Türkenschanzpark, Währing:
One of the few Parks in Vienna

The Türkenschanzpark is one of the biggest parks of Vienna. In my humble opinion, it is one of the few parks that actually deserve being called a "park", and do genuinely like it. The Türkenschanzpark was founded in 1888 on the so-called ĄTürkenschanze" (ĄTurk′s Ditch"), named after a Turkish fortification built in the course of the Second Siege of Vienna in 1683. This is at least the official reason - however, recently historians discovered a drawing of Vienna′s surroundings that used the term "Türkenschanze" as early as 1649. Since then, it is assumed that the name has been given to the area after the First Siege of Vienna of 1529. Until well into the 19th century, the area was used for agriculture and "mining" sand for the construction industries of Vienna.

In the second half of the 19th century, Vienna′s aristocrats discovered the neighbourhood around today′s Türkenschanzpark. They started to build fancy villas in the style of English country-houses, which they called "Cottages" (even though they resemble anything rather than cottages); ever since, the neighbourhood is one of Vienna′s most exclusive and consistently mispronounced as "cott-uh-sh" (French-style). Anyway, the Cottage Viertel was built after 1873 and it transformed the hood from agricultural wilderness into a proper part of Vienna.

1883: Cottage Viertel demands Türkenschanzpark

In 1883, the inhabitants of the Cottage Viertel formed a committee for the foundation of a public park under the chairmanship of Heinrich Ferstel, the famous Ringstraße-architect (he of the Palais Ferstel on the Freyung, among other ugliness). The committee proposed the acquisition of 50,000 square metres of land for their little green scheme - sadly, they couldn′t afford it. Two wealthy businessmen eventually purchased the land and donated it for the good cause of providing rich people with a bit of green.

The City of Vienna - or rather its garden-officer Gustav Sennholz - then administered the construction of an English-style landscape garden. Emperor Franz Joseph I opened the Türkenschanzpark in 1888, many plants had been donated by Princess Pauline of Metternich. Five years later, the city of Vienna had to take over not only the administration, but also the possession of (and with it the responsibility for) the Türkenschanzpark. For the park itself, this was a good thing: In 1910, it was extended, managed by the two Stadtplaner Heinrich Goldemund and the city′s new garden officer Wenzel Hybler.

The former quarries and gravel pits of the sand industry was incorporated into the Türkenschanzpark, and exotic plants were added. With the BOKU (Universität für Bodenkultur) moving in right next to Türkenschanzpark, the botanists of the BOKU contributed input in terms of advice and plants. In the course of the decades, the Türkenschanzpark grew a remarkable collection of plants from all over the world.

Memorials & Landmarks of Türkenschanzpark

In addition to biological delights, there are several memorials in the Türkenschanzpark, including one for the 19th century writer Adalbert Stifter. In 1991, the Turkish embassy donated a fountain in Oriental style. In 1999, an area of 2,500 square metres was dedicated as a sports ground for various trendy ball sports. For the elderly visitors of Türkenschanzpark, the Paulinenwarte would be more of an attraction.

This tower was built for the birth of the Türkenschanzpark, the opening ceremony took place from here. The Paulinenwarte served as a look-out and as a water tower. These days, a water tower is not needed anymore and the look-out function fails due to high trees around the Paulinenwarte. To make things worse, it is in a pretty bad shape and the district tries to raise money for the renovation for years now. It will be renovated in 2009. The Paulinenwarte - now closed for decades - was named after Princess Pauline of Metternich, who contributed to the foundation of the Türkenschanzpark.

Attractions nearby Türkenschanzpark include the BOKU; the Heurigen areas of Grinzing and Nussdorf are not too far, nor is the Pötzleinsdorfer Park and the Geymüller Schlössl with a side-branch of the Museum of Applied Arts.

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Further Reading

City of Vienna on the Türkenschanzpark

German Wikipedia has a fine article on the Türkenschanzpark