on the Hofburg premises
Being an imminent threat to Vienna for three centuries, the danger of another attack by the Ottoman Empire deeply influenced the architecture of the Hofburg Vienna. After the Turks had been besieged for the first time in 1529, mostly thanks to the early arrival of the winter season, the old medieval city wall was replaced by a new cutting-edge fortification.
Over the course of the second siege in 1683, the Hofburg and the part of the bastion that was situated in front of the Palace constituted their main targets. It was not before potential dangers had faded that the Palace and the city experienced a generous expansion and received its baroque finish. Its fortifications would not only shape the picture of Vienna until very far into the 19th century, but also the perception of “Vienna as a fortress” became engraved in its inhabitants’ mentality. The myth of defending the Occident was made use of by the Habsburg dynasty even after the Turks had been besieged. Both realms continued to uphold their concepts of their respective enemy.
Even though the Ottoman Empire had presented an existential threat to the monarchy for a long time, the Turkish culture also was a source for new knowledge and innovation for the Habsburg Empire. Diplomats, scientists and traders introduced treatises of science, and botanical gems such as horse chestnuts and lilacs as well as doves, divans, the coffeehouse culture and the “Strudel” to Vienna.
The areas of the bastion situated directly in front of the Hofburg Vienna, which is at about where Heldenplatz and the Volksgarten are situated today, were the main sight of Ottoman occupation as of 1529 and 1683. The Ottoman Army had dug mining tunnels in which numerous aggressors and defenders should die.
Numerous objects from Antiquity that were found in the course of excavations in Western Turkey constitute the heart of the treasures presented in the Ephesos Museum. The latter belongs to the Kunsthistorisches Museum and is situated in the new wing of the Hofburg Vienna.
Spanish Riding School
The martial custom of impaling models of Turks’ heads constituted an integral part of imperial festivities which took place in the Winter Riding School in the 18th century and were also referred to as “carousels”.
In commemoration of the legendary commander fighting the Ottoman Empire, the memorial of Prince Eugene of Savoy was erected in 1865 on Äußerer Burgplatz (since 1878 Heldenplatz).
A gilded laurel branch honouring Sultan Mehmed V, which is situated in the middle of the castle gate as viewed from Ringstraße, reminds of the alliance between the Habsburgs and the Ottoman realm in WW I.
St. Michael’s Gate
St. Michael’s Gate in the Hofburg Vienna is deemed to be an imitation of Istanbul’s “Sublime Porte”.
Austrian National Library
The Manuscript Collection of the Austrian National Library on Josefsplatz contains numerous Ottoman scripts.
In the 16th century, hyacinths, lilacs and tulips were planted in Europe for the first time. Having been introduced in Europe by Ogier Ghislain de Busbecq’s delegation, which had brought them from Turkey, they would blossom in the former Paradeisgartl – a park on top of the city wall that used to stand on Michaelerplatz.
Commemorations of the end of Ottoman occupation in 1683 have been celebrated around the Prince Eugene memorial (e.g. in 1895, in 1933 and in 1983).