Spinnerin am Kreuz, Vienna
Gothic Shrine & Piety Column

The Spinnerin am Kreuz is a Gothic shrine or Bildstock, a feature once common to towns and cities in Eastern Austria, but know rather unusual. You find the "Spinnerin am Kreuz", Vienna′s most famous Bildstock, right next to the hyper-modern office towers of the Wienerberg in the 10th district or Favoriten. Most "visitors" are commuters who drive by and do not stop, which is a mistake - the opportunities to see an authentic Bildstock are rare these days (for the next one you have to go to the monastery of Klosterneuburg).

There is a very famous legend that tells the story of the Spinnerin am Kreuz as such: The wife of a merchant, who had left to participate in a crusade, came to this site every day to sit by a cross and work with her spinning wheel and wait for the husband′s return. She prayed a lot for her husband and promised to use the money she earned with spinning wool for donating a piety column, a Bildstock.

After the crusade had long been over, her husband had not returned to Vienna. Everybody told the woman to forget about him and get married again - the faithful wife, however, continued her habit and waited until - surprise - her husband actually did return. Out of gratefulness, they endowed the construction of the "Spinnerin am Kreuz" to thank god for the safe return. That much about the legend - a piety column that is also called "Spinnerin am Kreuz" can also be found outside of Wiener Neustadt in Lower Austria.

Spinnerin am Kreuz: Details of the Gothic Shrine

The Spinnerin am Kreuz is made of limestone and depicts the crucification of Christ, the coronation with the thorn crown, and the "Ecce Homo" scene. The bildstock was built in 1452 by Hans Puchsbaum, who is mostly remembered for being the creator of the Northern tower (the incomplete, short one) of Stephansdom cathedral. Before the limestone bildstock was created, a wooden column was at this site, first mentioned in a document from 1296.

According to some sources, the mason Michael Knab built a first stone pillar for this site in 1357, a monument which was later destroyed in 1446. The purpose of this pillar was to mark the southern border of Vienna and to provide a landmark for faring folk.

Until 1868, the Wienerberg area and the immediate surroundings of the Spinnerin am Kreuz were used as an execution site, death sentences were performed mostly by hanging. Attractions nearby are more or less non-existing - have a look at the Wienerberg area and park; there is also a 19th century water tower. Otherwise, I wouldn′t recommend to stay and hope for exciting sightseeing.

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Further Reading

Pretty good Wikipedia article on the Spinnerin am Kreuz (German)