Historical Layers of a City: Roman and Medieval Vienna

Course Description: 

In recent years, the situation with regard to cultural heritage issues in Vienna has become exceedingly complex due to a host of factors: there are the continuing historical and political aspects, the increasing economic possibilities, particularly with regard to tourism and the heritage “business,” and ongoing monument protection concerns.  The development of a hierarchy of heritage sites (world heritage, national heritage, local heritage, etc.) has also produced very contradictionary practices concerning the ownership, institutional control, public control and scholarly research opportunities. Debates and discussions connected to the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Vienna also raised a number of complex questions. Historical perspectives, issues of authenticity, social aspects connected to the interpretation of the past are also relevant for such discussions. The future of the city depends to a large extent on the ways in which its unique culture and cultural heritage is preserved, stimulated and developed in a long-term perspective. Therefore, the course offers an introduction to some of the most important Roman and medieval monuments, heritage sites and related places  in Vienna by doing a „walking seminars” in some areas of Vienna. These walks also focus on the issue of medievalism, historicism. Introduction to these problems will be offered in class seminars. Each seminar will focus on case studies in different parts of the cities and after a short introduction of the given sites we will interpret the given archaeological features, buildings, and heritage sites with the students. Participants will also be confronted with heritage policy issues such as conservation, reconstruction, presentation of heritage sites, and the dissemination of related materials for scholars and the wider public.
Main questions of the course:

•What is the Roman and medieval heritage of modern Vienna?
•To what extent is present the Roman or medieval heritage in the modern urban landscape of Vienna?
•What is the connection between historical processes (medieval and modern) and the presence of medieval heritage in the modern city?
•What are the main methods of learning about Roman and medieval heritage?
•What are the modern approaches to understand the Roman and the medieval heritage of the city (academic research, medievalism, critical heritage approach, etc.)?

Readings and bibliography:
This short course is based on oral presentations and on-site visits. No particular literature is offered for reading, but some publications can be consulted for background information.