vienna history review – ancient Vienna


The historical desteny which gone along with Vienna began in the verry beginning of the towns history. Viennas position on the borderline of two sphere of influences. An one hand it were a blessing because it brougth economic benefits for the people but on the other hand they faced also great dangers. in the aincent history the danube river were the border of the roman empire and the germanic tribes which the romans could not conquer.

Vindobona – the aincent Vienna

Long time before the romans absorbed the southern realm of the danube in our spheres they had an economic partnerships with the celts.  Arround Jesus birth the romans absorbed great realms in the north. The adopted sons of Emporer Augustus, Tiberius and Drusus led this campaign with around 40.0000 legionaire. They occupied important landmarks like mountain passes, river passages and other points in the area of Rhine and the upper part of the danube.

In that time the land around Vienna were coverd from a giant primeval forrest. The danube had many sidearmes. On the Leopoldsberg were a village. In the sourrundings a celtic trirbe lived on the southside of the river in small villages.  On the northside a germanic tribe settled. The romans used many times flat riverboats to transfer their troups. A small Kastell on a platau above the danube were maybe built at this time. A larger were built around 40-50 A.D when Claudius ruled.  The Kastell were a part of the Limes a long fortresswall which secured later the border.


As  usual the romans built streets and other infrastruktur after a certain time. Quickliy a urban realm around the Kastell developed. Sometimes veterans married a native woman and they built a family theire. Normally the Legions stood for a long time at the same Kastell and came after a campaign back.  Around Vienna some tombstones where found which show that veterans were burried their. The romans knew well how to live good. One  secret of the roman strategy were to integrate the provinces and to give them a high standard of living with a good water supply, a harbour, a puclic bath, and a theatre. In the case of vienna it worked quiet well. In other parts of the empire like in britain it did not, because the provinceruler were brutal and greedy and the local triebes revolted like the famous Queen Boudicca.

Like all cities in the empire the city had a Forum and a Temple district with different . About 30.000 people lived in Vindobona at the height.  We can imagine streets with shops in the ground floor and in the first floor the living rooms around the forum. There were bakeries, shops for vetgetables and fruits, shops for all kind of luxury goods like Jewelery, shops for dishes. You can also find import and export companies, all kind of  handicraft stores. Outside of the city are manors, farms. Along the vienna river are mills. Under the romans the winegrowing was cultivated arround Vindobona.  Vindobona was next to the famous amerstreet to eastsee. The live pulsed in the city and on the streets, also because of Carnuntum which was a metropolis with around 100. 000 citizen.




Through the time the romans build a streetsystem  in Noricum and Pannonia. From Aquelia the Via Iulia Augusta led over teh Plökenpass into the Drauvally where the street split one direction went to Agnuntum the other into the north.  The Limes along the danube in Noricum were connectet through a street which led until Carnuntum. In Vindobona where the Street connectet with the Kastell, on high Votivchurch the Street splited, one direction went to the Kastell the other direction into todays Ottakring and Döbling where the graveyard for soldieres and a brick factory were.  On height Michaelaplatz  a street went into direction Scarbantia (Sopron).   The connection between Kastell and civiltown went between the porta principalis dextra (eastgate) over the vienna river. Beside the mainroads was numerous small ways and  small streets into the outland.

Vindobona was also a hotspot of the empire. Romans and germans faced their eye to eye. Emporer Marc Aurel stood some times in vindobona and led the military campaign against the Quadi and Marcomanni. In that time Vindobona and other parts of the Provinces Noricum and Pannonia were hardly damaged. Aurel fought back. A complete win he could not reach because he died.  His son Commudus made peace. The battlescene from the movie „the Gladiator“ showes the battle in that war.  The problems with the germans did not end after the war. At the beginning of the 3rd century again the germans attaked the provices Noricum and the eastern part of pannonia. Somehow the following emperors could stabilized the border. At the beginning of the 4th century the slow declin of the empire began.

Beside the wars with german tribes the live in the provinces like Noricum and Pannonia continued usually stable. At around 200 ac this changed in that times the time of the Soldier-emporer began and the emperors came among the army. They became ruler with the help of their troups. Among this emperors Septimus Servus was maybe one of the most successful. With the help of the troups in Noricum and Pannonia he won the power struggle against his competitors and became roman emporer.

Next to Vindobona (ca. 40 km)  in direction east were the city of Carnuntum (today Petronell)  the capital of Pannonia Superior. Many of the largest cities in Austria have their root in the roman empire. Salzburg – Iuvavum, Linz – Lentia, Brigantum – Bregenz, St. Pölten – Cetium, Wels – Ovilava.