The Court Church (German: Hofkirche), is home to a host of interesting historical trivia. Built between 1553 and 1563, this Gothic church was constructed by Ferdinand I in memory of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor. His cenotaph inside the church contains a remarkable array of German sculpture from the Renaissance. Andreas Hofer is also interred in the church.
While Maximilian’s will left instructions for him to be interred in a chapel at the castle located in Wiener Neustadt; however, it was ultimately not practical to construct a large memorial there. Consequently, his grandson and executor Ferdinand I opted to construct a monastery and new church in Innsbruck that would serve as a memorial to his grandfather. Ultimately, Maximilian’s tomb was never moved from Wiener Neustadt. The Hofkirche is still a cenotaph.
Andrea Crivelli of Trento designed the church with traditional German elements featuring a hall church comprised of three naves and a choir with three sides, set slightly back. The layered buttresses of the church reflect a blend of contemporary Renaissance design and late-Gothic style. The intricate Renaissance portal was carved by stonemasons Anton de Bol and Hieronymus de Longhi.
The interior of the church features elegant colonnettes of the finest red marble, a lectern, and several galleries. The original ribs of the gallery were constructed from sandstone hailing from Mittenwald and have been carefully preserved. Following a 17th century earthquake that damaged the primary vault, it was subsequently rebuilt featuring the Baroque style.
What is the high altar today was originally designed by a Viennese court architect in 1755. A Viennese academic painter decorated it with a crucifixion while a local sculptor created statues of saints Theresa and Francisco of bronze. The church is also home to a Renaissance organ that dates back to 1560. The organ panels were painted by Domenico Pozzo of Milan.
The side chapel is also known as the Silver Chapel. It was consecrated in 1578 and is named for the silver altar that is dedicated to Mary. The tombs of Archduke Ferdinand II and his wife are also interred here.
The nave’s center is occupied by the ornate black marble cenotaph of Emperor Maximilian. The cenotaph was completed over a period of eighty years. The sarcophagus was not completed until 1572. The final embellishments, including four virtues, an image of the emperor kneeling, and an iron grille, were set into place in 1584. A number of large, bronze statues representing relatives and heroes surround the cenotaph.
The national hero of Tirol, Andreas Hofer, is also interred inside the church. His statue was constructed by sculptor Johann Nepomuk Schaller, while the relief was based on a sketch created by Josef Martin Schärmer.
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