The ‘Meldmann Plan’: The First Siege of Vienna

One of the oldest topographic maps of Vienna is the so-called “Meldmann-Plan” published by Austrian painter and printer Nicolaus Meldmann which shows a vivid picture of the city during its first siege by the Ottoman army in 1529. The Siege of Vienna in 1529 was the first attempt by the Ottoman Empire to capture the city. Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent of the Ottomans attacked the city with over 100,000 men, while the defenders led by Niklas Graf Salm numbered no more than 21,000. Nevertheless, Vienna was able to survive the siege, which lasted just two weeks.


Shortly after the siege ended, Nicolas Meldmann traveled to Vienna and began looking for visual representations of events when he came up with such a painting with an unknown painter. According to Meldman, the painter climbed to the top of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, and from a vantage position recorded the siege as he saw it. After a long conversation, Meldemann obtained the drawings and made a woodcut based on this template, completing it in 1530. This woodcut, known as the “Meldmann Plan”, is a unique and authentic representation of the first Turkish siege of Vienna.

meldman-plan Stephen in the middle shows a circular image of Vienna surrounded with the Cathedral, which is not topographically accurate, but is more or less emphasized by the importance of the areas shown. Similarly, several events during the siege are shown simultaneously within the image. The buildings are shown minimal while the fortifications are shown in detail. On the outskirts of the city, tents of the Turks are shown, depicting the main battle and the destruction of the suburbs to the west and south. Most of the city is set on fire, while incidents like war torture and executions also find their place.

In 1927 the woodcut, which was printed from six blocks, was acquired at an auction in Leipzig for the Historical Museum of the city of Vienna where it resides.

meldemen plan 1

Description of the Meldman-Plan.

meldemen plan 2

Description of the Meldman-Plan.

meldemen plan 3

Description of the Meldman-Plan.

meldemen plan 4

Description of the Meldman-Plan.

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