Daily life in front
of the Burgtor

© feld72


The Vienna glacis was part of the city’s fortifications. It was built subsequently to the Turkish siege of Vienna in 1529 and separates the bastions enclosing the city centre from Vienna’s suburbs. Providing a free field of fire, no objects were allowed to be built on it. As a consequence, this area of open ground was notorious for its windiness, and unpaved and dusty paths, which turned into impassable mud fields when it rained. At the end of the 18th century, Emperor Joseph II had this inhospitable area greened. From then on, Vienna’s population would go for walks and spend their leisure time there. Particularly at night, it was a popular place for dating. After the demolition of the bastion and the construction of Ringstraße, which opened on May 1st 1865, the glacis disappeared from the lives of the Viennese population.

If the glacis is to give way to new buildings, what is to be done with all of them?

Figaro, 28th August 1858

If we are to cover the glacis area with houses, tell me where will the green areas for children to play or for nurses and their admiring warriors to stroll go? Where will the boys work off their exhaustion with their fists after long hours of erudition at school?

Ost-Deutsche Post, 3rd January 1858


Chaos on the streets across the glacis

Kikeriki, 28th November 1861


Mud management at the glacis. After the last rains transformed the glacis area into a field of mud, the municipality administration plans to install a commission and have it not only carry out preliminary commissional examinations, but most of all save and supply with food those who have got stuck there as well as strollers who happen to be in need of help for other reasons.

Kikeriki, 20th February 1862


Vienna – prior to its face-lift [the green areas of the glacis prior to tearing down the bastion]
Vienna – after its face-lift [newly inaugurated Ringstraße after tearing down the bastion]

Figaro, 28th August 1858


(…) and in the evenings, unhappy factory girls of tender age – at times even children – would stand at the glacises or at the moat and offer their services for just a few pennies. (…) Also, night-time attacks and thefts at were reported to take place at the glacises nearly every day.

Ernst Violand, Die sociale Geschichte der Revolution in Österreich, 1850


If you don’t have any clean beds at your houses or if bedbugs are troubling you, you may come and pitch camp at the bastion for this month. It is a relief to camp in the open air during those sultry summer nights. Let me assure you that even the best-behaved gentlemen will spend their nights at the bastion from time to time.

Joseph Richter, Taschenbuch der Grabennymphen auf das Jahr 1787, 1787