I‘ve been living in the most beautiful city in the Alps for about forty years now. I was convinced that Innsbruck’s Old Town didn‘t hold any secrets for me anymore, as virtually every cobblestone and brick was familiar to me. I have to admit, however, that in reality I had only seen a fraction so far. Because my recent ‘Per Pedes‘ city tour – with a pair of Swarovski Optik binoculars in hands and soaking up interesting explanations by Dr. Monika Frenzel, the bedrock of the Tyrolean Tourist Guide Association – was an eye-opener in the truest sense of the word.

Thursday afternoon, 3 p.m.: I had been told that Innsbruck is offering walks using Swarovski precision binoculars. You would think that for such a tour you‘d have to head up the mountain – to Patscherkofel, or maybe Seegrube. But no, it actually takes place in the very heart of town! And since Per Pedes – the leading guide association in the Capital of the Alps – promise their customers an amazing experience, I can’t wait to find out what they have in store for us.

'Weitblick', nennt sich die Führung mit Ferngläsern von Per Pedes.

‘Visions‘, a binoculars sightseeing tour of Innsbruck with Per Pedes

Innsbruck‘s Imperial Palace is where it all starts. Before the tour gets underway, we are kitted out with brand new binoculars, courtesy of Swarovski Optik. We put their magnifying properties to the test immediately, and soon there’s a lot of oohing and aahing going on. You wouldn’t believe how fascinating these ancient murals and exquisite paintings appear when viewed through some top of the range lenses made by Swarovski Optik. Even the smallest details, usually not visible to the naked eye, can be clearly distinguished. I get quite excited as I zoom in on the elaborate ceiling frescoes in the Giants Hall and marvel at the intricate patterns of beautiful china plates used for exquisite gala dinners.

Nackte Brüste am Erker des Helbling-Hauses...

Barely visible to the naked eye: exposed breasts on a front oriel of the Helbling House…

Then comes the acid test, as we get ready for some close-up views of the historic buildings that flank Herzog Friedrich Street. At the Helbling House, for instance, where a whole new world opens up to me. Would you have guessed, dear readers of this blog, that the artists of the Rococo era thought nothing of depicting joyful angels with bared breasts? With one of them perched high up, in an ultra-cool pose with a chubby leg dangling in mid-air?

Locker und gelöst. Dieser Rokkoko-Engel scheint gut gelaunt.

Carefree and unfazed. This Rococo angel appears cheerful enough – but sadly lacking in manners.

But in the end it was a much more mundane sight that entirely convinced me to never again explore the city‘s attractions without a pair of Swarovski Optik binoculars. I am talking about the ancient water spouts that protrude from most historic buildings, originally intended to let the rainwater tumble freely onto the cobbled streets. And if in your opinion the Helbling House is just a fine example of playful, sugar-sweet Rococo kitsch, you are in for a sudden surprise, since it is also home to a posse of pretty scary creatures. High up, just below the roof, various fiery dragons seems to be ruling the skies. And they even sport wings. Now, if the Helbling House is dominated by ferocious dragons, what can we expect to detect atop the Cathedral and other nearby church spires?

Sie fliegen hoch und sind mit freiem Auge kaum zu sehen: die Drachen auf Innsbrucks Dächern.

They fly so high.., almost unseen by the naked eye: dragons on the roofs of Innsbruck.

At the Innsbruck Cathedral the exceptionally powerful magnifying properties of my Swarovski Optik binoculars comes in more than handy. Here I am, face to face with the huge Cathedral’s stunning murals and paintings, busts and statues. I‘m fascinated by the razor-sharp views of Lucas Cranach the Elder’s masterful ‘Madonna with Child‘ and numerous frescoes depicting the life of St. James. And thanks to numerous helpful tips offered by our knowledgeable Per Pedes guide we keep on discovering new details.

Der Heilige Jakob ist in dem nach ihm benannten Dom selbstredend prominent vertreten.

St. James obviously takes up a prominent role in the Cathedral named after him.

Now I am quite curious to see what the Cathedral’s water spouts look like. And yes, you have guessed correctly, it’s about dragons again. Although – these here seem to be even more ferocious than the ones at the Helbling House! All of a sudden it occurs to me that dragons are actually Innsbruck‘s animal symbols. Was using their image as waterspouts an attempt to domesticate them? Or were these mythical creatures supposed to instil fear and terror among the population? Well, no one will ever know for sure.

Und wieder wird ein Gebäude in der Innsbrucker Altstadt von Drachen bewacht. Hier: der Dom zu St. Jakob in Innsbruck.

And there’s more to this than just the usual dragon shape. The water spouts adorning the Innsbruck City Tower are arguably the most beautiful of all, as here the rainwater is taken care of by mythical fish with dragon heads which discharge excess water from the tower’s top balustrade.

Bedrohliche Fabeldrachen zieren den Stadtturm.

Mythical and menacing: fantasy dragons embellish Innsbruck’s City Tower.

Die sogenannten 'Krabben' am Dach des Goldenen Dachls. So hautnah und detailliert sind sie nur mit einem Swarovski-Fernglas sichtbar.

Dragon-shaped or not, the shiny metal ‘prongs’ protruding from the Golden Roof can only be viewed in such great detail through Swarovski binoculars.

The tour is over, and I ask myself what I have learned from it. A whole lot, actually. I can assure you that this Per Pedes binoculars walk has definitely changed my whole perspective. I’m burning again with a curiosity that this city obviously deserves. Innsbruck – a great place that never gets boring!

Further Information:


‘Visions‘- guided binoculars tours. A unique Innsbruck city tour with Swarovski Optik binoculars opens up fresh perspectives. Frescoes come to life, the Bergisel Ski Jump and Seegrube are brought to your very fingertips.

Tours available on request.

Languages German, English, Italian, Spanish, Russian

Duration: approximately 2 hours

Group rate: € 150 (maximum of 20 participants, does not include admission to Imperial Palace).Binocular rental from Swarovski Innsbruck, photo ID required as a deposit.
For enquiries please contact: office@perpedes-tirol.at

Tour A:
Swarovski Innsbruck – Old Town – Golden Roof – view of Maria Theresien Street – Ottoburg – view of Nordkette – St. James Cathedral – murals – Imperial Palace – frescoes Giant’s Hall – Swarovski Innsbruck

Tour B:
Swarovski Innsbruck – Golden Roof – Ottoburg – view of Nordkette – St. James Cathedral – murals – view of Maria Theresien Street – City Hall, 360° – panoramic view (Bergisel Ski Jump – Nordkette) – Swarovski Innsbruck

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