“Use every moment, dance every dance, you can’t take anything with you.”
It’s said that the scroll found on the relief of the famous Golden Roof in Innsbruck’s old town bears these words. However, the writing still hasn’t been deciphered so this is mere speculation – one of the many mysteries that revolve around Innsbruck’s sparkling golden landmark.
The Golden Roof was a symbol for the old centre of Europe and a reflection of inconsistencies in times of great change. Sumptuously decorated with 2,657 fire-gilded copper tiles, all still original, it forms the roof of an alcove balcony that the great Emperor Maximilian I had added to the existing “Neuhof” building around 1500. Innsbruck’s Gothic old town stretches out unchanged in front of it. A place where you can always feel a touch of the late Middle Ages and experience the fascinating past in the present day.
Who still dreams of time travel?
Innsbruck’s historic old town takes you back to the time of Emperor Maximilian I. The late Gothic façades built from 1490 to 1520, the arcades constructed in a typical Innsbruck-Salzach style and the colourfully decorated bay windows bring history and culture to life. And the arcades still fulfil their initial purpose today – keeping shoppers dry. The Golden Roof is the crowning glory of the old town. Set below the majestic peaks of the Nordkette mountain range, it watches over history as the centuries pass – just as Emperor Maximilian I watched over the colourful bustle of the old town from his alcove balcony all those years ago, as he enjoyed the variety and beauty of this breathtaking piece of history. And the best part: today you can enjoy this imperial view.
The Golden Roof Museum
Dry, dull and stuffy. Boring and dusty. Just a typical museum? Not the Golden Roof Museum. Here vibrant exhibits and interactive elements tell the story of the unique building and its creator Emperor Maximilian I. Visitors also learn about the exciting history of a city that, centuries ago, was more rich, vibrant and urban than any other city in the heart of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation and how it paved the way for the future. This was a place where guilds and estates ruled, where townsfolk, aristocrats and beggars shaped the cityscape and where lively celebrations were held by the light of flaming torches. But there was also a dark side to the Late Middle Ages: public burnings in the shadow of the Golden Roof, bloody battles and violent confrontations.
A special insider tip: Emperor Maximilian’s jester “Kunz von der Rosen” leads kids big and small on a journey through the incredible world of history. Creative games and exciting books skilfully arise their curiosity about this exciting time.
Stolen tiles and other anecdotes from the life of the Golden Roof
You can see that the Golden Roof hasn’t lost any of its charm or magical attraction just by looking at its most recent history: In 2012, there was a great stir when eight of the valuable tiles were stolen. A few days later, they reappeared in various places around Innsbruck and were returned to their rightful owner – and the city let out a sigh of relief. However, just a few years earlier in 2007, a tile was taken from the Golden Roof and replaced with a wooden roof tile from a hay barn from Vals in the Wipp Valley. For a while, the hay barn was adorned with this wonderfully shiny, golden tile, worth € 1,500. But the crafty exchange was soon reversed, much to the delight of the people from Innsbruck.
On a lighter note: the square in front of the Golden Roof has been the venue for the “International Golden Roof Challenge” since 2005 – an athletics meeting and exciting sports event of international standing.
Discover more sights
May to September:
Monday to Saturday
10 am – 5 pm
October to April:
Tuesday to Sunday
10 am – 5 pm
Closed in November