Innsbruck

Trip Start Aug 02, 2012
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Trip End Aug 02, 2013


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Flag of Austria  , Austrian Alps,
Sunday, October 14, 2012

It was a cloudy and cool day outside so it was perfect for a visit to the Tyrolean Folk Museum. We drove into Innsbruck and parked a bit outside town and then walked to the museum. The museum was one of the best museums that I've ever been to in terms of the quality and variety of exhibits, layout of museum, english guide and value for money. We ended up spending nearly four hours there despite glossing over many of the exhibits. Once we got started, we were just lured from one exhibit to the next. It was the type of museum that you’d get a yearly pass to and still have lots to see every time you went. The electronic guide was very informative and interactive. You just had to scan the exhibit you were looking at and it pulled up the relevant information and often provided additional photographs or background information. On a high level, the museum covered the various aspects of daily life of the people of Tyrol with a lot of it focused on the domestic and cultural aspects. I won’t go into the details of each of the exhibit but here are some of our highlights:

-        Woodworking tools and furniture: intricately decorated planes, chisels, hand drills and other tools which in turn were used to produce amazing furniture including beautifully carved cabinets,  chests with hidden compartments, chairs and stools

ˇ        Farm life: an impressive array of decorative butter molds, animal bells including beautifully carved goat yokes, butter churns and milking stools, and flour chests. Flour was stored in a chest and the owner would smooth out the top layer and then make and indentation with a stamp. This served to identify the owner and also if it was disturbed, he would know that someone had stolen from it!

ˇ        The life-size parlours or "stubes" from the 15th century onwards. Many of them are original parlours that the museum purchased, took apart and then carefully reconstructed to give you the exact look and feel of the room. You can walk through about ten different parlours and even sit on the furniture. The only thing missing was a roaring fire, some hot food and cold beer being served. 

ˇ        Traditional folk costumes on life-like wood figures (it almost felt like you were in a wax museum): when the museum creators had thought about wanting to capture the traditional garb of the various peoples of the Tyrol area, they commissioned a sculptor to carve life size models on which the clothes could be displayed. The sculptor sought out real people from each area, sketched them, and then carved life-size figures in their exact image! 

ˇ        Old photography exhibit: recreated a typical photo studio from the early days of photography with actual photographic equipment from the time including flashes, shades, cameras, negative plates

Our visit to the museum also included a visit to the neighbouring church which is famous for the imperial tomb of Emperor Maximilian I, a member of the Habsburg family (a family that we’d continue to learn about at various other museums). Before we entered the church, there was an amazing multimedia display that gave us a background on the emperor, his dynasty and also his fascination with wanting to be remembered both in life and in death. So to ensure the latter, he spent an absolute fortune building his imperial tomb where he wanted to be buried.  Maximillian I didn’t control his finances very well during his reign and ran up quite a debt. His tomb was also only partially complete at the time. When he died, the Austrian parliament denied him his wish to be buried in his tomb. I felt that this was very socially responsible of the Austrians. However, they couldn’t stop future monarchs from continuing to pour money into to completing the tomb. I wonder if they’re still trying to recoup the costs today using our entrance fees.  The tomb takes center stage in a large church and is flanked on either side by life size statues of people that the emperor admired, including King Arthur. Not a very humble emperor, he also included a statue of himself. The tomb itself is about 3 meters high, by 2 meters wide by about 7-8 meters long. It is made mostly out of marble and inlaid with intricate carvings of scenes from the emperor’s life. The iron grill work surrounding the tomb is really impressive, too.

Once we were done visiting the tomb, we stopped off in the museum for a café since we were both pretty tired having walked non-stop for nearly four hours.  From there, we wandered through a few of the main streets of the old town of Innsbruck and took some pictures of the neat building facades and of the famous Golden Roof. This roof, finished with gold colored tiles, was built by Maximillian I so he had a place in the center of town from which to watch over festivities and celebrations.  Having explored the town a bit, we also picked up a sacher torte and apfelstrudel for desert back at camp. Sacher tortes, a regional specialty, are a soft, dry chocolate cake topped with a layer of chocolate. Both desserts were really delicious and I’m slowly coming to the conclusion that there is no such thing as a bad patisserie in Europe – there is only good, excellent, and mouth-watering. 
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