In a city as old as Vienna, there are bound to be some tales about its history that, let’s say, may not be completely factually accurate. But the legends of Vienna are still an important part of our culture and many of them are connected to events in our history, such as…
...being besieged by the army of the Ottomans (especially the second time)
The situation during the second siege of Vienna was growing pretty grim in 1683, as food supplies were narrowing and the morale in the city was running low. It was clear that the city couldn’t be held for much longer and there was no news of relief from the rest of the empire. However, during one stormy night in that August, a salesman named Georg Franz Kolschitzky who had previously traveled east and knew the Turkish culture and language offered to leave the city in an attempt to alarm the emperor. When he was caught in the Ottoman camp he managed to convince them that he was simply a salesman, concerned with food supplies for the army and was let go. He returned several days later with news of imperial, Venetian and Polish forces gathering nearby, thus lifting the spirits of the Viennese people.
The Ottomans were later defeated by those forces and driven back, but the cultural significance of the battle was enormous: Viennese bakers invented the Kipferl, more commonly known as croissant (which was later brought to France by Marie-Antoinette, but that’s a different tale) in reference to the crescents on the Ottoman flags and, after finding several bags of coffee-beans in the Ottoman camps, Kolschitzky (at least according to legend) was given the permission to open the first coffee house in Vienna, thus beginning the tradition of Viennese coffee - we owe you one, Kolschitzky!