A casemate (French casematte, from mittelgr. χάσμα chásma "column", "earth", "earth gap" via Italian casamatta "wall vault") is a vault protected from artillery fire in fortress construction. Due to their good state of preservation, the casemates in Wiener Neustadt are unique in Austria and are under monument protection.

From the time it was founded, Wiener Neustadt has played a pioneering role in city fortification technology in German-speaking countries. The construction of the casemates represents an end point in this development that has lasted for centuries. The well-developed city wall with its Zwinger wall in front of it no longer offered sufficient protection due to the emergence of firearms in the late 15th century. The threat of the Turks made it necessary to reinforce the city wall with bastions, barbicans and outworks. The lack of accommodation for soldiers, ammunition and weapons led to an expansion program during the reign of Ferdinand I in the 16th century. The imperial arsenal opposite the castle, the bourgeois arsenal and the casemates can be viewed as a coherent structure, as all three buildings have more or were less connected to each other via the Zwinger corridor.

Between 1551 and 1557, the south-west corner of the city fortifications was massively expanded according to the plans of master builder Johann Tscherte. On the one hand, unique underground vaults were built, which served as storage space for ammunition and guns. The guns stored there could be pulled into the gun yards via the so-called Strada Coperta, a "vaulted street". The gun yards are part of the bastions, which were built on the Italian model. Since the construction was expensive, this construction project could not be carried out entirely in stone. The rest of the huge complex was filled up with earth. In hindsight, this turned out to be very useful, as the earth was better able to absorb the shock of impacting cannonballs.

A stone wall will collapse if you shoot at it long enough. When the storage space for weapons and ammunition was no longer needed, the casemates were used for other purposes. The ensemble was used as a beer store in the 19th century. In order to create a better indoor climate, the ground was excavated and the Renaissance-era foundations and fortifications from the time the city was founded around 1200 became visible.

From the 20th century to the end of the 1970s, the casemates were firmly anchored in the public consciousness as the location of legendary jazz and festival events. After they closed, they fell into a decade-long "sleeping beauty".

They were only brought back to life with the start of construction for the revitalization in the course of the Lower Austrian State Exhibition 2019. With the Welcome Center and the New Bastion, the architectural office Bevk Perović from Ljubljana did not create a counterpoint to the casemates, but rather an extension of the existing structure.

From the medieval fortification to the event location

Well-preserved building stages from the 13th to the 19th century make the Wiener Neustadt casemates a cultural and historical feature of European importance. In the Middle Ages, our city was one of the most heavily fortified cities in Europe. The fortified complex with a tower-reinforced city wall, four city gates and an upstream moat protected the people.

As part of the Lower Austrian state exhibition "World in Motion" 2019, it was possible to revitalize this jewel and make it accessible to a broad public. For this purpose, historical building studies were carried out on the city wall and the casemates. The results clearly showed that the plant in Wiener Neustadt is unique in Austria.

Well-known archaeologists were also able to uncover large parts of a "Zwinger Wall", which was placed in front of the city wall as further protection from the 13th century. The goal was always not only to revitalize the casemates, but to embed them in an overall concept.

For this reason, an architect and general planner competition was launched for the redesign under the direction of Univ.Prof. Arch. DI András Palffy. A total of 54 projects were submitted, 10 of them from abroad. The architects' office Bevk Perović from Ljubljana emerged as the winner, which, with the Welcome Center and the New Bastion, did not create a counterpoint to the casemates, but rather produced an extension of the existing structure.

The different elements were connected to each other and opened up to the city and the city park. The casemates were used as a common structure, bringing all aspects of the new program into a seamless whole.

Today, the Welcome Center, the Neue Bastei and the adjoining café shape the character of the place. Together with the ensemble of the old, historic casemates, the New Bastion offers the ideal location for congresses, events, weddings and cultural events.

Virtual Tour

Architecture prize for the revitalization of the casemates

Since the revitalization for the Lower Austrian state exhibition "World in Motion", the historic casemates in Wiener Neustadt have shone in a completely new splendor.

The Slovenian architectural office bevk perovic received the renowned "Piranesi Award" for this. The project "Kasematten und Neue Bastei" stood out from a total of 47 nominated projects and was able to clearly convince the international jury with jurors from Belgium, Italy, Spain, Austria, Great Britain, Serbia and Slovenia.

Picture (from left to right):
City planning director Manfred Korzil, Johannes Paar (architectural office pevk perovic), architect Matija Bevk, mayor Klaus Schneeberger and city councilor for culture and tourism Franz Piribauer. Photo: City of Wiener Neustadt/Pürer


Kasematten Wiener Neustadt
Bahngasse 27
A-2700 Wiener Neustadt