Exploring Ambras Castle, Innsbruck

It’s easy to forget Austria is home to some of the most beautiful castles and palaces the world has to offer. In Innsbruck I thought it would be all about the views, food and hiking. But it turns out the city contains not only a palace at its centre, but also a hidden gem nestled on its outskirts.

Ambras Castle was built all the way back in the 1560s by Archduke Ferdinand II on the base of an even older castle dating back to the 10th century. Ferdinand built this castle for his wife and they both resided here for over 30 years, so probably one of those ‘here’s a present for myself disgused as one for you’ arrangements. I love how minimalist and modest it looks

From the outside it’s not too much in your face like the nearby Neuschwanstein Castle there’s no fancy gardens like Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna. That is until you get to go inside and explore the over-the-top interiors of Spanish Hall and the collections of weapons, books, works of art the pair collected from their travels.

The guy who scanned our tickets reminded us we had an hour left before they’d close and I was very confident that would be more than enough. That was before I learned you’d spend half of your visit to take in the Spanish Hall where some amazing balls and banquets were all the rage. It walls are plastered with 27 portraits of Tirolean rulers…imagine being the 28th most important ruler? I feel for them!

What I often miss in castles is the armouries, you often see one of two here and there, but Ambras has three full chambers of armour including tournament armour, ceremony armour and the suit their very own Ser Gregor ‘The Mountain’ Clegane wore. You’ll have to use your imagination as taking photos weren’t allowed or I was too excited taking it all in.

The lovely landscaped gardens and park of the complex are the perfect spot to spend an additional hour and maybe have a little picnic or nap on the grass – if the weather allows it of course.

What’s on your castle bucketlist?

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