Located on the southern edge of Innsbruck, the Wilten district provides sweeping views of the Tyrolean capital from the famous Brenner Pass. The remarkable vista includes the Stift Wilten and the Wilten Basilica, two historic churches that flank the main thoroughfare of Leopoldstrasse. Ruins beneath the Wilten Basilica reveal that another church, which dates back to the earliest days of Christianity, once occupied the site. According to oral tradition, Christians and Roman Legionnaires, stationed in nearby Veldidena, visited the church to see a renowned painting of the Madonna.
During the early 12th century, the revered site came under the control of the Premonstratensian Order, which built another church in 1259. The church became the focus of pilgrimages for its sculpture known as Our Lady of the Four Columns. The local congregation renovated the church several times throughout its nearly 500-year history. In 1751, they decided to demolish the building due to its dilapidated condition. Construction of the Baroque style edifice that now occupies the site was completed in 1756. Architect Franz de Paula Penz and artisans built the basilica based upon a design by Josef Stapf.
The twin-towered façade has a white and buttery-yellow hue. The rich interior palette of soft colors and gold leaf that adorn the basilica is considered one of the region’s finest examples of Rococo architecture. Renowned artists, such as Franz Xaver Feichtmayr, Anton Gigl and Matthäus Günther, created the plasterwork, statues, paintings and ceiling murals depicting the life of the Virgin Mary. In addition to the painting dedicated to Mary located near the choral section, Judith and Ruth are featured in vault paintings in the nave. The basilica’s centerpiece is the high altar, which is framed by four pillars and capped by a large crown. Beneath this marble canopy is the 14th century sandstone statue of the Madonna.
The basilica is one of the oldest parish churches in the area and is considered the mother church of the Innsbruck diocese. It is located adjacent to the home of the Wiltener Boys Choir, one of Europe’s oldest and most highly regarded choral groups.
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