The Inn valley has always been strategicaly important due to
its geographical and central location. The first settlements
date back to the Bronze Age. As the Roman Empire expanded to
the North, the valley became an important military transportation
route. They built a fortified road fort, Veldidena, which is
now Innsbruck's district of Wilten. With the settlements of
the Bajuwaren, the area became Bavarian and was later given
to the Bishops of Brixen, who lost more and more control of
the area to the native Tyrolean counts. In the year 1187 the
name "Innsbrucke", which means Bridge over the River Inn, is
first mentioned. Soon they built Innsbruck as the centre
of their domain.
In the 15th century the emperor Maximilian I made Innsbruck the centre of his new administration, culture and financial politics. He erected the "Goldene Dachl" in the core of Innsbruck's now historic center, a renaissance oriole, decorated with gold painted copper shingles. In 1665 Empress Maria Theresia built the Triumph Gate and expanded the "Hofburg", the residence of the Habsburgs in Innsbruck.
Nowadays, the architecture of this period still characterises the cityscape of Innsbruck.
In 1805 Napoleon's armies defeated Austria and Tyrol was given to the Bavarians. The Tyrolean resistance fighter Andreas Hofer managed to free Tyrol from the German and French troops for a while an in 1814 it was returned to the Austrians. Andreas Hofer is a Tyrolean National hero and a large painted round panorama picture, the "Rundgemälde", was dedicated to his fight on the Mount Isle.
Nowadays Innsbruck, with its 150.000 inhabitants, is, as a result of its favourable position in the Alps, an international centre for winter sports and was the host of the Olympic Winter Games twice, in 1964 and 1976. Innsbruck is also kind of an unofficial capital for snowboarding in Europe.
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