Le Chic En Rose

Diaries of an independent traveller

On a particularly cold and dreary Sunday during our stay in Innsbruck, we decided to hop on the Innsbruck Sightseer bus and head out to Schloss Ambras just a couple of kilometres or so outside the city. The beauty of the bus is that you can get on and off whenever you like so we figured that if we didn’t like the castle we could just walk back down the drive and pick up the next bus (they usually come along every 40 minutes or so). We ended up staying a few hours and apart from the impressive architecture of this beautiful Renaissance Castle we were intrigued (yours truly especially) by the story that lies behind the castle walls!


The castle was extensively remodelled by Ferdinand II (1529-1595) in the mid 16th century as a love nest for his bride, Philippine Welser (1527 to 1580) and as such is closely associated with him. Ferdinand was the second son of Ferdinand 1, the Holy Roman Emperor and assisted his father in keeping law and order in the imperial lands. He was made Governor of Bohemia in 1547 and led the campaign against the Turks in Hungary in 1556. Somewhere along the way, he was introduced to Philippine reputedly by her aunt, Katharina von Loxan. Philippine was by all accounts beautiful, highly intelligent and had a very kind heart. However, as the daughter of an Augsburg merchant and financier, she was not considered to be of noble enough rank to marry the likes of Ferdinand. Undaunted, Ferdinand defied his father’s will and secretly married Philippine in 1557. His father was not best pleased and Ferdinand was apparently despatched off to rule over the Tyrol. Since the marriage was morganatic and Philippine could not be styled the Archduchess, nor any children (there were several) inherit the Archdukedom, Ferdinand moved himself and his wife out to Ambras and he lived here from 1563 to 1595 (staying on after Philippine’s death in 1580). The castle covers a large area and there are a number of different sections and galleries. The castle is also the venue for regular art exhibitions and classical music concerts so check here for more information if you are planning a visit.

The castle is well laid out and you gather a lot of information from the sign posts and guides that are dotted around the place. You can take guided tours, but we preferred to wander round at our own pace taking it all in. Ferdinand was by all accounts devoted to his wife who, although shunned by nobles and aristocrats, was beloved by many ordinary Tyrolean folk (so the “secret” must have been widely known!). She was known for her good charity and devotion to the community and despite having various honorary titles conferred on her by Ferdinand never seems to have got “above herself” in her demeanour. Philippine is also regarded as a pioneer of natural medicine. She suffered from a number of ailments, for which she used various medicinal herbs and preparations to treat herself. “Philippine’s Garden” is still tended lovingly to this day by the castle staff. The aroma of the herbs and flowers was wonderful but alas I can’t convey that through pictures!




As part of her “cures” Philippine took regular baths and “Das Bad der Philippine Welser” is a major exhibit at the castle.

Information board en route to Philippine Welser's bath

Information board en route to Philippine Welser’s bath


The bathtub is still on display and is in one of the most cold and draughty parts of the old castle (unheated today), so I hope they had some sort of heating arrangement in the 16th century! It was in an incredibly dark room, sunken and tiled with faded classical murals on the wall. However, in its day, it would have been the absolute height of bathroom luxury and sophistication since ladies taking baths in a bathtub was unheard of! Ferdinand indulged Philippine by having the whole bathing area constructed for her. They even had an elaborate plumbing system, which included provision for hot water so maybe this kept them sufficiently warm! Β Again the Schloss Ambras website has photos and further information here.

Ferdinand’s interests were more orientated towards the military and he built up an impressive collection of weapons and armour, which are housed in the Chamber Of Armour in the lower section of the castle. He also had the magnificent Spanish Hall constructed for balls and festive occasions, which is adorned by impressive life size portraits of Tyrolean rulers.


Unfortunately, because of the inclement weather, we were unable to walk round the extensive Ambras Grounds, which with their mountain backdrop must be spectacular in good weather. The grounds, unlike the castle, are free of charge. However we used our Innsbruck card, which we made good use of during our time in Innsbruck (see post here) to tour round the castle interior and collections. Ferdinand was also a collector of objects and curiosities, which are housed today in the “Chamber Of Art And Curiosities”. Some of the exhibits (which include a portrait of “Vlad The Impaler”) are rather gruesome. You have been warned!

Ferdinand had the Silver Chapel at the Innsbruck Hofburg added on to his father’s rather grim Hofkirche (see last week’s post for some photos). If we hadn’t been put off by the mildly threatening tomb of Maximilian 1, we would have popped in to the chapel, which houses the tombs of Ferdinand, Philippine and her aunt, Katharina von Loxan (her lady-in waiting) who died just 10 days before her in 1580. Devoted to the end, Ferdinand made sure Philippine had a fitting place of rest.

Following Philippine’s death, Ferdinand remarried in 1582 the much younger Anna Katharina, daughter of the Duke Of Mantua. More shocking than the age difference (she was 16, he was 53) was that she was also his niece (her mother, Eleanor, was Ferdinand’s younger sister). This practice was not uncommon at the time in the Hapsburg families, obsessed as they were with forming dynastic ties across Europe. Ferdinand was no doubt anxious for a son and heir to succeed him since neither of his 2 surviving sons by Philippine could inherit his title. In the end his second marriage only produced daughters and after Ferdinand’s death in 1595, the deeply religious Anna Katharina hightailed it to a nunnery! One can only think what poor Philippine would have thought – she must have been turning in her tomb in the Silver Chapel! Nevertheless she and Ferdinand were reunited in death since Anna Katharina preferred to be buried in the chapel of the religious order that she founded at the Servite Convent.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to take any photos of Philippine’s portraits. Since I don’t wish to breach any copyright laws (they were rather strict at Schloss Ambras about taking photos in certain areas only) if you wish to see the face of the lady who so captivated Ferdinand, head here!

It seems appropriate to write about Philippine and Ferdinand’s love story from the past on the eve of St Valentines Day! Thanks go to Monsieur Le Chic for his continued support of Le Chic En Rose! Happy Valentine’s Day, tout le monde!


Copyright Β© 2015 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved



27 thoughts on “A 16th Century Love Story: Tyrolean Traditions And Hapsburg Palaces Part 2

  1. lclalor says:

    This area and these historical figures are unfamiliar to me so I’m enjoying your posts. Quite an impressive palace!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks am so glad you’re enjoying the posts! I found the history fascinating and Philippine and Ferdinand’s love story was lovely. I can recommend Ambras if you’re ever visiting the Innsbruck area! I’d love to have another look round myself and hopefully see the views in better weather πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. realplacespeoplestories says:

    Nice post Rosemary! Looks like an wonderful place with an interesting story behind it. The romantic story fits well now that it is Valentines day tomorrow πŸ˜‰ Thanks for bringing me on the trip!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Hanne as glad you enjoyed the tour! It is a lovely story I was quite taken with it when we were looking round – the situation of royalty marrying a commoner would have been highly unusual back in those times! Have a great weekend πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. realplacespeoplestories says:

        Yes it really is! πŸ™‚
        Wish you a wonderful weekend as well!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Looks rather spectacular. I struggle to understand the’no photography’ rules anywhere. What we need is scratch and sniff blogging facilities to appreciate the herb garden!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes a scratch and sniff button would be a great idea! I think the “no photography” rules often apply to artwork which could be damaged by flash photography so I suppose that makes sense. Philippine’s bathtub had very old faded frescoes on the walls which must be vulnerable to damage. I once saw a poor lady getting a real telling off for taking photos inside the Imperial Hofburg in Vienna!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It looks gorgeous Rosemary – especially the Spanish Hall, what a floor!! (and ceiling and everything else). You managed to get some great pictures and I love the story and history – this kind of place is right up my street. Hope you have a lovely weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Joy it was not only lovely but not crowded at all (that may well change in better weather and we were also there in April, which is low season). The Spanish Hall was amazing and I just loved the story of Philippine and Ferdinand he genuinely seems to have been quite devoted to her and gave up a glittering political career to marry her. Schloss Ambras is a hidden gem and well worth visiting! Have a lovely weekend πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Lucy says:

    Quite impressive palace. Actually, most of them are, and it’s always beautiful to read about them, and even better, see them in person. But every time I visit one, I have to wonder why so big? So many rooms, most kept empty at any time, and a lot of space, used for nothing in particular. Seems like a waste. However, they have a way to snatch you and place you in the time when the corridors were in use. Princess for a few minutes I guess haha πŸ™‚ I’m happy to see you had a wonderful time. Have a lovely weekend! xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Lucy yes it was certainly impressive! I think that castles were often used to defend a settlement and so would be more like a small town in themselves so that would partly explain why they were so big. Of course emperors and nobility also wanted to impress everyone too! Have a lovely weekend too! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lucy says:

        Hah, I think it’s more about impressing everyone rather than about a convenient settlement for defense πŸ™‚ . Thank you so much for your explanations and beautiful post! Hugs x

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You’re very welcome Lucy and yes I think impressing everyone is the primary motive for building these castles and palaces but they are beautiful for us to enjoy today so that’s good! πŸ˜ƒ

          Liked by 1 person

  6. The palace looks very impressive from the inside and it looks like you had the place to yourself. How was you weekend ? did you do anything special for valentine’s day ? Is it famous in australia ?


    1. Thanks Gin yes we more or less had the place to ourselves that day low season and rain had obviously put people off visiting! Had a lovely weekend thanks went out for lunch on the Sunday with the family but nothing special for Valentines Day – yes it is celebrated here and is very commercial! How about you did you enjoy your weekend too? πŸ™‚


      1. I enjoyed the rainy Manchester, visited some museums and did some shopping ! πŸ˜‰ We also spent a day in Peak District, and that was awesome ! πŸ™‚ Otherwise, nothing very special, I don’t really fancy going to an overcrowded restaurant with overpriced menus… πŸ˜‰


        1. The Peak District is lovely! We went there quite a lot when I lived in Yorkshire as we had family friends who lived there and one of my favourite novels “Pride And Prejudice” was based there in part πŸ™‚ Manchester is often rainy though it’s been said that we actually get more annual rain here in Perth – the difference is that it falls primarily over the winter months rather than constant grey drizzle. At least there are lots of nice shops and galleries to look around glad you had a nice time πŸ™‚ Yes we avoid Valentines Day outings for the same reason much better to go a week or so either side if you want to go out (think we’ve been married too long for over the top gestures!!) Hope you’re having a good week and the weather is improving πŸ™‚ I asked my daughter how things were going in London when we Skyped last weekend and she said it’s a bit warmer (around 7 degrees!!!). She’s obviously acclimatising to the English weather conditions! I always start to plan what to take with me around now and unless it’s at least 20 plus I will be feeling cold! Hope you’re having a lovely week πŸ™‚


          1. I love Pride and Prejudice as well, but shame on me, I didn’t know it was based in Peak District ! Jane Austen itinerary are getting popular in the UK, one of my colleague did one and my neighbour is planning to do one next summer !

            There are a lot of shops and cafΓ©, we had a delicious lemon curd cake and a nice coffee over there. Will definitively go back to see the Blue John cave !

            Weather is improving, spring is definitively coming. I’ve seen so many snowdrops in Peark district! It’s a sign !! It is also warmer here, but rainy.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Sounds lovely Gin yum lemon curd cake πŸ™‚ Yes Pemberley (Mr Darcy’s house and estate) was set in Derbyshire though the Bennet family lived in a village in Hertfordshire just north of London. Elizabeth goes on holiday with her aunt and uncle and encounters Mr Darcy again at Pemberley and then he saves the family’s reputation by finding her runaway sister – ahh so romantic!! Good to hear the weather is improving – it’s always colder up in Yorkshire where my family live but should be milder in the south west, London and Munich which are the other places we’re going to. Still I always bring plenty of warm weather clothing (even in summer!!) plus a rainproof coat and umbrella! Hope you’re having a lovely week πŸ™‚


            2. Umbrella is a must have indeed ! πŸ™‚ I’m doing fine, there is a bright sunshine today, I will go out for a run I think ! πŸ™‚

              Liked by 1 person

            3. Sounds great sunshine and being outdoors ! πŸ˜ƒ

              Liked by 1 person

  7. avibrantday says:

    What a fascinating story! Thank you for walking us through it. And, as always, I love your photos :o)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jacqueline am happy you liked the story – it’s good to know others liked it as much as I did I was quite enchanted by Schloss Ambras! Glad you like the photos too – I have so many so it’s good to share them to give everyone an impression of the place! Enjoy your week! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. avibrantday says:

        You could never post too many photos for me. LOL. Thank you :o)

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks so much Jacqueline! Have a lovely week πŸ™‚


  8. Sam Rappaz says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this tryst with history, romance, art and architecture. πŸ™‚ I am learning so much!
    The love story of Ferdinand and Phillipine is just so enchanting. Thank you of sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Sam am so glad you loved the story of Schloss Ambras and Ferdinand and Phillipine too! πŸ™‚ It’s actually very easy to get to from Innsbruck (just outside the city) so hopefully you can go there yourself one day! We were obviously there in the low season (April) and the weather was not so great that day but it added to the atmosphere of the castle and it would be even more stunning in sunshine! You find out so much interesting stuff when you’re travelling around! Thanks for stopping by and have a lovely week! πŸ™‚


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