The city of Innsbruck, Austria
After our day in Verona and overnighting in Trento, Italy, we drove on to Munich. Our trip took us through Austria around lunchtime and thanks to our GPS we stumbled across this gorgeous place in Innsbruck.
Ambras Castle, or Schloss Ambras as it's known in German, was built by Archduke Ferdinand II of Austria in the 1560s for his wife Philippine.
There's a bit of a love story here as Philippine was untitled and not considered suitable for Ferdie II by his father, Ferdinand I. They were only allowed to marry on the condition it was kept secret and she become his morganatic wife (which meant she and their children had no claim to any of his titles or property).
But marry they did and he built this gorgeous castle for her, out of the public eye. They had four children together and although she died before him and he married again (a woman of suitable rank*), his wishes were to be buried alongside Philippine. *sigh*
The castle is set in beautiful grounds, both manicured gardens and more bush-type trails through the forest which the kids loved (especially the playground we found). There was also plenty of avian life around the grounds: ducks, water fowl, peacocks and hens and some honking big geese (which I avoided because they looked a bit feisty).
Also found - this grotto. I think Ferdinand II was a bit of a righteous dude as he had the grotto built to play drinking games with his guests.
There is a restaurant (shown below, next to converted stables) where we had a nice meal sitting outside, and also a museum which looked very interesting but unfortunately we didn't have time to explore.
Kids and grown ups of all ages would love this place - we would certainly recommend it.
*His second wife was Anne Catherine, his sister's daughter (i.e. his niece). Eww. They married when she was 16 and he was 53. Double eww.