Tulln: Where the Master of the Line was Born
Tulln is a tranquil, pretty town where I have been only once when I was something like 16, with a few friends. I was drunk all the time and had one hell of a good time. Tulln is great!
In the meantime, I have learnt a few things that I have neglected during this visit full of merry drunkenness. One thing you need to keep in mind is that Tulln is looking back to many centuries of fairly uneventful history. Considering that it could have been involved in the Hussite wars, the Turkish sieges or the 30 Years′ War, it is remarkable how absolutely un-happening this scenic place by the Danube was.
Founded by the Romans as the town of Comagena, a local fraternity still uses this name and lives in the ancient "Salzturm" or "salt tower". The former UN General Secretary, Austrian president and Waffen SS member Kurt Waldheim is a member, by the way. This round building was erected during the reign of the late Roman Emperor Diocletian at a time when Rome was no longer the centre of the Imperium.
Basic Orientation in Tulln
The area along the river and around the main square (Hauptplatz, as usual) are well worth a look, including the parish church of St Stephan, a Baroque building with a Romanesque core. Nearby is the Karner or Charnel House, a very well-preserved Romanesque building that dates back to 1250, which I have just discovered on Wikipedia and completely missed out on during my stay in Tulln.
The most interesting church of the town (and one that I have actually seen) is the Minoritenkirche Church which was once associated with a Minorite monastery. It had just been renovated when I was there around 1997, so it should still be in somewhat decent shape: A charming mix of late Baroque and Rococo styles.
Roman ruins, Baroque Monasteries & Egon Schiele
Minorites are a reformed section of the Franciscan Order. The rest of the monastery consists of well-preserved cloisters and the main courts. These buildings are now transformed into a museum dedicated to the story of Tulln. As stated above, this story is not the most exciting one, the best parts of the exhibit displaying archaeological findings from Roman times.
In terms of museums, there is a better alternative in Tulln′s former prison just by the river. It is dedicated to Tulln′s most famous (probably only famous) son: Egon Schiele, who was born in this town in 1890 as the son of the local stationmaster. Before he set out to Vienna to become one of expressionism′s most outstanding - and most neglected - artists, he spent a childhood sufficiently uneventful to fit into this town.
As a young artist, Schiele started a small workshop with his lover and model in nearby Neulengbach. There he made the mistake to let children into the room where some nude drawing were on display and he was imprisoned for this indecency. He spent a total of 24 days in a jail preceding his trial. He was then sentenced to 3 days of prison and released right away - with kind of a bonus of 21 days, I guess.
More on Egon Schiele beyond Tulln
With all the narcissist dedication that one can see in many of Schiele′s works (especially his many self-portraits), he celebrated his "traumatic" stay in Neulengbach′s jail in several sketches and drawings. What does all that have to do with Tulln? The prison cell in which Schiele spent his 24 days was reconstructed in the Egon-Schiele-Museum and since most of the displays of the exhibition are reproductions, this cell is among the more interesting objects to see.
For a thorough introduction to Schiele′s work, his genius, his mastering of Gothic-like lines and his place in Vienna′s late-imperial art scene of the Secession time, go to the new and remarkable Leopold Museum in Vienna′s Museumsquartier.
After many decades of being neglected in Austria and elsewhere, Schiele started to receive the attention and admiration that he deserves after WWII. In Tulln, his birthplace has become a memorial with a reconstruction of its 1890 appearance, childhood photographs and reproductions of very early childhood drawings by Egon Schiele.