Siege Of Vienna

Sultan Suleiman Enters Vienna History

Siege of Vienna: Turkish objects at Wien Museum

The Siege of Vienna was a turning point in Vienna’s history. I have put together a primer on what happened below.

The Siege of Vienna took place when Sultan Suleiman (Süleyman) I The Magnificent wanted to crown the expansion of his Ottoman Empire by conquering Vienna. The city was known as the Golden Apple with the Turks. At that time, Vienna was one of the most significant cities in Europe. Suleiman and his troups besieged Vienna for three weeks in September and October of 1529.

Vienna Besieged For Three Weeks

Many Viennese civilians and members of the Municipality fled the city, while the mayor and a few municipal officials held the fort, supported by the troups of the Holy Roman Empire. The Turkish troups by far outnumbered the Austrians and blew several breaches into the old city wall, which has been largely replaced by today’s Ringstrasse Vienna. One exception is the Augustine Bastion inside the Ringstrasse which was used as a fortification. (You will see the bastion when you visit the Albertina Vienna museum which has been built on top.) Like the Mölkerbastei, it is one of the last preserved elements of the old city wall.

Siege of ViennaThe tower of Stephansdom (St. Stephen’s Cathedral) was used to monitor the movements of the Turkish Army.

Despite their vast number, Sultan Suleiman had to call back his men in mid October 1529 due to bad weather and insufficient supplies.

Three years later, he made another attempt to conquer Vienna but this time, the Viennese and the Holy Roman Empire were top prepared: The city wall had been refurbished and was now state of the art. The inner city (now the historic city centre) had been fortified with bastions and a ditch (Graben in German, which now marks the luxury shopping boulevard leading from Kärntnerstrasse to Kohlmarkt). Outside of these walls, the free space needed was called Glacis, which now forms the Ring boulevard (Ringstrasse).

If you visit Vienna, go to Vienna Museum (Wien Museum), which dedicates an exhibition room to the Turks in Vienna.

Siege of Vienna: Further Reading

The two best books on the Siege of Vienna among the few English language books available on this subject are: Siege of Vienna. The Last Great Trial Between Cross and Cresecent (John Stoye) and The Enemy at the Gate: Habsburgs, Ottomans and the Battle for Europe (Andrew Wheatcroft).