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.
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.
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’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.
The castle also features an elaborately painted ceremonial hall, and a pretty chapel.
We had a lovely lunch in the castle gardens before heading off to Trento. Very glad we stopped at Schloss Ambras!