The top 25 Vienna Legends, Myths and Rumours: #5 / The City Wall

stubentor.jpg

Thanks to Online City Plan of Vienna

Us Viennese have been so much proud about our famous city walls, constructed in 1200, that Vienna has become one of the last cities in Europe that teared down their city walls in the middle of 19th century!

According to the story, this building was funded by the enormous ransom of 50,000 Silver Marks (about 10 to 12 tons of silver) for Richard I. of England a.k.a. The Lionheart, who was kidnapped during the Third Crusade by Leopold V. the Virtous and arrested in Dürnstein – therefore Leopold has been excommunicated by Pope Celestine III. At the Subway station Stubentor (near the University of Applied Arts) still some residuals of the city walls can be seen today.

The novelist Neal Stephenson also refers to this story and describes our city walls’ historical function especially during the Second Turkish Siege in Quicksilver, Vol. 1 of the Baroque Cycles: In 1529, Vienna was unsucesssfully besieged by the Ottoman Turks and could only barely withstood the attacks – this has showed that new fortrifications were needed. Vienna was expanded to a fortress in 1548 following plans by Hermes Schallauzer. The city was furnished with eleven bastions and surrounded by a moat. A glacis was created around Vienna, a broad strip without any buildings, which allowed defenders to fire freely.

These fortifications proved decisive in the Second Turkish Siege of 1683, as they allowed the city to maintain itself for two months, until the Turkish army was defeated by the army led by the Polish King Jan Sobieski. This was the turning point in the Turkish Wars, as the Ottoman Empire was pushed back more and more during the following decades. In 1858, the fortifications were demolished, and the broad Ringstraße boulevard was built in their place. The Ringstraße Style characterises the architecture of Vienna to this day. (Source)

1 Comment so far

  1. melancolia (unregistered) on March 17th, 2007 @ 11:48 pm

    this reminds me of the movie with Elizabeth Taylor,”Ivahoe.” they always show that on TV.
    I quite knew the story of Richard the Lion-hearted’s capture. But the film portrayed Leopold as really evil.



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