Brixen (Italian: Bressanone) is a town in South Tyrol. The first human settlements in the area date back to the Mesolithic age. During the restoration and consolidation of Piazza Duomo (1996), the remains of a hut dating back to around 2,500 years ago were discovered, at a depth of about 4 meters underground. The area was conquered by the Romans, who had their main settlement in the nearby Säben (Italian: Sabiona). They held it until around 590, when it was occupied by Bavarians. Between 960 and 990 the town's influence and participation in the Catholic Church grew dramatically. It was during this era that the first version of the current Cathedral of Brixen was built. Brixen became the seat of an independent ecclesiastical principate when the bishops from Säben moved the bishopric from there in 965 AD. The bishopric was secularized in 1803 and annexed by the Austrian Empire. After the end of World War I, Brixen was annexed by Italy.
The Citybus public transport service has four lines that reach into surrounding villages that are part of the Brixen municipal area. The lines within the city run on 15 minute intervals, while the surrounding villages are served every 30 minutes.
- Line 1: Albiens-Brixen-Varhn (Italian: Albes - Bressanone - Varna)
- Line 2: Milland - Neustift - Varhn (Italian: Millan - Novacella - Varna)
- Line 3: Neustift - Seiserleite/Haller - Unterdrittel - Industriezone/Burgfrieden (Italian: Novacella - Seiserleite/Haller - Terzo di Sotto - zona industriale/via Castelliere)
- Line 4: Krankenhaus - Villa Adele - Bahnhof - Köstlan - St. Josef (Italian: Ospedale - Villa Adele - Stazione - Castellano - San Giuseppe)
- 1 Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta (Piazza Duomo). Also known as the Brixen Cathedral. Imposing Baroque style church; it dates back to the thirteenth century and underwent successive restorations due to a number of fires. It is dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta, contains sculpture of the saint by Hans Leinberger from 1520. The ceiling of the nave has a large fresco by Paul Troger portraying the Adoration of the Lamb.
- 2 Palazzo Vescovile (Hofburg). Ancient residence of the Bishop from the time of the bishopric. The building has three floors, and its external facades are pale yellow, with purple ornamentation. The building has mixture of the Renaissance and Baroque architectural styles. Today, it serves as a museum. The palace also houses a permanent exhibition of nativity scenes, which is one of the most important collections of its nature in Europe.
- 3 St. Michael's Church (Pfarrkirche St. Michael). A modest but beautiful gothic church next to the cathedral. The Gothic choir and the bell tower are from the 15th century while the nave is from the 16th.
Outside the city is Rodeneck Castle, one of the most powerful of its time. It has precious frescoes from the early 13th century. Also important are Reifenstein Castle and Trostburg Castle in Waidbruck.
- South Tyrolean bread and strudel market. Bakers from the area display their wares in town late September / early October
- Christmas market. If you happen to be in Brixen in December, don't miss the Christmas market on the square in front of the cathedral
- Plose Ski Area. Part of the Dolomiti Superski Area offers decent slopes during winter and is great for easy hikes in the summer. Connected to the city center by bus and subsequently cable car from San Andreas. Ski Passes are around 50€ per day.
The area is known for wine production, apples and chestnuts[dead link]. There is a wine trail, and a chestnut trail in the area along which one can visit wineries and orchards.
The City Center has many shops located in the traditional "Lauben" - archways. Brixen serves as the commercial center for the surrounding villages and therefore offers some decent shopping opportunities, a surprising number of fashion boutiques, stores offering local specialties, an art gallery and various other shops. The shops of the city center offer joint vouchers that one can pay with or get discounts in participating stores. Sometimes those vouchers are complimentary in hotels.
- Fink. Restaurant and Coffee shop. Closed on Wednesdays.
- Restaurant Krone[dead link]. Part of the Hotel Krone in the City Center. Offers the only Neapolitan Style Pizza in town. Margherita for 9,50€.
- Kutscherhof. Popular Pizzeria. Offers other dishes as well. Quite noisy inside but with plenty space outside during summer. Located in the city center next to the Palazzo Vescovile. Margherita: about 6,50€.
- Traubenwirt. Traditional Restaurant in the city center with local specialties and pizza. Main courses from 22€. Guests of the associated hotel get a discount.
- Finsterwirt. Fine Dining Restaurant with 4 or 5 course meals from around 60€.
Brixen offers a good variety of hotels. Most of which are in the 4 star category. Expect to pay at least 150€ per night for 2 people. Book well in advance for Christmas, Easter, and August, as those are peak season in Brixen. Quite a few hotels tend to close for a few weeks during the low season especially in October/November and in March/April. Brixen has a growing number of airbnb's. Most hotels in Brixen offer the so called "Brixen Card" that comes complimentary with the room. It offers free public transportation, access to the "Acquarena" pools and other events. You can book rooms through the usual websites or through "bookingsuedtirol.com" which is a booking portal dedicated to south tyrol exclusively. It is a advisable to call the hotel directly to double check the rate you found online, as they may be able to offer a better rate or some upgrades if you book through them.
Brixen is centrally located in the province and can serve as a hub to explore nearby villages and mountains. Worthwhile next targets could be the medieval cities of Klausen and Sterzing, to the south and the north respectively. Public transportation enables travelers to head to most parts of the province. For longer-range travel, head to Bolzano for international train connections.