Ambras, Schloss

Schloss Ambras


Ambras Castle

Schlossstraße 20, Innsbruck

Ambras Castle, consisting of the upper castle with the Spanish Hall and the lower castle, looks down on the village of Amras in the municipality of Innsbruck. Archduke Ferdinand II of Austria (1529–1595), from 1564 Count of Tyrol, lived in Innsbruck. He had the medieval Ambras Castle converted into a Renaissance-style residence, which he gave to his patrician first wife Philippine Welser, and moved his major collection of armour, weapons, portraits and rarities there. After his death, much of the collection was transferred to Vienna. Now that it was barely lived in any more, it was redesigned in the mid-19th century under the governor of Tyrol Archduke Karl Ludwig of Austria (1833–1896) as his summer residence. In 1919 the castle became the property of the Republic of Austria. It had been open to the public between 1880 and 1913 and was reopened as a museum in 1922. Since 1950 it has been administered by the Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien.

From 1939, air raid protection measures were installed in the Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum. The collections were kept initially in the museum building, as it was considered that the danger of moving them was greater than the risk of an air raid in Innsbruck. The major works were stored in a vaulted room in the museum library, which was further fireproofed by bricking up the doors. But by the end of 1939, Ambras Castle was being discussed as a salvage depot on account of the "escalating situation". It was not until major German cities began to be bombed, however, that museum director Oswald Trapp – also in his function as Gau curator for Tyrol and Vorarlberg – started preparation in April 1942 for storage in Ambras Castle. As representative of the castle's owners, Franz Hofer, Reichsstatthalter of Tirol und Vorarlberg, gave permission for some rooms in the upper castle to be used for storage. Not all of the necessary adaptations, such as the fitting of iron doors and window shutters in the vaulted rooms, were carried out. In autumn 1942 the most valuable items in the Tiroler Landesmuseum were transferred to Ambras Castle. The vaulted ground-floor rooms were ideal for storage purposes and the most valuable paintings and sculptures were stored there, while the coin collection was housed on the second floor. Added to this were items from closed abbeys and many objects from private art collections. At the end of 1943 the scrolled paintings from the Ferdinandeum, including works by Albin Egger-Lienz, Franz von Defregger, Johann Evangelist Holzer and Antonio Balestra, and Leonhard von Görz’s wax figures were transported to Ambras Castle, and set up on easels of different sizes. The sculptor Franz Staud was put in charge of the salvaged objects, and museum and monument authority employees visited weekly. In March 1944 the Reichsstatthalter of Tyrol and Vorarlberg ordered the castle to be cleared within three days, after the rerouting of the Brenner railway took it close to the village of Amras, thereby increasing the danger of bombardment. The building of an illuminated nocturnal installation in the Amraser Au that was intended to deceive enemy pilots into thinking they were over the city of Innsbruck caused additional security problems. Most of the contents were to be moved to Stams Abbey and its collegiate church, while the photo plates and newspaper were transported to Friedberg Castle and crates with glass and books to Lichtenwerth. Ambras Castle was used after the war as a distribution centre for returned art objects.

Author Info
Publications about the person / institution

Oswald Trapp, Die Kunstdenkmäler Tirols in Not und Gefahr. Bericht des Landeskonservators über die Geschehnisse in den Jahren 1938–1945, Innsbruck-Wien 1947.

Veröffentlichungen des Vereins Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum.


Archiv Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum, Hausakten.
Archiv Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum, Verhandlungsschriften der Ausschusssitzungen des Tiroler Landesmuseums Ferdinandeum.