previous next

VINDOBONA (Vienna) Austria.

The name is Celtic and its meaning uncertain. Possibly it was taken over from a Celtic settlement on the Leopoldsberg. The name occurs for the first time in Ptolemy (Geog. 2.14.3), in the Peutinger Table (5.1, where it is misspelled as Vindomana), twice in the Notitia Dignitatum (34.25;28), and also in the reports on the death of Marcus Aurelius (Aur. Vict. Caes. 16.14; Epit. de Caes. 16.12). Vindobona was on the Danube and the limes road, at the E edge of the Wiener Wald, i.e. the E Alps. At the termination of the W branch of the Amber road, it belonged in Roman times to the province of Pannonia Superior, near the Noricum-Pannonia border. Owing to its location, Vindobona controlled the Vienna basin and the Marchfeld. At the same time it provided, as a military base, effective flank protection for the legionary camp Carnuntum (40 km downstream) in case of an outflanking maneuver from the W. The Vindobona area had been fortified relatively early, probably in the first half of the 1st c. A.D. Possibly a castellum for cavalry had existed here since the time of Domitian (Ala I milliaria Britannica). The legionary camp was not constructed until about A.D. 100 by the Thirteenth Legion. This unit was replaced by the Fourteenth Legion, which continued the construction work. From A.D. 115 until the end of Roman rule the Tenth Legion was stationed here. Vindobona suffered during the wars with the Marcomanni, as indicated by traces of destruction and reconstruction. It may have been at Vindobona that Marcus Aurelius died in A.D. 180. Otherwise it was little known, overshadowed by Carnuntum, the more important fortification on the Danube. Correspondingly, as indicated by finds, the standard of living was more modest. It is uncertain when Vindobona became a municipium; this elevation seems to have taken place at the beginning of the 3d c. A.D.

Our knowledge of Vindobona is very fragmentary since it is impossible to conduct systematic and extensive excavations. The plan of the camp is still partly recognizable in the modern street plan. It was located on the plateau of the Hohe Markt, and protected on the N from the Danube by a dike (12-15 m high). It was similarly protected on the W and E by steep dikes and was surrounded on all sides by flowing water. Of the circumference the porta principalis sinistra is known, also the porta decumana, three intermediate towers, and parts of the wall (2-3 m thick) with a trench. A simple gate without towers led to the military harbor at the N. Hardly a building in the interior can be identified, although the general plan is basically recognizable. The area was divided by the via principalis, ca. 20 m wide, lined on both sides by porticos, the via praetoria, and the via decumana. Also known are the location of the principia at the S side of the main camp road, the so-called palace of the legate nearby, military barracks on both sides of the via decumana, N of the main road six houses for tribunes, the camp's hospital (valetudinariuin), and the legionary baths. In general, two building periods can be ascertained: the camp was rebuilt after destruction around the end of the 4th c. A.D. Repairs were made for the last time under Valentinian. Extensive necropoleis are found along all the roads leading out; nearby to the W were probably the canabae, farther on the legionary brick works. The civilian town was located SE of the camp, its confines marked by the Wienfluss, today's Danube canal, and the arsenal. Its center may have been at the Aspang railway station where the forum is also supposed to have been. It is, however, impossible to gain an over-all understanding of the site despite the numerous finds. No amphitheater has been found, but an aqueduct coming from the Wiener Wald has been identified.

The end of Vindobona came with the collapse of Roman rule in Pannonia in the 5th c. A.D. Shortly before its decline, the Danube fleet stationed at Carnuntum was transferred to Vindobona. A small residual town survived; the mediaeval town grew out of the Roman camp, not the civilian town.

Finds from Vindobona are in the Historisches Museum der Stadt Wien and in the Kunsthistorisches Museum; preserved fragments of buildings are in the Römische Ruinenstätte auf dem Hohen Markt, and in the Feuerwehrzentrale Am Hof.


A. Neumann, “Vindobona,” RE IX A 1 (1961) 53ffMP; id., Der Raum von Wien in ur- und frühgeschichtlicher Zeit (1961)MPI; id., Vindobona, Die römische Vergangenheit Wiens (1972)MPI.


hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: