The Golden Roof is Innsbruck's greatest tourist attraction, and is certainly its most characteristic landmark. It's a three-story balcony on a house in the Old Town; the late-Gothic oriels are capped with 2,657 gold-plated tiles. It was constructed for Emperor Maximilian I to serve as a royal box where he could sit in luxury and enjoy tournaments in the square below. Completed at the dawn of the 16th century, the Golden Roof was built in honor of Maximilian's marriage, his second, to Bianca Maria Sforza of Milan (Maximilian was a ruler who expanded his territory through marriage, not conquest). Not wishing to alienate the allies gained by his first marriage, to Maria of Burgundy, he had an image of himself between the two women painted on his balcony. However, he is looking at his new wife, Bianca.

In 1996, the city of Innsbruck added a small museum, the Maximilianeum, to the second floor of the municipal building that's attached to the Goldenes Dachl. Inside you'll find exhibits that celebrate the life and accomplishments of this Innsbruck-based Hapsburg emperor who bridged the gap between the Middle Ages and the Northern Renaissance. Look for costumes, silver chalices and coins, portraits, and a video that depicts his era and personality.

You can also visit the Stadtturm (City Tower), Herzog-Friedrich-Strasse 21 (tel. 0512/587113), nearby. Formerly a prison cell, the tower dates from the mid-1400s and stands adjacent to the Rathaus. From the top, there's a panoramic view of the city rooftops and the mountains beyond. It's open daily 10am to 5pm (July-Sept to 8pm). Admission is 3€ ($4.80) for adults and 1.50€ ($2.40) for children.


While you're here, take a look at the Helblinghaus, Herzog-Friedrich-Strasse, opposite the Goldenes Dachl. It's a Gothic structure to which a rococo facade was added.