The Court Church is also known by locals as “Schwarzmander Church” thanks to the 28 life-size bronze figures that stand guard, watching over the tomb of Emperor Maximilian I. Strange but true: eight of the “Black Men” (Schwarzmander) are actually women and the Emperor’s tomb is empty. But this beautifully crafted masterpiece is still a work of art and wonderful to behold.
Highlights and heroes
Maximilian is actually buried in Wiener Neustadt, in a church where the walls and foundations weren’t strong enough to bear the weight of his lovingly crafted tomb. He had meticulously planned his final resting place during his lifetime but it was only completed three decades after his death. And who watches over the Emperor post mortem? For this he chose heroic figures and virtuous ancestors. His two wives, Maria von Burgund und Maria Sforza, are found amongst them, as well as Archduke Sigismund of Tyrol, King Ferdinand of Portugal and even the legendary King Arthur.
The final resting place of freedom fighters
The Emperor’s tomb takes pride of place in the church. However, the building is also home to legendary local heroes, such as freedom fighter Andreas Hofer. In 1809, Andreas Hofer led thousands of brave Tyroleans against the superior force of Napoleonic troops on Bergisel. He was executed for this in Mantua but is still revered as a hero in Innsbruck. The Court Church is also the final resting place of his fellow soldiers Josef Speckbacher, Joachim Haspinger and Kajetan Sweth.
The Silver Chapel is a highlight that shouldn’t be missed on a visit to the Court Church. Two additional famous people from Innsbruck are buried here: Archduke Ferdinand II and his wife Philippine Welser. She was a local superstar during her lifetime: the “Queen of Hearts”, a herbal expert and a bathing beauty who was even accused of witchcraft by malicious tongues. A magnificent silver alter and Madonna by imperial architect Giovanni Lucchese is the main feature of the room alongside another special piece: an organ with pipes made exclusively of wood.
Organs and the choir
The Court Church is well-worth a visit for organ enthusiasts. The main room features two organs: The first is a “swallow’s nest” organ by Jörg Ebert, which is almost 500-years-old and the largest, best-preserved Renaissance organ in Austria. The second is a more recent organ that was built around 1900 by Hans Mauracher and can be seen on the gallery.