In the provincial sovereign of Tyrol, Archduke Ferdinand II (1529-95), son of Emperor Ferdinand l, ordered that the mediaeval fortress at Ambras be turned into a Renaissance castle for his wife Philippine Welser. He also commissioned the building of a separately designed museum complex to house his world-famous collections. Constructed according to the most advanced ideas of its time, it is an eminent precursor of our modern-day museums and has been preserved at its original site to this day.
The armories are comprised of rare examples of 15th century jousting armour from the collections of Emperor Maximilian I, suits of armour of famous 16th century commanders, the Archduke’s private armour, the armour of the court of Innsbruck, and weapons from the Thirty Years’ War. In the Chamber of Arts and Curiosities this important patron of the Habsburg family collected all manner of exhibits both precious and curious, rare and singular. Nature and art were grouped together in one room, in keeping with the program of encyclopaedic collections of the Renaissance.
The Spanish Hall is one of the most important freestanding halls of the Renaissance.
Ferdinand’s residential quarters were located in the Upper Castle. Today the following permanent exhibitions are open to visitors: The History of Castle Ambras; The Post Is Here! Postmaster Portraits of the Taxis-Bordogna Family; and the Strasser Glass Collection. The Collection of Gothic Sculpture and the Habsburg Portrait Gallery are also open during the summer season. The paintings include works by famous painters such as Hans Burgkmair, Lucas Cranach the Younger, Giuseppe Arcimboldo, Peter Paul Rubens, and others.