissance to today . Tyrolia-Verlag, Innsbruck / Vienna 1998, ISBN 3-7022-2124-7 , p. 50-55 .
  11. ^ Eva Berger: Historical Gardens of Austria. Gardens and parks from the Renaissance to around 1930 . tape 2 . Böhlau, Vienna / Cologne / Weimar 2003, ISBN 3-205-99352-7 , pp. 619-622 .
  12. ^ Elisabeth Scheicher: Ambras Castle. In: Johanna Felmayer: The art monuments of the city of Innsbruck: the courtyard buildings. (= Austrian art topography. Volume 47). Vienna 1986, ISBN 3-7031-0621-2 , pp. 508-623.
  13. Stadtblatt Innsbruck: Parking solution for Amras. August 11, 2010. Retrieved January 19, 2018 .
  14. Stephan Gstraunthaler: Ambras Castle: Hardly parking. October 8, 2015, accessed January 19, 2018 .

Coordinates: 47 ° 15 ′ 23 "  N , 11 ° 26 ′ 5"  E