Innsbruck: Hapsburg Weirdness at Schloss Ambras

Schloss Ambras sits on a hill just outside Innsbruck. We stopped there on the way out of town, and it turned out to be pretty interesting.

 

From the gardens.
Schloss Ambras as seen from the beautiful gardens.
In the Hof (courtyard).
In the Hof (courtyard).

Located on the site of a tenth-century castle, the current version was built in the sixteenth century by Archduke Ferdinand II, the son of the Hapsburg Emperor Ferdinand I. From the the castle, the Archduke, a man of many interests, ruled over the Tyrol and collected armor, portraits and “curiosities.” There is some pretty weird and entertaining stuff in that cabinet of curiosities even today.

Pedro Gonzalez had a very rare genetic condition that caused him and five of his seven children covered in hair. This condition may be the origin of werewolf stories.
Pedro Gonzalez had a very rare genetic condition that caused him  to be covered in hair. This condition may be the origin of werewolf stories. He was very popular at court, however, and married a beautiful Frenchwoman. Five of their seven children were also hairy.
Dwarves were also considered to be an asset at court.
Dwarves were also considered to be an asset at court.
This was not among the curiosities, but I thought the animals were hilarious.
This painting was not among the curiosities, but I thought the animals were hilarious.

The portrait gallery, which unfortunately didn’t allow photos, is all about the Hapsburgs. It is interesting to see how they became progressively less attractive with that famous Hapsburg jaw over generations of marrying each other. The biographies posted by the portraits are kind of amazing. Basically, the only barrier to marriage was being a sibling. One young girl was even married off to her own uncle. Ew. You almost want to cheer when you see that one of them married an unrelated person!

Ferdinand I, father of Archduke Ferdinand, shows signs of the Hapsburg jaw and lip.
Ferdinand I, father of Archduke Ferdinand, already shows signs of the Hapsburg jaw and lip in the early 16th century.
Leopold I, a later Hapsburg owner of the castle, has a much more pronounced version a hundred years later.
Leopold I, a later Hapsburg owner of the castle, has a much more pronounced version a hundred years later.
Charles II of Spain, in the late 18th century, was just a hot mess who was mentally retarded and so deformed he couldn't talk properly.
Charles II of Spain, in the late 18th century, was a genetic mess who was mentally retarded and so deformed he couldn’t talk properly.

Ferdinand’s wife, the untitled (and unrelated–yay for Ferdinand) Phillipine Welser, whom he married in secret, cultivated a large herb garden at Schloss Ambras and extensively researched and documented herbal medicines. She was well-known as a healer and beloved by the local population.

Phillipine's herb garden.
Phillipine’s herb garden.
Posthumour portrait of Phillipine Welser.
Posthumous portrait of the grandmotherly Phillipine Welser.

The castle also features an elaborately painted ceremonial hall, and a pretty chapel.

Restorer at work on the ceremonial hall.
Restorer at work on the ceremonial hall.
The private chapel.
The private chapel.

We had a lovely lunch in the castle gardens before heading off to Trento. Very glad we stopped at Schloss Ambras!

From the inner garden.
From the inner garden.
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