Where Tradition Meets Innovation
When the sun rises above the majestic Alps, the Tyrol offers yet another glimpse of its picture-perfect setting. Located in the west, the most mountainous state of Austria with its spectacular valleys, rugged peaks, rolling Alpine pastures, and impressive glaciers captures quintessential Alpine scenery. The Tyrol covers an area of about 4,883 square miles, making it the third largest state in Austria. However, due to its mountainous terrain, only about 610 square miles of its total size are actually inhabitable and therefore shared by the over 700,000 Tyroleans living in the state. The majority of the people make their home in the Tyrol’s capital city of Innsbruck, located close to the state’s geographical center in the heart of the Alps. Innsbruck, a place that exudes a unique charm and a distinct level of sophistication, is a perfect epitomization of the Tyrol’s symbiosis of tradition and modernity. While the 800-year old city center of Innsbruck is a classical hybrid of Gothic and Baroque that offers a window into the state’s history, Innsbruck is also home to state-of-the-art architectural highlights, modern research facilities, and exciting sporting and cultural events. Throughout the Tyrol, 21st-century designs harmonize with the silhouettes of medieval buildings and quaint Alpine farmhouses. It offers its visitors something for every taste.
During the winter months, the Tyrol, home to about 2,007 miles of skiable terrain and over 70 different ski resorts, becomes a center for ski and snowboard enthusiasts. It is, therefore, no wonder that the Tyrol is a fixture in the calendar of the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup. Every year, on the last weekend of October, the Ski World Cup opening races take place inSölden, attracting over 30,000 spectators and ski fans. Due to its favorable location, slopes in the Tyrolean ski resorts are perpetually chilled by glacial ice and see snow as early as September. If necessary, artificial snow can be added with a snow-making system that has seen investments of $70 million over the last couple of years. Another annual sports highlight is the Hahnenkamm Race in Kitzbühel, some fifty miles east of Innsbruck. The most famous downhill course called “the Streif” starts at an altitude of 5,463 feet and ends after 2.1 miles almost in the town center of Kitzbühel at an altitude of 2,631 feet. At its steepest, the Streif has an 85% (40.4°) gradient with skiers reaching maximum speeds of almost 90 miles per hour. Each year, almost 100,000 visitors attend the Hahnenkamm weekend, which includes a Men’s Super G on Friday, the famous downhill race on Saturday as well as a slalom race on Sunday. Former Governor of California and Hollywood actor Arnold Schwarzenegger is among the many celebrities regularly attending the races. Underlining the importance of sports in the Tyrol, its capital city Innsbruck is technically the only city that has hosted Olympic Games a total of three times. Celebrating an anniversary this year, Innsbruck first hosted the Winter Olympic Games exactly 50 years ago in 1964, resulting in a total of 12 Olympic medals for Austria. After the city of Denver, Colorado withdrew its bid as host due to rising costs and environmental concerns, Innsbruck was eventually selected to be host city for the second time twelve years later in 1976. More recently in 2012, Innsbruck hosted the first ever Winter Youth Olympic Games. To actively support sports, especially among the youth, the regional government of the Tyrol provides financial assistance via the Tyrolean Sports Promotion Fund in accordance with the provisions of the 2006 Tyrolean Sports Promotion Law. In addition, 4.5 million Euros are made available each year through this fund to finance individual sports events and the activities of various sport clubs, associations, and federations, to construct and refurbish sports facilities, and to promote youth work.
However, funding is not only provided in the field of sports. The regional government of the Tyrol has a cultural mandate to offer financial support to individuals and organizations that are active in the arts with the only requirement being that their activities must be in the interest of the Tyrol and its people, and must either take place locally or have some special relationship with the region. The Tyrol has always been rich in culture and history, evident not only in the many historic sites throughout the state but also in the number of art collections, musical festivals, and architectural projects.
Located in the mountains above Innsbruck, the prestigious Ambras Castle is home to Europe’s oldest collection of arts and armories, the Spanish Hall, and the Portrait Gallery. The Chamber of Arts and Curiosity, created by Ferdinand II, Archduke of Austria in the 16th century, represents a unique example of a late Renaissance encyclopedic collection, displaying rather peculiar and uncommon objects such as the woodcarving of “Death” by Hans Leinberger, goblets, coral collections and artifacts, glass figures, centerpieces, mechanical toys, clocks, and various instruments. The Spanish Hall, which is regarded as one of the most important freestanding halls of the Renaissance, is home to 27 full-figure portraits of Tyrolean rulers, from Count Albrecht I of Tyrol to Archduke Ferdinand II. Close to Ambras Castle, the Regional Museum of Tyrol, “Tyrol Panorama” showcases a famous panorama painting from the 19th century. The renowned art masterpiece depicts the Third Battle of Bergisel of 1809, where Tyrolean farmers under the leadership of Andreas Hofer fought to defend their homeland against the French and the Bavarians. Throughout the Tyrol there are many more exhibits ranging from classic to contemporary, emphasizing the importance of the arts in the state.
The Musical Soul of the Tyrol
It is, however, not only tradition and history that have had an impact on the fabric of the Tyrol. For decades, music has shaped the cultural landscape of the state. Today, the Tyrol is a diverse and vibrant music hotspot that attracts music lovers from all over the world and serves as a platform for creative and cultural exchange. The cultural calendar of the Tyrol offers something for everyone’s music taste ranging from festivals of early and classical music to rock concerts and dance performances. Since 1994, the “Klangspuren Schwaz Tirol New Music Festival” has been one of the most important new music events in western Austria. The goal of the festival is to provide a platform for contemporary, dynamic music while actively supporting young striving artists by incorporating them into the festival’s program and by developing new projects for them. Two other music highlights, which take place in the spectacular Swarovski Crystal Worlds in Wattens, include the classical music festival “Music in the Giant,” as well as the popular “FM Riese - Forward Music Festival” that combines pop and electronic music with new, contemporary classical music. Fans of the electronic music scene in particular will also want to go toSölden, where the annual “Electric Mountain Music Festival,” takes place at 7,546 feet above sea level, attracting thousands of visitors each year, and featuring international top stars like French DJ David Guetta and U.S. rapper Snoop Dogg. Every year in March, the Tyrol becomes the central meeting place for the jazz-world, when the “Artacts Festival” takes place in St. Johann in the Lower Inn Valley. The festival features fine jazz music paired with improvised musical performances and serves as a musical hub for people all over the world. All these events are testament to the Tyrol’s diverse cultural landscape and once more emphasize the state’s active support for artistic freedom and creative ideas.
This is also reflected in the Tyrol’s striving film scene. The picturesque environment, convenient infrastructure, knowledgeable workforce, and favorable location attract film production from all over the world. One film industry that has shown a particular interest in the Tyrolean Alps is India with over 70 Bollywood movies produced in the state. The cooperation between India and Tyrol in particular, and Austria in general has led to a new niche genre that film makers like to describe as “Austro Bollywood.” To further promote Tyrol as a film location, Cine Tirol – the state’s film commission - was founded in 1998 on the initiative of the state government and the regional tourism board.
In every aspect of life, the Tyrol is characterized by the intertwinement of tradition-laden history and cutting-edge innovation. It is one of Austria’s remaining strongholds of genuine and authentic customs but at the same time also offers a dynamic and supportive environment for entrepreneurs, researchers, artists, and athletes alike. The many programs and initiatives as well as the dedication of both individuals and the regional government ensure that the diversity and the history of the state and its inhabitants will be celebrated for many years to come.
For more information visit: www.tyrol.com