Ambras Castle (Austria)

Tyrol     See list of castles in Austria

Schloss Ambras Innsbruck is located on a rock, about 100 meters above the valley floor created by the river Inn, on the present outskirts of the Tyrolean state capital. As early as the 10th century, news about Ambras has been handed down, using the spelling "Amras" or "Omras". Long before the city award of Innsbruck, it reached supra-regional importance in the High Middle Ages as a permanent seat of the originally from Upper Bavaria wealthy earls from the house Andechs.

From the original castle of the Andechs, which was destroyed in 1133, nothing is preserved. From the Andechsern the castle passed on the Erbweg into the possession of the Tiroler Landesf├╝rsten. The medieval stock can only be read off the building structure of the Hochschloss.

The Castle of Archduke Ferdinand II

Archduke Ferdinand II (1529-1595) was first imperial governor in Prague, before he became Prince of Tyrol and the Austrian foreland in 1564. After a three-year transitional period during which he led the government from Prague, he opened his court in Innsbruck in 1567. He had the medieval castle Ambras built into a Renaissance-style residential castle. Below the high castle was built one of the most important artistic buildings of the late renaissance (1570-72), which since the 19th century has been called the Spanish Hall. Southwest of the Hochschloss he ordered the construction of a ball game house and the so-called Unterschloss (1570-83). Even before the construction work began, Ferdinand had overruled the castle and the associated reign of his wife, Philippine Welser (1527-1580), whom he had secretly married at that time.

During Philippine Welser's lifetime, Ferdinand brought his already well-known collection of armor, weapons, portraits and nature, rarities, "wonders of nature", the latest natural science instruments, musical instruments and treasures to Ambras Castle. In 1589 he had an additional building west of the lower castle, the so-called hero armory grow.

Philippine Welser
Archduke Ferdinand II was the second-born son of Emperor Ferdinand I, and was the bridegroom for a French and Portuguese princess, and even the two queens, Maria Tudor and Maria Stuart, were considered potential marriage candidates. In 1557, however, he secretly married Philippine Welser, the daughter of a wealthy Augsburg patrician and merchant.

Although such a morganatic marriage was valid according to ecclesiastical law, it was considered punishable under the legal systems of most German cities. The marriage therefore had to be kept secret, and Philippine was officially considered unmarried. It was not until two years later that Archduke Ferdinand II informed his father, Emperor Ferdinand I, about the secret marriage.

Philippines always and all helpfulness made her popular, especially in the Tyrol, and not even the nobility was afraid to submit their requests to the formerly not befitting. The salutation in the numerous petitions went from the "gracious Miss" to the "most serene princess, Mrs. Philippine of Austria."

After the death of Ferdinand II
Market Count Karl von Burgau, the second son of Philippine Welser and Ferdinand II inherited the castle and its collections in 1595. However, this was little interested in the costly preservation of Ambras and the collection and sold both in 1606 to Emperor Rudolf II (1552-1612). The emperor residing in Prague left the collection closed at Ambras Castle, as he himself was one of the important Habsburg collectors.

In the following years, the castle was no longer a residence and rarely inhabited. The lack of conservation measures resulted in losses, which are handed down in the handwritten inventories. Above all, books, manuscripts and probably also hand drawings fell victim to moisture and insect bites.

Collection holdings move to Vienna
Already in the 17th century, Emperor Leopold I (1640-1705) brought the most endangered valuable collections of books, manuscripts and early printed works to Vienna. You are now mainly in the National Library. In extreme danger, the collection came in 1805 after the defeat of Austria against the Empire of France. It was not until Napoleon I (1769-1821) recognized the private-law character of the Ambras Collection that it was brought to Vienna in 1806 to safety.

Ambras in the 19th century
After 1855 the castle was transformed into the summer residence of the governor Archduke Karl Ludwig (1833 - 96). In the course of this, there were deep interventions in the castle and park, whereby the plant temporarily lost its closed Renaissance character. The most striking changes were experienced by the Hochschloss by the installation of a romantic ivy-green ramp and the park by a transformation into an English park. After the renunciation of Karl Ludwigs to the governors

Images of the castle

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Upper Austria

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Klessheim Castle

Salzburg State

Useful infos

Latitude: 47.2565828
Longitude: 11.4336189
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Map of Ambras Castle