Kitzbühel is a small Austrian town in the Kitzbühel Alps that is much more famous than its size would indicate. The Tyrolian town of about 8,000 souls is a popular ski resort in the winter and a renowned hiking and vacation destination in warmer months.
Some Kitzbühel History
The first documented mention of the settlement of Chizbuhel (known as Kitzbichl until 1895) dates from the 12th century. Although it belongs to Austria today, Kitzbühel became part of Upper Bavaria in 1255. But since 1504 it has belonged either to Tyrol or Bavaria at various times, finally going to Austria permanently in 1815.
The town’s ever-changing sovereignty reflects its location today in the Austrian province of Tyrol, only about 20 miles south of the German-Austrian border and the German state of Bavaria. Innsbruck, the capital of Tyrol (Tirol in German) lies about 60 miles (100km) to the west. The closest major airport is Munich (MUC), less than a two-hour drive (85mi) northwest of Kitzbühel. There are also airports in Innsbruck and Salzburg (50mi).
Along with the neighboring ski slopes and lifts in Kirchberg in Tirol, Jochberg and around the Thurn Pass, Kitzbühel is one of the largest and most prestigious ski resorts in Austria. The local Hahnenkamm ski run is considered one of the most challenging in the world. Several ski schools in Kitzbühel have an international reputation for excellence.
The Kitzbühel region has a large number of guest accommodations in a wide range of hotels, chalets, pensions and bed-and-breakfasts. No matter the time of year, the resort offers many attractions, events and activities from swimming and tennis to ice skating or curling.
Some Kitzbühel Attractions
- Casino Kitzbühel | Kitzbühel’s city center gambling casino (at Hinterstadt 24 in the traditional Hotel Goldener Greif) caters to its jet set visitors, but all are welcome. Minimum age is 18. Web: Casino Kitzbühel – Info (English)
- St. Catherine’s Church (Katharinenkirche) | Constructed from 1360 to 1365, this High Gothic Catholic church in the heart of the town features a famous altar. The tall church steeple is a striking landmark. Its carillon bells sound at 11:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. daily.
- Christ’s Church (Christuskirche) | White, modern style church built in 1962. Designed by Clemens Holzmeister, it is Kitzbühel’s only Protestant church. (Ölberg 6)
- Church of Our Lady (Liebfrauenkirche) | Baroque church first mentioned in 1373. The tall bell tower, with its acclaimed 6,332 kg bell, was added in 1566.
- Berghaus Holzmeister | This mountain hut on Kitzbühel’s local mountain, the Hahnenkamm, was built in 1930 by architect Clemens Holzmeister. Another Berghaus that was home to the artist and architect Alfons Walde lies just 100m away.
- The Kitzbühel Museum – Alfons Walde Collection | This recently renovated museum at Kirchgasse 2 documents the history of the town, from 1000 BC to the modern winter sports era. It also features a permanent exhibition of works by the Tyrolean painter Alfons Walde. Admission: 6 euros (adults); children under 18 free. Open Tuesday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Web: Museum Kitzbühel (English)
Shopping in Kitzbühel
Kitzbühel’s compact shopping district in the town center is reminiscent of Rodeo Drive, with up-scale retailers such as Lacoste, Prada, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Dolce & Gabbana. Some shops specialize in traditional Austrian clothing.
Ski Champion Toni Sailer
Kitzbühel native Toni Sailer (Anton Engelbert Sailer, 1935-2009), “der Blitz aus Kitz” (“the lightning bolt from Kitz”), was a world and Olympic champion skier and actor born in Kitzbühel on November 17, 1935. Sailer won three gold medals in downhill and slalom during the 1956 Winter Olympics in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. He also won seven gold medals and one silver competing in world Alpine championships in 1956 and 1958. Sailer (SYE-lair) acted in numerous films and TV production from 1957 to 2002. His grave is in Kitzbühel’s Bergfriedhof (Mountain Cemetery).
Notable People with a Kitzbühel Connection
- Werner Baldessarini (1945- ) Austrian fashion designer and businessman, formerly chairman of Hugo Boss
- Ernst Hinterseer (1932- ) Austrian alpine skier
- Hansi Hinterseer (1954- ) Austrian alpine skier and singer
- Clemens Holzmeister (1886-1983) Prominent Austrian architect and stage designer
- Leni Riefenstahl (1902–2003) The German filmmaker, photographer and dancer moved her film-editing studio and archives to Kitzbühel from Munich during World War II. Read her biography at this site.
- Toni Sailer (1935-2009) Austrian champion skier (see more above)
- Alfons Walde (1891–1958) Austrian expressionist painter and architect
AT THE GERMAN WAY
- City Guides: Austria – More cities
- City Guides: Germany – More cities
- Driving in Europe – Tips for driving in Germany and Europe
- Air Travel – Flying to or in Austria
KITZBÜHEL ON THE WEB
- Holidays in Kitzbuehel Tyrol – Kitzbuehel.com (English)
- Ski Kitzbuehel – Telegraph – A guide to skiing in and around Kitzbühel
- Ski Guide: Kitzbühel, Austria from the Travel Channel
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