„BERGHOF“ – The breeding ground of Vienna

The longtime Manager of the department for prehistoric and protohistoric archaeology at the Antiquities and Monuments Office, Mrs Hertha Ladenbauer-Orel, presented in 1874 in her book „Der Berghof“ the indications of continous settlement in the Center of Vienna.

The main part of the city was depopulated but in an area near the present „Hoher Markt“ pepole have been living since 2000 years without interruption. In the second world war several houses in the area Marc-Aurel-Straße, Sterngasse, Berghof, Ruprechtsplatz and Judengasse were bombed. During the renovation scientific excavations have been started as from 1962..

By excavating cellars the archaeologists found remnants of Gothic stone houses, which have been built around 1200 after completion of the new city wall. The medieval walls in Sterngasse and Marc-Aurel-Straße have been placed directly on a Roman wall with approximately one meter thickness and built from ashlar rocks of 20x20x30 centimeter. These walls had a height of two floors and a width of only two window axes according to former building regulations. Most probably the ashlar rocks are originated from the bath of the Limeskastell Vindobona founded around 100 AD.

Mrs Ladenbauer-Orel is sure that people have settled down immediately after abandoning the legion castle. Most probably it have been married soldiers who did not follow the appeal of Odoaker to return to Italy. Their descendants extended the settlement over the years and expanded it to a complex of buildings with a dominant castle. This building – knows as „Berghof“ – was located between Hoher Markt, Marc-Aurel-Straße, Sterngasse and Judengasse and formed the urban center of the later city. The castle was inhabited probably by a head of a commercial house. It was also used for a collecting point of grapes from the wine yards. The name „Berghof“ was first found in the „Fürstenbuch“ of Jans der Enikel around 1280.

The livelihood of the inhabitants was probably ensured by a well established market situated in the northeast of the camp. Located between the today’’s Fischerstiege over the Fleischmarkt till Fischhof with an area of 26.000 m2 it provided a vanishing point for the human population during the migration period.  Foreign traders may also have stayed there. Later the area became more and more converted. Before the first phase of the construction there was also a space left for a market church in the during the 14th century so called „Kienmarkt“ area. This is also confirmed by an Austrian archaeologist, Richard Perger. He dates the construction of the Ruprechtskirche, the oldest temple in Vienna, in the era between the Awaren wars of Charlemagne (791-803) and the reorganisation of the ecclesiastical provinces in 828/29.