Wilten Basilica has attracted pilgrims to the Tyrol region since the 14th century. Pilgrims come to see the statue of the Virgin Mary, which is framed by four gilded columns and set beneath an ornate marble canopy. Artwork in the form of murals, statues and intricate plasterwork is displayed around the statue and throughout the church.
Ruins found here suggest that a church has occupied this site since the earliest days of Christianity. Another church was built in 1259 by members of a Roman Catholic religious order. Over the next 500 hundred years, the church was renovated many times but was eventually demolished in 1751. The rococo incarnation you see today was built in 1756. The purpose of this rebuild was to provide the sandstone statue of the Madonna a fitting home. The statue and its surrounding columns, often referred to as Our Lady of the Four Pillars, has been the subject of pilgrimages since the Middle Ages because of its beauty and historical significance.
The church’s façade does little to suggest the wealth of artwork within. Two towers flank a central roof, and the attractive white and gold design is simple. Step inside and the elaborate tribute to the Virgin Mary is eye-catching. Intricate murals by Matthaus Gunther decorate the walls and depict scenes from the life of the Virgin. Admire plasterwork and statues by the renowned artists Franz Xaver Feichtmayr and Anton Gigl.
The details of the interior demand close attention, so plan to spend some time at the basilica. The generous use of white marble, the high arches and the soft pinks, greens and golds used by the artists give the space a feeling of light and peace.
The Wilten Basilica is located on the southern edge of Innsbruck, about 20 minutes’ drive south of the city center. It is open daily and is free to enter. Bear in mind that this is one of Innsbruck’s most popular attractions and it can get busy on weekends and public holidays. The basilica is easily accessible by train or bus.