Court Church

Coordinates: 47°16′06″N 11°23′43″E / 47.26839°N 11.39525°E / 47.26839; 11.39525
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Hofkirche in Innsbruck, Austria
AffiliationRoman Catholic Church
Year consecrated1553
LocationInnsbruck, Austria
Court Church is located in Austria
Court Church
Shown within Austria
Geographic coordinates47°16′06″N 11°23′43″E / 47.26839°N 11.39525°E / 47.26839; 11.39525
Architect(s)Andrea Crivelli
StyleGothic, Renaissance
FounderEmperor Ferdinand I
General contractorNikolaus Turing
Direction of façadeNNE

The Hofkirche (Court Church) is a Gothic church located in the Altstadt (Old Town) section of Innsbruck, Austria. The church was built in 1553 by Emperor Ferdinand I (1503–1564) as a memorial to his grandfather Emperor Maximilian I (1459–1519),[1] whose cenotaph within boasts a remarkable collection of German Renaissance sculpture. The church also contains the tomb of Andreas Hofer, Tyrol's national hero.[2]

Although Maximilian's will had directed that he be buried in the castle chapel in Wiener Neustadt, it proved impractical to construct there the large memorial whose plans he had supervised in detail, and Ferdinand I as executor planned construction of a new church and monastery in Innsbruck for a suitable memorial. In the end, however, Maximilian's simple tomb remained in Wiener Neustadt and the Hofkirche serves as a cenotaph.


The Hofkirche is located at Universitätsstraße 2, adjacent to the Hofburg in the Altstadt section of Innsbruck. The church was designed by architect Andrea Crivelli of Trento in the traditional German form of a hall church, consisting of three naves with a setback three-sided choir, round and pointed arch windows, and a steep broken hip roof. Its layered buttresses reflect compromise of contemporary Renaissance design with German late Gothic style. Stonemasons Hieronymus de Longhi and Anton de Bol carved the fine Renaissance portal.

Choirstalls and altar

The church interior contains galleries, high slender colonnettes of red marble with white stylized Corinthian capitals, and a lectern. The gallery's original ribs made from sandstone from Mittenwald have been preserved, but after the main vault was damaged by earthquake in the 17th century, it was rebuilt in the Baroque style.

The high altar seen today was designed in 1755 by the Viennese court architect Nikolaus Pacassi, and decorated with a crucifixion by the Viennese academic painter Johann Carl Auerbach, and bronze statues of Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Teresa of Ávila by Innsbruck court sculptor Balthasar Moll (1768). The Renaissance organ (1560) is by Jörg Ebert of Ravensburg, and described locally as one of the five most famous organs in the world. Domenico Pozzo from Milan painted the organ panels.

A side chapel, called the Silver Chapel (Silberne Kapell), was consecrated in 1578. It contains a silver altar to Mary incorporating three elephant tusks and three hundred kilos of ebony, and the tombs of Archduke Ferdinand II and his wife Philippine Welser—both by Alexander Colyn.


Maximilian's cenotaph

Emperor Maximilian's ornate black marble cenotaph occupies the center of the nave. Florian Abel, of the Prague imperial court, supplied a full-sized draft of the high tomb in the florid style of court Mannerism. Its construction took more than 80 years. The sarcophagus itself was completed in 1572, and the final embellishments—the kneeling emperor, the four virtues, and the iron grille—were added in 1584.

Trento mason Hieronymus Longi directed construction of the tomb proper. The base of the tomb consists of Hagau marble, a Jurassic limestone found in the North Tyrol and used as a building stone throughout western Austria.[3] The bronze relief frieze of trophies includes vases, suits of armor, weapons, shields, musical instruments, etc., and above that two rows of white marble reliefs. The 24 reliefs were created by the artist Alexander Colin, based on woodcuts from The Triumphal Arch (Ehrenpforte) by Albrecht Dürer, with four stone bas-reliefs each on the tomb's ends, and eight on its longer sides. They depict events from Maximilian's life as follows:

  1. Marriage of Maximilian to Mary of Burgundy, 1477
  2. Victory over the French at the First Battle of Guinegate, 1478
  3. Recapture of Arras fortress, 1492
  4. Maximilian's coronation as King of the Romans in Aachen, 1486
  5. Victory of Archduke Sigmund of Tyrol over the Venetians at Calliano, 1487
  6. Maximilian's liberation of Vienna from Hungarian Rule, 1490
  7. Capture of Stuhlweissenburg, 1490
  8. Return of Maximilian's daughter Margarethe by the French King, 1493
  9. Retreat of the Turks from Croatia, 1493
  10. Alliance of the Holy League against France, 1494
  11. Maximilian's Wedding with Bianca Maria Sforza, 1494
  12. Marriage of Philip the Fair to Joanna of Castile, 1496
  13. Victory of Maximilian over the Bohemians near Regensburg, 1504
  14. Capture of Kufstein Fortress, 1504
  15. Subjugation of the Duke of Guelders, 1505
  16. Alliance of Cambrai against Venice, 1508
  17. Victory over Venice, 1509
  18. Return of Duke Maximilian Sforza to Milan, 1512
  19. Victory over the French at the Second Battle of Guinegate, 1513
  20. Maximilian and King Henry VIII of England meet at Thérouanne, 1513
  21. Defeat of the Venetians near Vicenza, 1513
  22. Capture of the Venetian Fortress of Murano, 1514
  23. Betrothal of Maximilian's grandson Ferdinand to Anne of Bohemia and Hungary, 1515
  24. Defense of Verona, 1516

The tomb is enclosed within a fine wrought iron grille created by Jörg Schmidhammer of the Prague court, based on a drawing by the Innsbruck painter Paul Trabel, and capped with statues of the four virtues and kneeling emperor cast in Mühlau from models by Alexander Colin.


Duke Leopold III
King Arthur

The cenotaph is surrounded by 28 large bronze statues (200–250 cm) of ancestors, relatives and heroes. Their creation took place between 1502 and 1555, and occupied a number of artists including Christian Amberger, Albrecht Dürer, Jörg Kölderer, Jörg Polhamer the elder, Gilg Sesselschreiber, Ulrich Tiefenbrunn, and sculptors Peter Vischer the Elder, Hans Leinberger, G. Löffler, Leonhart Magt, and Veit Stoß. Three of the statues are based on designs by Dürer. According to David Gass, executive at the Jupistarchive, the inclusion of the King Arthur and Godfrey of Bouillon statues was owing to Louis II's sister, Anna, the Queen of Bohemia's having married Ferdinand, Maximilian's grandson, and having brought her English heritage with her. Both men were said to have been her ancestors. The following list includes the statues (clockwise from the left of the altar), with the designer, sculptor, cast, and year of execution of each:

  1. Joanna, Queen of Castile († 1555), Sesselschrieber and Kölderer, Magt, Godl, 1528
  2. Ferdinand II, King of Aragon († 1516), Polhaimer, Magt, Godl, 1530–31
  3. Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy († 1467), Sesselschrieber, Magt, Godl, 1521
  4. Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy († 1477), Sesselschrieber and Kölderer, Magt, Godl, 1525–26
  5. Cymburgis, Archduchess of Austria († 1429), Sesselschrieber and his workshop, 1516
  6. Margaret, Duchess of Savoy († 1530), Tiefenbrunn, Magt, Godl, 1522
  7. Bianca Maria Sforza, Holy Roman Empress († 1511), Tiefenbrunn, Magt, Godl, 1525
  8. Sigismund, Archduke of Austria († 1496), Kölderer, Magt, Godl, 1523–24
  9. Arthur, King of Britain († 6th century), Dürer, Artusmeister, Vischer, 1513
  10. Ferdinand I, King of Portugal († 1383), Sesselschrieber and his workshop, 1509
  11. Ernest, Duke of Austria († 1424), Sesselschrieber and his workshop, 1516
  12. Theoderic the Great, King of the Ostrogoths († 526), Dürer, Artusmeister, Vischer, 1513
  13. Albert II, Duke of Austria († 1358), Polhaimer, Magt, Godl, 1528/29
  14. Rudolph I, King of Germany († 1291), Sesselschrieber and his workshop, 1516/17
  15. Philip I, King of Castile († 1506), Sesselschrieber and his workshop, 1516
  16. Clovis I, King of the Franks († 511), Amberger, Arnberger, Löffler, 1509
  17. Albert II, King of Germany († 1439), Sesselschrieber and Polhaimer, Magt, Godl, 1526
  18. Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor († 1493), Sesselschrieber and Kölderer, Magt, Godl, 1523/24
  19. Leopold III, Margrave of Austria († 1136), Kölderer, Magt, Godl, 1520
  20. Albert IV, Count of Habsburg († 1239), Dürer, Leinberger, Godl, 1517
  21. Leopold III, Duke of Austria († 1386), Kölderer, Magt, Godl, 1519
  22. Frederick IV, Duke of Austria with the Empty Pockets († 1439), Tiefenbrunn, Magt, Godl, 1523/24
  23. Albert I, King of Germany († 1308), Polhaimer, Magt, Godl, 1527
  24. Godfrey of Bouillon († 1100), Polhaimer, Magt, Godl, 1533
  25. Elizabeth of Luxembourg, Queen of Germany († 1443), Polhaimer, Magt, Godl, 1530
  26. Mary, Duchess of Burgundy († 1482), Sesselschrieber, Sesselschrieber, Sesselschrieber, 1513/16
  27. Elizabeth of Carinthia, Queen of Germany († 1313), Sesselschrieber and his workshop, 1516
  28. Kunigunde, Archduchess of Austria († 1520), Sesselschrieber, Sesselschrieber, Sesselschrieber, 1516/17

The gallery contains 23 small statues (66–69 cm) of the Habsburg patron saints. They were designed by court painter Jörg Köldere around 1514/15, and carved into wood and then wax by Leonhard Magt. The church also once contained a number of busts of Roman emperors; 20 are now displayed in Schloß Ambras and one is in the Bavarian National Museum in Munich.

Andreas Hofer tomb[edit]

Andreas Hofer, Tirol's national hero, is also buried within the church. Sculptor Johann Nepomuk Schaller made his statue; Josef Klieber created the relief of the "Fahnenschwur" (Swearing on the flag) based on a sketch by Josef Martin Schärmer.



  1. ^ Hofkirche website Archived 2008-03-07 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Hofkirche (Court Church), Innsbruck
  3. ^ Unterwurzacher, Michael; Bidner, Thomas; Mirwald, Peter W. (2006). "Weathering experiments on three Alpine marbles – comparison on exposure studies and laboratory experiments". In Fort, Rafael (ed.). Heritage, weathering and conservation 2006: Book of abstracts : International Conference, Madrid, 21-24 June 2006. Madrid, Spain: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas. p. 183. ISBN 978-84-00-08421-9.
  • Egg, Erich (1993). Michael Oberer (ed.). Hofkirche in Innsbruck: Grabmal Kaiser Maximilians I. Innsbruck: Kunstverlag Hofstetter. ISBN 978-3702211660.
  • Marsh, Christoph. The Hofkirche in Innsbruck. Innsbruck: Alpina.

External links[edit]