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.

ProkschChristine Proksch holds a BA in Cultural Journalism and a MA in Comparative Literature from the University of Copenhagen. She finished with a Master about the Austrian writer Arthur Schnitzler. In order to dig deeper into her favourite topic, Austrian Literature around 1900, she studied German and Comparative Literature at the University of Vienna and fell deeply in love with the city and the vast cultural landscape. Since 1998 she has lived permanently in the city.. Today she mainly works as a cultural journalist reporting to Danish Medias about the cultural life in Central Europe. She has also written the most sold Vienna guide and guide to Austria in Denmark.
SmithNicholas Smith is an American who moved his life to Vienna after marrying an Austrian. He is in the last year of completing his MA in Journalism from Columbia University in New York City while also freelancing writing articles on Vienna history, arts and culture for The Vienna Review (the largest and most distinguished English language newspaper in Austria).
OconnorStephen O’Connor earned his PhD in Military History at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. He is passionate about recounting the many ferocious battles waged over Vienna from Roman times through the Ottomon Threat, Napoleon, the Hapsburgs, and of course, the global wars of the 20th century. In fact, he is as passionate as most Irishmen are deemed to be at recounting a good tale of any kind, but particularly those that have to do with the fascinating history, arts and culture of the Vienna he moved to and fell in love with along with the Austrian who he married there. He presently works as a teacher of English for Viennese professionals.


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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