The history of the

"pecker" (Specht)

... not always quite historically correct ...

Approx. 300 AD the Roman legionnaire „Marcus Picidus“ (Pecker) was garrisoned in the Roman camp Vindobona (Vienna). He brought large amounts of wine grapes from his southern home and planted them on the soft hills along the Danube River. This special relationship with wine (German: Wein) is still evident in the German word for Vienna: Wien.

In the year 1192, the English king „Richard the Lionheart“ was recognized on his way home from the Third Crusade in Wien-Erdberg and taken prisoner. Allegedly, one of his companions was found severely inebriated in a tavern in today’s Bäckerstraße. His camouflage clothing strongly resembled a pecker’s plumage.

In the 13th century, after extending the city wall, the “Bäckerstraße” (Baker Street) was given its current name, because many bakers (“Pecker”) were situated here. It is an unproven legend that this name originally comes from inhabitants of the street who collectively suffered from a “Pecker” (a colloquial Viennese term for a “not closely defined brain malfunction”).

In 1403 Chunrad Vorlauf“ was elected Mayor of Vienna. The house in Bäckerstraße 12 was his property. When he chose the wrong side during the brotherly war between “Ernst the Iron” and Leopold IV, he was executed by the sword in 1408. A short time later, the sovereign City Judge “Hieronymus Kuh” (“Hieronymus Cow”) purchased the building. He loved playing board games underneath a roofed arbour while enjoying several glasses of wine.  The house was soon referred to “Where the cow plays board games”. On the wall above the entrance to the “Specht”, a fresco from the 17th century still reminds us of this incident.

During the Turkish invasion in 1529, the basement of the tavern was equipped with many water bowls that made the soft vibrations of the Turks’ mining efforts visible, who tried to bury a tunnel underneath the city wall. Whether it was always just water in those bowls, can no longer be verified. 

The „Specht“ also saw lively discussions during the Black Death epidemic of 1679: The followers of “Abraham a Sancta Clara” defended his work “Merck’s Wienn!” which deals with the transiency of life and the preparation for death. On the other side were followers of “Marx Augustin” who cheered up Vienna with his bagpipe and lots of wine. With humour, it is possible to cope with the worst epidemics (see 2020).

The „Vienna Congress“ of 1814/1815 where approx. 500 European leaders and aristocrats were negotiating about the future of Europe, caused an economic upswing. Sovereigns sometimes had doubles replacing them so they could enjoy the taverns or amorous affairs. Unfortunately – for us – the walls of the “Specht” do not talk.

In 1910, Vienna was home to 2.1 million inhabitants and as such the fifth largest city of the world (after London, New York, Paris and Chicago, and before Berlin and Tokyo). Therefore, bedmates, people who had to share one bed, became more frequent. The taverns of Vienna, also the “Specht”, offered sufficient opportunities to spend the time between work and bed-time, sometimes even replacing bed-time completely.

The year 2020 was the time of a spectacular discovery in the city of Vienna: Among the roof beams of the house Bäckerstraße no. 12, a breeding pair of „Piciformes Microchiroptera Terminatus“ was observed – the first bat eating pecker species. Semi-scientific research concluded that these birds are completely immune to the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2” – or as it is publicly called “the Corona virus”.