Tirol is a city in Austria. Tirol has a land area of 12,648 square kilometers and a population of 630,000, making it the third largest of Austria’s provinces.
A typical Alpine region, only 13% of its land is inhabitable. Conservation and land use laws designate another 20% as nature reserves, protected land where development is by special permit only, or areas closed to all development. Tirol shares borders with Germany, Italy and Switzerland, as well as with the other Austrian provinces of Vorarlberg.
Salzburg and Carinthia
The region called East Tirol is geographically separated from the rest of the province. It is accessible only by routes through Salzburg (the Felbertauern highway and tunnel) or through the Puster Valley, which lies in the Italian province of South Tirol.
Tirol is a paradise for hikers, mountain climbers and skiers
710 of its innumerable mountain peaks are over 3000 meters high. The highest peak in Tirol is the Wildspitze (3774 meters) in the Oetz Valley Alps. Tirol also shares the Grossglockner (at 3797 meters, the highest mountain in Austria) with another province: the peak of the Grossglockner is located in Carinthia, but the mountain is also accessible from East Tirol.
The River Inn enters Austria from Switzerland at Hochfinstermuenz, flows from west to east across Tirol, and leaves the province again at Kufstein, forming a natural border with Bavaria from Kufstein to just past Erl. The river gave its name to the main valley of Tirol, the Inn Valley. The Upper Inn Valley, to the west of Innsbruck, is an area of steep cliffs, high mountains and narrow sided valleys. In contrast, the landscape of the Lower Inn Valley to the east is less dramatic, with broader valley floors and mountains on which grass often grows up to the summit.
The provincial capital of Tirol is Innsbruck
The provincial capital of Tirol is Innsbruck, a city of some 120,000 inhabitants. The Mari a-Theresien-Strasse, considered to be one of the world’s most beautiful streets, runs between Innsbruck’s 800-year-old Altstadt (Old Town) and an imperial arch of triumph built during the reign of Empress Maria Theresia. Special attractions include the Golden Roof, the Imperial Court church with its black statues, and the giant panorama painting depicting the Tirolean freedom fighters under Andreas Hofer in their battle against Napoleon’s troops.
Innsbruck hosted the Winter Olympic Games in both 1964 and 1976. The Olympic ice rink, the bobsled run in nearby Igls, and the ski jump with its two Olympic flames on Bergisel overlooking the city still attest to the glory of the Games. With 76 cable cars, 229 chair lifts, 415 T-bars and 113 rope tows, Tirol is one of the world’s foremost winter sports capitals.
Skiers of every level from beginner to expert can hone their skills at one of 176 ski schools, while youngsters are in good hands at one of 131 ski kindergartens. Nordic enthusiasts will delight in 4,500 kilometers (3000 miles) of scenic cross-country trails, while sledging fans can experience the thrill of 159 tobogganing runs, some of them lit at night. There are ice skating rinks in 153 towns and villages, and 60 of Tirol’s communities maintain over 1000 kilometers (600 miles) of cleared walking and hiking paths.