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The French monument
Victory and defeat

At the beginning of the 19th century there was a battle near Dürnstein between the allied armies of Russia and Austria and Napoleon’s French troops.

The battle, also known as the Battle of Loiben, took place on November 11, 1805 and ended with an allied victory over the French Emperor.

It was a short-lived triumph for the Austrian Emperor Francis I and his Russian ally, Tsar Alexander I, as Napoleon retaliated three weeks later at the famous Battle of Austerlitz.

At the beginning of the 20th century, a memorial was erected on the former battlefield near Dürnstein based on designs by the Viennese building consultant Friedrich Schachner.

The site chosen was the far ledge of Höhereckberg where the French General Gazan took up his final position before ceding to the onslaught of Austrian and Russian troops.

The monument rests on a square base with an ossuary or storage place for bones in its substructure. The date of the battle – November 11, 1805 – is visibly engraved in partly Roman, partly Arabic numerals, as are acknowledgements in German, French and Russian of the fallen soldiers from all three armies.

A polygonal tower rises up sharply from the base. Its upper section is in the stylised form of a grenade and decorated with reliefs.

You can see the French Marshal Mortier, the Russian General Kutusow, Austrian Lieutenant Field Marshal von Schmitt and the hunter Andreas Bayer, who acted as a local leader for the allied troops.

The French monument was unveiled on June 27, 1905. But the memory of the battle lives on in many other places in the Wachau region. Cannon balls can be found embedded in the walls of numerous houses in Unterloiben, there is a commemorative plaque at the parish church of St. Quirinus and street names recall the events of the 1805 war too, such as Franzosensgraben or ‘French trench’.

Supported by the Federal Province of Lower Austria and the European Union (LEADER)

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