Steyr is a city in Upper Austria, after Linz and Wels the third
largest city in the state and the twelfth largest city in Austria.
The statutory city at the confluence of the Enns and Steyr rivers is
the seat of the district authority of the Steyr-Land district.
Numerous stray finds show that the area around Steyr was settled in the earliest times, even if there is no evidence of a prehistoric settlement in the urban area. Around 600 BC BC Celts immigrated and were the first to mine the iron of the Erzberg. The name Steyr comes from the Celtic language (Stiria) and describes the river of the same name. The Greek geographer Klaudios Ptolemaios noted in his "Atlas der Oikumene" (Geographike Hyphegesis) under Noricum a place "Gesodunum", which is localized by scientists from the TU Berlin using transformed ancient coordinates in the "area of Steyr".
The Romans brought the iron, which they called "Noric", to their shield factory in Lauriacum on the old iron road. According to tradition, a Roman watchtower already stood on the rock above the confluence of the Steyr and Enns rivers. This is the name of the Styraburg keep, which is integrated into the Baroque Lamberg Castle, and is still called the Roman Tower today. When it was actually built in the High Middle Ages, blocks from the former Roman legionary camp Lauriacum may have been used, which is how the tower got its name. In 1297, the annals of the St. Florian monastery reported a large treasure find near Steyr ("Maximus Thesaurus"), which is considered to be the first recorded information about archaeological finds in Austria. In the course of the centuries some rather unspectacular small finds were added. The Roman-era settlement Münichholz (KG Hinterberg, Münichholz district) was discovered in the 1990s during the emergency excavation in the course of the construction of the Steyrer Nordspange (B122a); building remains of a homestead were excavated there.
In the 6th century the area was settled by Bavarian tribes and part of the duchy. It later belonged to the clearing area of the Kremsmünster monastery founded by Duke Tassilo in 777. To protect the empire against the Hungarian invasions, two fortified castles were built on the Enns around 900, the Enns Castle and the Styraburg, which was first mentioned in a document in 980. The builders of the castle were the Counts of Wels-Lambach, who owned properties in Traungau and in the Karantanische Mark (Upper Styria).
In 1055 the Otakare, who came from Chiemgau, took over their inheritance under the rule of the Bavarian dukes. The heraldic animal of the Otakare was the white panther. Through inheritances and a clever marriage policy - Otakar II was married to a Babenberger woman - they enlarged their estates in Styria considerably. The Erzberg, whose mining was intensively promoted by the Otakars, was also located here. The position of power of the Otakare was shown in a splendid court holding. The Styraburg was not only the scene of chivalric life, but also a place of cultivation of the noble arts. In the two Middle High German epics Biterolf and Dietleib and King Laurin, Steyr Castle is a literary monument. In 1180 Otakar IV, the last of his line, was elevated to the status of duke by Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa, and the state was separated from Bavaria. In 1186, Otakar IV, ill and childless, bequeathed the Babenbergers to the Babenbergers in a solemn inheritance contract on the Georgenberg in the vicinity of Enns Castle and Steyr - as early as 1170, Steyr was referred to as Urbs 'urban settlement', which is where the town charter was based.
Although Steyr lost its importance as a ducal seat, its role as a processing and trading center for Innerberger Eisen was retained. The “black metal” mined in Innerberg, today's iron ore, made its way through the valley of the Enns to the Danube in the early Middle Ages, creating one of the oldest industrial landscapes in Europe, the Eisenwurzen.
Benefiting from its unique location in terms of transport policy and its importance as a residence among the Otakars, Steyr developed into the economic and cultural center of this early medieval industrial area. Under the Babenbergs, the city rose to become an iron metropolis north of the Alps. Craftsmen, especially arms and armor smiths, had found shelter and living space at the foot of the castle.
After the Babenbergs died out in 1246, hard times began for the city. In the time before the Habsburgs, Steyr was separated from its Mark (Styria, which then fell to Hungary) and thus from its economic base, the Erzberg, and became the land above the Enns under the Bohemian King in 1254 as a result of the Peace of Oven Ottokar II Přemysl defeated.
On August 23, 1287, Duke Albrecht I confirmed the town's old
rights in trading and processing Innerberg iron. In this great
privilege, the citizens of Steyr were granted the right to stack
wood and iron, among other things. These raw materials had to be
offered to the citizens of Steyr at a preferential price for three
days before they were allowed to continue on their way to the
Danube. This made the city and its citizens rich and enabled them to
invite important artists from Germany, Bohemia and Italy to build
and create works of art. Trade relations between Steyr iron traders
and Germany and Eastern Europe have been documented since 1190.
Trade with Venice played a special role. At that time, Steyr was one of those nine Roman-German cities that had their own trading offices in Venice. Steyrer Eisenwaren were coveted articles on the Venice market.
In the 13th and 14th centuries, a large number of Steyrers committed themselves to the Waldensian movement, a Christian lay movement that was branded heretical by the Inquisition. At that time, Steyr was the most important Waldensian town in Austria. Because of this, the city has been visited several times by the Inquisition. Waldensians were discovered here for the first time around 1260, and inquisition courts were then held again in 1311 and around 1370. The most severe persecutions occurred between 1391 and 1398 under the Inquisitor Petrus Zwicker: In 1397 alone, according to the chronicler Preuenhueber, “more than a thousand people were drafted”. In the same year between 80 and 100 people were burned in the heretic cemetery. The Waldensian monument erected in Steyr in 1997 is a reminder of this.
The rapid prosperity of the city in the 14th century encouraged the influx of craftsmen mainly from Nuremberg. In addition to armor makers and blade smiths, it was mainly knives whose guild letter from 1406 is one of the oldest in Austria. The Steyrer Messerer set the tone in the whole of southern Germany. In the middle of the 15th century the city reached its economic height. At that time, Steyr was the wealthiest and most distinguished city in Austria alongside Vienna.
16th to 18th century
The far-reaching and intimate trade relations between Steyr and the most important trading centers in Europe made the residents receptive to new ideas and trends. Preuenhueber writes in the Annales Styrenses that during Advent and Lent, Franciscan brothers from outside preached and heard confessions in the cities. Luther's doctrine, which was disseminated in the city in 1525 by a barefoot named Calixt, was welcomed by the Styrians. Almost in unison, the citizens and craftsmen converted to the new faith. At the beginning of the Counter Reformation there were only 18 Catholic families left in the city. Steyr experienced a cultural heyday during this time and was one of the few cities in Austria in which master singing was cultivated (Meistersinger School approx. 1540-1616), which only fell silent in the turmoil of the Counter Reformation.
At the beginning of July 1572 the most devastating flood to date struck the city. In response to this, the Neutor at the entrance to the green market was built in 1573 as a water protection structure. There are high water marks on the south wall of house no. 4 in Zwischenbrücken (Café Werndl). Accordingly, the flood in 1572 was significantly higher than in 2002.
The first signs of the decline of the iron industry became noticeable: craftsmen complained that iron dealers were selling profitably abroad and that the local industry was left with only second-class goods. In 1583 the iron trading company was founded to put an end to the unfair trade. However, the expectations placed in them were not fulfilled. The outbreak of the Thirty Years 'War, the Counter Reformation and the great Upper Austrian Peasants' War - two of its masterminds were citizens of Steyr - led to the town's economic decline. The pledge of Upper Austria to Baiern in 1620 and the rigorous measures of the Counter-Reformation under Count Herberstorff, which reached their gruesome climax in the Frankenburg dice game, led to the uprising of the peasants in 1626.
The leader of the rebels, Stefan Fadinger, came to Steyr with
40,000 farmers, where he found important allies in city judges
Wolfgang Madlseder and Lazarus Holzmüller. After the uprising was
put down, the ringleaders were beheaded and quartered. The billeting
of troops, the resulting costs, the catastrophic economic situation
and the expulsion order for Protestants issued in 1625 resulted in
the emigration of 228 Steyr families. Many saw their only hope in
emigration. It was Steyr knifers who founded the famous Solingen
steel goods production. This development also had a fatal effect on
the iron being. In 1620 300,000 quintals of steel were waiting for
their customers in Steyr. In order to revive the troubled iron
industry, the Innerberger Main Union was founded in 1625, an
association of wheel masters, hammermen and iron traders to form a
group from which the Alpine Montangesellschaft would later emerge.
From 1625 to around 1630 the historiographer Valentin Preuenhueber worked on the aforementioned Annales Styrenses, the first history of the city of Steyr. However, since Preuenhueber had to leave Austria as a Protestant in 1629, it took more than a hundred years before the work was available in print (Nuremberg 1740).
With the Baroque, the city experienced a new flourishing after the Turkish threat. The wholesale of iron had dried up, but the processing of Styrian iron continued. During this time, some interesting buildings were built in Steyr, such as the Michaelerkirche or the pilgrimage church of Christkindl on the outskirts of the city. During the Josefinic period, which was not only shaped by the abolition of the monastery, an economic upturn was noticeable in Steyr. The conversion of existing craft businesses and the establishment of new workshops laid the foundation for the city's later industrialization.
On August 29, 1727, Steyr was struck by a devastating fire that destroyed not only large parts of the old town, but also the Styraburg with its gables, towers and bay windows. The baroque Lamberg Castle was built on the same site.
During the French wars, the favorable development of the Steyr economy was suddenly interrupted. Within ten years, French troops occupied the city three times: 1800, 1805 and 1809. In today's Löwenapotheke, the armistice between Austria and France was signed on December 25, 1800, followed by the Peace of Lunéville in 1801. Around the revolutionary year of 1848 there were riots and riots in Steyr as well. When the city allowed anti-government hussars to march through on June 6, 1849, this led to serious resentment with the imperial family. As a result, the city tried to limit the damage: The municipal council decided to erect a votive altar in the parish church on the occasion of the emperor's rescue from the assassination attempt in 1853. On September 27, 1857, the imperial couple visited the altar exhibited in the Vienna Minorite Church.
In the late summer of 1855, cholera broke out in and around Steyr. The most prominent fatality was the arms manufacturer Leopold Werndl. His son Josef Werndl founded large-scale industry in Steyr.
As part of the celebrations for the 900th anniversary, Emperor Franz Joseph I visited the city on August 23, 1880. After the reception by honorary officers at the train station at six in the morning, the company drove to the town hall, in front of which a pageant was rolling. Then the trade exhibition, the test workshop and the Werndl arms factory were visited. The citizenship window in the parish church, unveiled in 1893, is dedicated to the imperial visit. In the main picture, St. Dominic receives a rosary from the hand of Mary. The inscription reads: Dedicated by the citizens of Steÿr in memory of the presence of Sr. k. k. Apostolic Majesty Franz Josef I glorified the anniversary celebration in August 1880 of the 900 year existence of the city and the 500 year anniversary of the uniformed citizen corps in Steÿr.
Anton Bruckner often visited Steyr and played the Chrismann organ
in the parish church. From 1884 he spent several summers in the city
and composed parts of the 8th and 9th symphonies, a plaque at the
old rectory commemorates this. Steyr erected the composer's first
monument in 1898 (Brucknerplatz near the parish church). The bust
was made by Victor Tilgner, the base and the other accessories by
Fritz Zerritsch. During the Second World War, the memorial was
removed and re-erected in September 1945. Franz Schubert stayed in
Steyr in 1819, 1823 and 1825. The first two times he lived in the
Stalzerhaus (no. 34), the last time in house no. 16 (Schuberthaus).
Big industry in Steyr emerged
As early as the late Middle Ages, businesses settled in the weir ditch and used the water power of the Steyr. For this purpose, a system of canals was created that has essentially been preserved to this day. In the 18th century, local bourgeois masters began producing sabers, bayonets and rifle components. In 1830 Leopold Werndl finally founded a company in which he produced rifle components with 450 workers. The son, Josef Werndl, took the big step from simple entrepreneur to large industrialist. In a few years he expanded his father's factory into one of the largest and most modern arms factories in the world.
On the occasion of the Electrischen-Landes-Industrie-Forst and cultural-historical exhibition in 1884 (August 2 to September 30), Josef Werndl's OEWG had part of the city temporarily illuminated with electricity. The electrical energy required came from dynamo machines in various objects in the arms factory. What was new about it was that this electricity was not only obtained from steam power, but also from hydropower. A turbine was installed in the former Heindlmühle in Zwischenbrücken, which, coupled with two dynamo machines, generated electricity with 450 volts and 8 amps at an average of 850 revolutions per minute. Werndl built the first efficient run-of-river power plants. On August 19th, Emperor Franz Joseph I visited the exhibition, Crown Prince Rudolf and Crown Princess Stephanie followed on September 19th.
The razing of the medieval fortifications
From 1829 the medieval fortifications were torn down step by step. First, the Steyrtor fell into intermediate bridges. In 1838, Prince Lamberg had the fence wall and the gate blocking the Schlossberg demolished. After a fire caused major damage in the suburbs of Steyrdorf, Bei der Steyr and Wieserfeld in early May 1842, the Schuhbodentor in Schuhbodengasse was dismantled in the same year. In 1843 the Gleinkertor, which was also burned down, followed in the Gleinkergasse and the Brittingertor in the Kirchengasse. In March 1844 the inner Gilgentor at the parish church and the Frauentor in Frauengasse disappeared in 1848. A fort-like fortress gate outside the parish church gave way to a villa in 1846. From 1848 the moat near the parish church was filled and the wall and the Zwinger demolished there. So the Brucknerplatz could be laid out. From the end of May 1848 the Wieserfeld was leveled. The remains of the old Gilgentore have not existed since 1852 and a gate tower in Langen Gasse in Ennsdorf (Haratzmüllerstraße) has been in existence since 1855. From the beginning of 1857 the city wall in the area of today's Ennskai was removed, the mighty Ennstor in Zwischenbrücken in 1864. Josef Werndl left 1870 / 71 fill most of the moat and widen the promenade. The cost was around 8,000 florins. In 1891 the Örtltor fell on Schlüsselhofgasse.
In the 21st century, some remains of the fortification are still preserved, such as the buckle gate, the new gate and the roller gate. Part of the former city wall separates the promenade from Berggasse; the houses in this area are attached to the city wall. At Brucknerplatz, behind the former music school, a short section of the city moat was preserved, which was made accessible to the public in 2007. Below the city parish church and the city parsonage there is a defense tower and another partially preserved section of the city wall up to the Neutor.
Early 20th century
In mid-September 1916, Steyr was the scene of a strike by 6000
workers who wanted to express their dissatisfaction with the
prevailing food shortage. The end of the monarchy resulted in a
reversal of the balance of power. Until 1918,
bourgeois-German-national circles set the tone - with the general
free right to vote, Steyr transformed into a socialist working-class
town. On January 1, 1919, according to the contract of October 8,
1917, today's cadastral community of Gleink was incorporated (the
community existed until 1938, these parts came to Wolfern and
Dietach, respectively). Aichet, Wieserfeld, Bei der Steyr and
Steyrdorf formed the second district of Steyrdorf. According to a
local council resolution of June 21, 1919, Steyr was divided into
the following districts: Stadt, Steyrdorf, Stein, Ort, Ennsdorf.
Between 1926 and 1927 the funeral association “Die Flamme” had the first Upper Austrian crematorium built by the architect Franz Koppelhuber. It opened on June 26, 1927, and at the end of 1939 the city bought it for 115,000 Reichsmarks. The war memorial at the parish church also comes from Koppelhuber.
The economic difficulties of the First Republic hit Steyr particularly hard, and unemployment remained a serious problem until 1938. The global economic crisis of 1929, which hit the Upper Austrian iron industry in particular, worsened the situation: between June 30, 1929 and January 25, 1930, Steyr-Werke, the largest employer, laid off 70% of its workforce. At the end of 1931, around half of the population needed unemployment benefits and other public welfare; at the end of November 1932, 4,359 people were registered as unemployed. The financial situation of the city administration became precarious: Neither the assignment of the city police to the federal government nor the sale of the hospital to the state of Upper Austria could change anything: On October 24, 1931, the community declared bankruptcy. There were always clashes between the home guard and the socialist Schutzbund. The February battles in many Austrian cities also struck Steyr, but the resistance of the forbidden Schutzbund was quickly broken by the military, the federal police and the protective corps. On February 17, 1934, the trials of the rebels began in the district court building. As a result, the city administration remained civil clergy until Austria was annexed in 1938.
On April 1, 1935, the localities Neuschönau, Jägerberg and Ramingsteg from the municipality of St. Ulrich were added. The new cadastral community of Ortisei was formed from the parts of Jägerberg that were not included.
National Socialism and World War II
The most extensive expansions took place in 1938. Following a resolution of October 15, the following areas were added: Münichholz, Hinterberg, Gleink, Grünberg, Stein, Christkindl and Garsten. The housing company of the Reichswerke Hermann Göring built 2500 apartments in Münichholz (Minichholz) and thus moved up a completely new district.
In the Second World War, Steyr suffered heavy damage and losses as an industrial location and thus as a strategic bomber target. The first attack took place on February 23, 1944 by the American Fifteenth Air Force as part of "Big Week". He claimed 15 dead and 55 injured. In the second attack on February 24, 212 people died and 371 were injured. Almost 1000 bombs were dropped on Steyr. 112 buildings were destroyed and around 400 badly damaged.
From 1942 to 1945 the Münichholz district was the location for the Steyr-Münichholz subcamp. Up to 3090 prisoners were housed there, who were used in the Steyr works for armaments production and who had to do forced labor to build roads and air raid shelters in Steyr.
On May 5, 1945, the Americans entered Steyr, and on May 9, Soviet troops from the east followed. They not only freed Steyr from National Socialist rule, but also the numerous forced laborers in the camps around the Hermann-Göring-Werke. Due to the numerous refugees and soldiers, the population rose to 103,000 in May 1945.
postwar period 1945 to 1955
The problems of the city administration after the World War were mainly the removal of the bomb damage as well as the restoration and improvement of the infrastructure. In the long history of the city of Steyr there is no time period that has been able to show such an extensive redesign as this one. Numerous residential and school buildings, baths and sports facilities, educational institutions, district heating plants, the new bridges over Enns and Steyr and several new businesses were built.
History since the 1950s
From 1972 to 1978 there was a bitter dispute between a citizens' initiative and the Steyr municipal administration over the preservation of the historical moat. While the citizens' initiative demanded the preservation of the historic district in accordance with the requirements of a monument, the city of Steyr planned both to fill up the channel and to undertake numerous structural changes. The dispute ended not least thanks to the committed support of the Steyr art professor Heribert Mader and numerous media outlets with a victory for the district's preservers.
In 1979 construction began on the BMW engine factory, which has since become the largest operation in Steyr. In 2004, BMW employed 2,800 people in Steyr. BMW Motoren GmbH Steyr now produces over 1 million engines (4- and 6-cylinder petrol and diesel engines). Around 80% of all BMW brand vehicles are powered by an engine made in Steyr. All diesel units are developed by BMW at the Steyr plant.
In 1980 the city celebrated its 1000th anniversary, on this occasion Lamberg Castle has been restored since 1977 - in 1980 it housed the state exhibition on Hallstatt culture. The multi-day city festival on the city square was originally intended as an event for the 1000th anniversary, but since then it has been reorganized annually in June. The old theater on the Promenade, which closed in the late 1950s, reopened in the fall (see also the Theater section). On June 4, 1980, the Austrian Post published the special postage stamp Thousand Years of Steyr with a copper engraving from 1693. A 500 Schilling commemorative coin was also issued.
From 1988 the division and sale of Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG began. The beginning was made by the Swedish SKF Group, which took over the ailing Steyr rolling bearing plant. On September 12, 1989, the Steyr-Daimler-Puch supervisory board approved the sale of the truck plant to the German MAN group. The German gear factory (ZF) and Frank Stronach's Magna group also bought their way in Steyr.
The Trollmann barracks on Tabor (Rooseveltstrasse), built from 1903 to 1905, was named after the infantry general Ignaz Trollmann von Lovcenberg, who was born in Steyr. Most of the buildings on the barracks area, which was abandoned in 2001, were demolished to make way for a planned shopping center (as of October 2014).
Due to its location on two rivers, the city is often affected by severe flooding, as most recently on June 2, 2013. In the summer of 2002, heavy rain caused a flood of the century: On August 12, 2002, the Enns rose to 1,040 cm and flooded the town square.
In the 21st century
In 2015, Steyr was awarded the honorary title of European Reformation City by the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe.
Upper Austrian Provincial Exhibition 2021: In 2021 Steyr will host the Upper Austrian Provincial Exhibition under the title “Aristocracy, Citizens, Workers”.