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Cathedral of St. James

Famous religious artworks and iconic Baroque architecture can be found in Innsbruck’s unmissable 18th-century cathedral, located in the city’s charming old town.

The Cathedral of St. James, also known as the Innsbruck Cathedral or Dom zu St. Jakob, is one of the architectural highlights of Innsbruck old town. Come to admire the 18th-century building or go inside to see the rich collection of artwork it contains.

Early records from the city indicate that there has been a cathedral on this site since 1180 and in the Middle Ages it was a crucial point on pilgrimages through Austria. Visit today to see a much more recent structure. A new, Baroque-style church was built between 1717 and 1724. But this church was then damaged in World War II. Fortunately, it was restored.

Stand on Domplatz and marvel at the exterior of the cathedral. One major green-copper dome is flanked by two smaller domes. Touch the light grey limestone, which was quarried from a site on the other side of the river, and look for the statues of the saints in alcoves on the façade.

Step inside the church to enjoy a much brighter interior. Pale pink marble columns, topped by Corinthian capitals, line the nave, which is embellished with gold gilding. The ceiling is decorated with frescoes from the life of St. James. In the left wing, look for bronze figures atop a canopy and you’ve found the tomb of Archduke Maximilian III. This monument was created by Caspar Gras, who was considered one of Europe’s finest metalworkers at the time.

Walk to the far end of the church and pause by the altar. The cathedral’s most famous artwork, Gnadenbild Mariahilf by Lucas Cranach the Elder, hangs above the altar. This much-imitated image of Madonna and Child is surrounded by a golden frame of heavenly creatures. 

Listen for the sound of the cathedral’s organ in the west gallery, which uses 3,729 pipes to create a thunderous sound. The church also plays the Innsbruck “peace bells” every day at noon.

The Cathedral of St. James is located centrally in Innsbruck’s old town, situated next to the Imperial Palace. Walk here from the main train station in 15 minutes through the beautifully preserved streets of the historic center. The cathedral is open daily throughout the year and stays open longer during the summer months.


Guide to Exploring Cathedral of St. James


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