Completed in 1450, the Innsbruck City Tower once served as an observation point for sentries who announced the hours of the day. The guards also maintained civic order at night and monitored the city for fires, hostile intruders and other dangerous situations. Innsbruck assigned the first sentries to the tower in 1529 and discontinued the watch program 438 years later in 1967.
Standing more than 150-feet tall, the Gothic structure consists of Hottinger breccia, a type of limestone deposited during the Ice Age. The six-story base contains quarters for the watchmen as well as prisoners who were housed in the building. A series of 148 steps lead to a viewing deck, which provides sweeping views of the city and the resplendent Nordkette mountain range. Soaring above the platform is a plaster-covered, octagonal spire with semi-circular bay windows and a small parlor that serves as a venue for intimate gatherings. Sundials embellish the façade of the base just below the viewing platform, and wrought-iron gargoyles channel water away from the building. Capped with an onion-shaped dome, the spire houses the watchtower’s lantern. The bulbous dome, which replaced the original pointed roof, has adorned the building since 1560. Innsbruck outfitted the tower with its first clock in 1603.
The tower is an important historical landmark in the Old Town district, which once served as part of the old city hall. Located on the main square, the structure was a medieval symbol that embodied the city’s burgeoning wealth. It was a visible testament that Innsbruck was willing to defend the rights and interests of its citizens as well. As a focal point within the community, the tower has provided a vantage point for various civic events, such as markets, fairs and public executions. The town hall and its tower were the seat of local political activities for centuries, which provided a voice for its citizens.
All images above are in the Public Domain.