The Battle of 1683: Vienna’s Ottoman Endings and Baroque Beginnings

The Battle of 1683: Vienna’s Ottoman Endings and Baroque Beginnings

The-Battle-of-1683-2The date September 12, 1683 has been etched into the Viennese calendar for over 300 years as the day of the city’s greatest victory over imminent destruction. After a prolonged two month siege by the armies of the Ottoman Empire, the united efforts of several Catholic armies defeated their Eastern foes. This triumph not only inaugurated the definitive defeat of the Ottoman threat in Christian Europe, but was viewed at the time also as proof of the religious superiority of the Catholic Church over the emerging Protestant reformation in Europe.

At the start of our walk, we learn more about the preceding 300 years of regular warfare between the Ottoman Empire and the Christian kingdoms of Central Europe. While visiting the remains of former Viennese bastions, we consider what the city’s topography looked like 350 years ago and learn how the citizens moved into and out of their besieged Vienna by blowing up underground bombs to create temporary tunnels.

The-Battle-of-1683-3Next, we explore Vienna’s iconic baroque style, an aesthetic that started to flourish almost immediately after the intruders had been beaten back. The dramatic and vivid baroque aesthetic that developed in Central Europe around this time is often considered an expression of counterreformation ideology. And, certainly, the gargantuan gorgeousness and dynamism of baroque was intended to flaunt the opulence and power of the Catholic Church as a institution so that Protestants would be reconverted to the “old” faith. Visiting both typical baroque churches as well as secular constructions will help us to get a solid feel for how this architectural ideology translated into both profane and religious contexts.

However, we will also consider that, in Vienna, the Baroque’s explosion of curvilinear and monumental facades and interiors and militaristic sculptural ensembles was also a demonstration of the joy of having beaten the ottomans back. Moreover, with the threat of siege removed, all of sudden the Viennese could, without risk, build outside the city walls. The nobility started to leave the narrow old town and build large summer palaces in the suburbs. The most impressive example is the “Belvedere” built by the famous general Prince Eugene. Therefore, the last stop on our tour will be the garden between his two castles.

The-Battle-of-1683-4As a conclusion, we consider the ironies of history in relation to the struggles between Ottomans and Christian Europe. Paradoxically, just as soon as the actual threat of Turkish invasion was over, “a la turca” became the height of Vienna fashion and remained so well into the 19th century. Coffee houses opened to serve Turkish coffee, “Turkish” bread in shape of a crescent moon became popular, and Mozart produced his “Turkish” opera, The Abduction from the Seraglio (1782).

(This walk can also be ordered as children’s/family tour, where your guide will focus more on the battle between Christian Europe and the Ottoman Empire and the legends and ghosts from this period that are still vividly evident in Vienna’s ruins and architecture.



Ilse Heigerth

Having obtained a Masters degree in Romance languages, and studied ethnology and journalism in the 1990s in Vienna as well, Ilse has served as the editor for numerous well-known Vienna-based writers.  Her interests have always been attracted to history, the arts and literature.  Born and raised in Salzburg, it is not a surprise that she also developed an early affinity for classical music, studying piano at an advanced level in Graz for 2 years.  She worked with the Sigmund Freud Museum for 3 years; and in 2013, after two and a half years of required training and study she became a licensed Austrian tour guide.  Ilse delights in sharing the fascinating history and culture of Vienna and Salzburg on a personal level, while enjoying cultural exchanges with visitors from all over the world.


FelicitasKonecnyFelicitas Konecny

Felicitas Konecny studied architecture in Graz, Naples and Vienna. As a student she organized conferences, co-founded a research group, wrote articles, held seminars and worked freelance at architectural firms. This wide-ranging experience led her to a position as the secretary of the Austrian Society for Architecture (1997-2003). Five times she was a co-curator of the biennial Architecture Days in Vienna, from 2005–2010 she edited a program on architecture for Vienna‘s Community-TV-Channel „Okto“. In 2012, she became a licensed Austrian tour guide. Her tours are mainly focused on the urban development of Vienna from the origins to the present day and architecture in its respective socioeconomic, political, cultural, and aesthetic context. What makes Viennese architecture special to her: the multifaceted interplay of buildings from all ages in this historic city and the prominent role of social/affordable housing as a motor for innovation and a challenge for the best architects. Although an enthusiastic native Viennese, she despises cliches and is happy about visitors with a critical eye.

Gilles Gubelmann

Art brought Gilles to Vienna for the first time, twenty years ago, where he works as a painter and a set designer for opera and theater productions. It was the perfect way, in Gilles’ words, to discover not only Vienna's rich cultural and artistic past as well as the splendors of baroque architecture, but also its soul, its fantastic classical, romantic or contemporary music production. Gilles specializes in guiding travelers through Vienna's history of music, visiting places where famous composers lived and worked or which they frequented. He also helps you discover the great Baroque palaces that crown the city or the hidden beauties of Vienna’s historical center, with its 2000 years of history, including the Viennese Secession, with its pivotal role in the development of modernism in art and culture globally.  

Reinhard Travnicek

Reinhard Travnicek studied literature, cultural science and pedagogy at the Universities of Salzburg, Graz and Vienna. He earned his PhD with a thesis about Henri Michaux and French post-surrealistic literature and art.  His published articles focus on literary criticism and cultural history. Since 1986, Reinhard began to work cultural tourism and cultural pedagogy. As a lecturer at the University of Graz, his main research topics are Italian and European Renaissance, Baroque and the Fin-de-siècle. At present, Reinhard is working on a study about late Italian Renaissance and the Counter Reformation. His research activities have always been very stimulating for his professional work as a cultural guide opening up the great city of Vienna and its history to travelers.

Katharina Ebner

Katharina Ebner was born in Vienna in a family of three generation Viennese. She holds a Master Degree in Art History and Cultural Studies, having studied at the University of Vienna and Rome. During her studies she has was involved in a research project focusing on the photographic representation of post-war Austrians. Since graduating with a thesis on the relationship between sounds and images in film (summa cum laude), she has been working in several fields of art and cultural production in Vienna, Rome and Amsterdam. She worked as program curator for a renowned Vienna Discussion Forum, gave tours through the collections of the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. As an independent art professional she has been involved in several international University projects, as well as writing texts for catalogues and works as an editor. She is closely associated with the Institute of Composition and Experimental Music at the University in Vienna, currently working on a research project on the history of the Institute. She has been giving talks and lectures internationally on the contemporary Viennese Art Scene as well as Film, Sound and Image relationships. Because Katharina shares a strong interest in the historical and contemporary cultural urban space, she also became a licensed tour guide, providing insightful tours through Vienna.  

Katharina Trost

Katharina Trost was born and raised in Vienna and earned an MA in History at the University of Vienna.  She gives a wealth of themed tours of her city, from the classic city tour to imperial history, music history, architecture and art nouveau, palaces, churches and cemeteries. She is well-known for her lively and specialized tours for children, which are interactive and allow kids to solve historical secrets while discovering Austria's capital.  

Gerti Schmidt

Gertraud Schmidt has a linguistics background. She decided to leave a successful career in translation to indulge her passion for history, architecture, art and culture.  After graduating summa cum laude from the two years of study to become a licenced Austria guide, she has become a involved member of the Vienna travel world, representing the Vienna Tourist Guides in the Chamber of Commerce/Association of Businesses in the Leisure Field in Vienna, as a member the Tourist Guide Training Department and as Vice Chair of the Board in the Chamber of Commerce/ Association of Businesses in the  Leisure Field in Vienna. She loves introducing travelers to Vienna’s rich history, its architecture and astonishing art collections. In her free time, she also serves as an expert lay judge at the provincial high court.  


Insight Cities arranges this tour only for private groups with advance notice, at present. Thanks for emailing us at [email protected].

Private Walk (1-6 People) $390
Private Walk (7-10 People) $500


Groups of over 10 should contact us at [email protected] in order to get a special rate for their party.

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