Innsbruck’s iconic Goldenes Dachl (Golden Roof) is found on Herzog-Friedrich-Strasse, the main square in Innsbruck’s charming Gothic and Baroque Altstadt (Old Town). The three-story, gold-topped balcony is tacked on the Neuhof (New Court), which was built by Archduke Friedrich IV in the early 15th century as a residence fit for kings.
The Golden Roof was constructed in 1500 at the behest of Habsburg Emperor Maximilian I in celebration of his second dynastic marriage, this time to Bianca Maria Sforza of Milan. The roof glitters with 2,657 sparkling gilded copper tiles, apparently placed there to confound rumors that the Imperial Family was running out of money.
Intricate carved wooden reliefs and frescoes painted on to the balcony show the emperor’s many coats of arms, and his likeness alongside that of both his wives. The structure also provided Maximilian I with an appropriately regal spot from which to observe tournaments and festivals in the square beneath. At Christmas, carolers appear on the balcony to serenade the crowds at the Yuletide Market in the square.
Inside the Neuhof, the six-room multimedia Maximilianeum showcases the life and times of Maximilian I, highlighting the political and economic power struggles endemic in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries.
The Goldenes Dachl is accessible on foot in Innsbruck’s pedestrianized area, just a few minutes’ walk from the main parking garages. The museum is open from December through October, and closed on Mondays between October and April. Multi-language audio guides are available in the museum. There is an admission fee for the museum but it’s free for Innsbruck Card holders; this pass allows free entry into most major Innsbruck museums and Swarovski Crystal Worlds.