A monument of Polish king Jan III Sobieski has been placed on a platform trailer in front of the Papal Window in Kraków.
The monument has been put on temporary display to remind people of its existence after authorities in Vienna withdrew from a long-term plan to erect it on Kahlenberg hill in Vienna, from where the Polish king launched his history-changing attack 336 years ago.
The monument depicts Sobieski as the head of a column of hussars as he routed the Ottoman army at the Siege of Vienna in 1683, a battle that put a check on the Ottomans’ further advances into Europe. Jacek Bednarczyk/PAP
The monument depicts Sobieski as the head of a column of hussars as he routed the Ottoman army at the Siege of Vienna in 1683, a battle that put a check on the Ottomans’ further advances into Europe.
Up to now, thirteen attempts have been made to erect a monument in Vienna in honour of the Polish king who relieved the siege of the city. This latest attempt looked set to be successful.
The Siege of Vienna marked the beginning of the end of Turkish domination in eastern Europe after they were defeated by a combined force led by King John III Sobieski. Public domain
The foundation stone for the monument in Vienna was laid six years ago on the 330th anniversary of the battle. The unveiling of the monument was planned for 12 September 2018 on the 335th anniversary of the relief of Vienna.
However, last July, the new mayor of Vienna, Michael Ludwig, announced that he was withdrawing from the project.
Fearing that the monument may be perceived as anti-Turkish, Vienna mayor Michael Ludwig said that it was not an appropriate time to erect military monuments. Bwag/Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license
Piotr Zapart, initiator of the project and chairman of the monument’s organising committee said in an interview with radio station RMF FM, “We had all the agreements in place; the cooperation with Vienna, as well as with Kraków was great; there was a signed agreement between the Mayor of the Kraków, Jacek Majchrowski, and the Mayor of Vienna, Michael Häupel.
“On 11 July, President Jacek Majchrowski and I were invited to meet the new mayor Michael Ludwig. And there we were told that a new committee had said that the monument did not meet the artistic standards, was archaic and therefore Vienna withdrew its consent.”
The monument’s creator Czesław Dźwigaj said that the eight-metre long work weighing three tonnes featuring Sobieski on a horse does not feature any Turkish or Islamic symbols. Jacek Bednarczyk/PAP
In its letter to the organising committee, the authorities in Vienna, fearing that the monument may be perceived as anti-Turkish, stated that it was not an appropriate time to erect military monuments.
The monument’s creator Czesław Dźwigaj said that the eight-metre long work weighing three tonnes featuring Sobieski on a horse does not feature any Turkish or Islamic symbols.
He also pointed out that in Vienna there are two monuments of Crimean Tartars who took part in the relief of Vienna and fought alongside Sobieski.
Jan III Sobieski was King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1674 until his death, and one of the most notable monarchs of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Jacek Bednarczyk/PAP
In the place where the monument was to be erected, everything is ready. The pedestal is already there and the area around it has been cobblestoned. On both sides of the pedestal there was to be an inscription in Polish and German ‘King of Poland Jan III Sobieski’ with the date of the battle.
The monument’s placement on a platform trailer normally used to haul broken-down cars symbolises that it is still on the road to its final destination in the Austrian capital.
There have so far been 13 attempt to erect the monument in Vienna in honour of the Polish king who relieved the siege of the city. Jacek Bednarczyk/PAP
It will stand in Kraków for a maximum of two weeks according to local authorities in the city. Later, it will move on to Nowy Sącz, Brzeg and Nysa, places that are connected with the life of the king, and possibly to Warsaw, where it would stand in front of the Royal Castle.
Zapart is determined that the monument will stand in Vienna: “Neither before nor now have we considered any other final location of the monument than Vienna. We believe that the worthiest place for the king is the Vienna Kahlenberg,” he said.
I don't see anything terrible in reminding Turks that they were occupying force for many years and they stay this way even today. This monument is very dynamic, a different style compared to the previous ones. Still, I am glad they were able to construct it finally
I must say from a simple observation of the monument, although with out negative reflection toward others, but, that thing is the most ugly thing to build and display in most any public view..
But then, there is the saying that perhaps reflects a truth, beauty is to the beholder.
In a way I have to agree with you, Karl, the statue looks a bit like a destroyed battleship, all angles and modern components, implying power, battle and energy. At the same time that is the strength of the statue.
I think I would have to see it in person to pass a final judgement. I have been surprised in the past by the 'presence' of artwork that otherwise would not appeal.
The statue has the heroic 19th and early 20th century style of statues when absolutist monarchies, or Nationalist or Patriotic attitudes were still strong in Europe linked to colonialism, monarchies, various wars (The Polish-Russian War of 1792, the The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815), the First Schleswig War of 1848 – 1852, the January Uprising (Polish: powstanie styczniowe) of 1863 – 1864, the Second Schleswig War of 1864, the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871, and the First World War 1914-1918 and colonial wars in the 19th and 20th centuries). Europe stands full of heroic and quite pompous statues of Monarchs, generals, admirals, and governers.
First World War monument in Bastogne, Belgium
The National Leie monument in the Belgian city of Kortrijk commemorates the Leyslag of 1940, in which the Belgian army and its commander-in-chief Leopold III tried in vain to stop the German advance, at the expense of 3,000 killed.
Monument Dutch East Indies in a park at the Olympia square at the Apollolane in Amsterdam-South.
A Van Heutsz monument at the Bronbeek colonial military museum in Arnhem. Joannes Benedictus van Heutsz (3 February 1851 – 11 July 1924) was a Dutch military officer who was appointed governor general of the Dutch East Indies in 1904. He had become famous years before by bringing to an end to the long Aceh War.
Soviet War Memorial (Tiergarten) Berlin, Germany
The Warsaw rising monument in Warsaw
The Ghetto Heroes Monument (Polish: pomnik Bohaterów Getta) is a monument in Warsaw, Poland, commemorating the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943 during the Second World War.
I agree that this statue looks a bit over-dramatic. It has this strange mix of aggression and violence, maybe unnecessary. It would be better to have somethings simpler, and less 'heroic" as Pieter said.