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Austrian walled towns

History of walled towns in Austria / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The earliest Austrian walled towns started to appear in the late 11th century to the early 13th century. Their establishment was closely connected with the development of Austria as a march of the Holy Roman Empire and in particular by the Hohenstaufen emperors and their Marcher Lords, the Babenbergs.[1] In present-day Austria, there are 106 towns or cities that were walled.[2] The walls of Radstadt, Freiburg, Hainburg and Drosendorf survive almost intact, and Austria has some of the most impressive walled towns in Europe.[3]

The_Turkish_Siege_of_Vienna.JPG
Painting of the Turkish Siege of Vienna, showing the walls of Vienna.
The Olsator gate and walls overlooking the moat in Friesach. Painting by Markus Pernhart.

Other cities or towns such as Vienna, Salzburg and St Pölten have had their defences almost obliterated. In Austria, the procedure for granting civic status or creating a Stadt was relatively simple. Initially, a local lord or official ministerialis could petition for market rights (Marktrecht), after that, the town would be laid out by a surveyor and it would have been surrounded by an earthen-banked enclosure surmounted with a vertical wooden palisade. Often a stone gatehouse (Tor) would be built for the collection of custom dues from traders coming to the market. When a town was granted a charter or borough rights (Stadtrecht), in most cases, a wall was being built or provision for its construction and financing were included in the charter.[4]