I came across this map of Vienna in 1769 (the city was then capital of the Hapsburg empire), i.e. almost a century after the major siege and battle of 1683 and almost a century before final removal of the city walls. It shows an inner district (perhaps a mile in diameter), surrounded by severe fortifications (the walls not round, but springing back-and-forth), followed by empty terrain perhaps a few hundred meters wide (obviously also an important means of defense), and then by an already dense ring of what may be called the suburbs.

BTW, here is a map of Prague also from 1769 and by the same artist, Joseph Daniel von Huber. This one evidently caused empress Maria Theresa to commission the similarly detailed depiction of Vienna.

My question is this: was this a typical layout for capital cities in the 18th century? E.g. would Paris, or for that matter Istanbul or Beijing have shown a similar overall layout (with local allowances for geography in the shape of rivers, etc.) and with similar maps available?

  • 1
    "Et voici quelques images de Paris ..." :)
    – Drux
    Jan 10, 2013 at 7:31

1 Answer 1


The design in question is from Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban and was typical of an age where gunpowder were used.

  • Fascinating character of an erstwhile military consultant. However, I can find no direct evidence of de Vauban's influence on the shape of e.g. Vienna's fortifications and layout. His works (according to the Wikipedia article) concern French provincial cities, which seems understandable from a national strategic perspective. The (German) Wikipedia mentions a Domenico dell’Allio in relation to Vienna: His was the same trade he is described as influenced by Italian fortification styles. So I am still wondering.
    – Drux
    Jan 10, 2013 at 12:44
  • 1
    The style of fortifications on the Vienna map is almost identical to Vauban's designs. As far as I know, he was the first to come up with that design but of course, was copied numerous times. Jan 10, 2013 at 13:00
  • Hmm ... correlation or causation? BTW, the city walls of Xi'an, China, also look quite amazing ...
    – Drux
    Jan 10, 2013 at 13:09
  • I do not know about correlation or causation. I am not that familiar with that period of architectural history. However, Vauban's principles are sound when faced with gunpowder thus could easily be a case of parallel discovery. Jan 10, 2013 at 13:13

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.