Join us for a visit to see some medieval frescos at the Neidhard Festsaal. Found by accident in the 1970's, they are yet another well kept Viennese secret.
Vienna and its museum scene were taken aback in 1979 when workers restoring a medieval building in Tuchlauben 19 found the oldest secular wall paintings in Austria.
The building dates back to the 13th century and the wall paintings provide an insight into the life of the wealthy family. The main painting is over 15 meters long and extends across the entire room but had been covered by several layers of paint over the centuries.
The frescos were found in perfect state although they had been painted about 1407 when a rich cloth merchant Michel Menschein’s private dance and banquet hall was constructed. Menschein seems to have wanted to bring nature into his own four walls as the amusements and games on the walls are depicted with scenes from all seasons, with the crude pastimes of the farmers being contrasted with those of the noble courtly youth.
The images represent lively songs of composer Neidhart von Reuenthal (1180-1240) singing about love and feasts but also about tensions between the societal layers in the times of massive social changes. Neidhart’s traditional songs remain alive and found a new life about a hundred years later when a certain Neidhart Fuchs expanded the repertoire and brought it to the Habsburg court.
Neidhard was one of the most famous German-speaking poets and minstrels of the Middle Ages. Originally from Bavaria, he spent his later years in Lower Austria singing about places in Tullnerfeld and the Vienna Woods in some of his songs. His tomb is still visible at the south side of the Stephansdom. Neidhart's plays remained popular well into the 15th century when the wall paintings were created and it is highly likely that they served as their inspiration.
The bustling figures are now on show together with a new permanent exhibit allowing interesting insights into everyday life in medieval Vienna, including not only music and dance but also fashion and food, not to mention the history of the building itself.
The museum is in the first floor with original medieval staircase but there is a new lift in the inner yard allowing full access although its use requires a key. When you arrive, let the staff know via the intercom at the entrance of the building.
There is a small museum shop at the ticket counter.
Given the size of the one-room museum, there is no loo neither café in the building but you will find an ample choice of places to go after your museum visit in the inner centre around the museum.
If you are truly into the medieval times in Vienna, consider visiting two other highly interesting museums that have been similar surprises to the historians: the Virgilkapelle at the Stephansplatz U-Bahn station where it was found accidentally when the U-Bahn was being built or the the Römermuseum to see how the 6000 Romans lived in Vindobona, as Vienna was known some 2000 years ago.
Tuchlauben 19, 1010 Vienna