»A hall of fame of iron«

Armoury of Heroes


The Armoury of Heroes forms the core of Ferdinand’s collections.

The archduke was the first to realize the completely novel museum concept of extensively and systematically collecting and presenting objects. He gathered armour, weapons, and portraits from famous personalities of his era as well as from previous centuries. In this manner, he wished to pay tribute to the exceptional deeds primarily of military leaders, and to accentuate the leading historical role of the Habsburg dynasty. 

The choice of heroes was based on outstanding military and historical accomplishments. Events such as the Venetian wars, the Peasants’ War, the Battle of Pavia, the siege of Vienna, the Tunisian campaign, the Schmalkaldic War, the Turkish wars of 1556 and 1566, the naval Battle of Lepanto 1571, and the defence of Christianity in North-Eastern Europe should all have been documented by means of armour and portraits in the Armoury of Heroes.

Armoury of Heroes & tournaments

Archduke Ferdinand II (1529–1595) was able to acquire more than 120 original suits of armour. Eight of the tall wooden cabinets, in which the original suits of armour today still provide a testimony of history, are preserved. In the middle cabinet, the archduke himself joined the ranks of the heroes.

Ferdinand selected equipment for riding and jousting from the inventories of his antecedents, Archduke Sigmund (1427–1496) and Emperor Maximilian I (1459–1519), to represent the medieval form of the chivalric tournament. Today’s exhibit reconstructs a tiltyard as it is known from Freydal, the tournament book of Emperor Maximilian I.

Archduke Ferdinand II (1529–1595) housed his world-famous collections in the Lower Castle, the building that he had specifically erected to function as a museum.

The categories of generals and colonels were illustrated by oval portraits.

The Armoury of Heroes of Ambras Castle was organized hierarchically according to the social status and military rank of the individuals, also reflected in the format of the image of those depicted in portraits. The categories of the generals and colonels were illustrated by oval portraits, whose frames included the signature of the person represented for better identification. Triangular portraits depicted less important personalities. 

Many of the 120 suits of armour that were originally located in the Armoury of Heroes are today on display in the Imperial Armoury of the Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien. 

Armoury of Heroes

Ambras Castle
Schlossstraße 20
6020 Innsbruck

Daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Closed in november

Information for your visit

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