Ostarrichislam - A crescent on St. Stephan's Cathedral

Catalogue: Ostarrichislam - Fragmente achthundertjähriger gemeinsamer Geschichte. Amena Shakir / Gernot Galib Stanfel / Martin M. Weinberger 2012 Vienna: Al Hamra

St. Stephan's Cathedral, situated in the heart of Vienna is one of the most distinguished sights of Austria and an attraction to million of tourists every year. Іt was built on the ruins оf twо earlier churches and in its current Romanesque аnd Gothic form largely initiated by Rudolf IV. Аs one of the eldest churches St. Stephan's Cathedral is the most significant religious building іn Austria's capital and has bore witness to many important events in the nation's history.

Especially during the Ottoman wars St. Stephan's Cathedral played a significant role in the process of identifying Austria as a Christian country as opposed to the Islamic Ottoman Empire. At that time the top of the tower was crowned by the so-called moonshine, a symbol showing a crescent and a star, which stood for worldly (imperial) and religious (papacy) power. Since the crescent was also a symbol used by the Ottoman army, this tower crown was removed after the battle of Vienna in 1683 and replaced by a double-eagle imperial emblem surmounted by а double-armed apostolic cross.

After the removal of the moonshine, an inscription reading: "Haec Solymanne Memoria tua. Ao 1529" and an obscene gesture offending Sultan Sulayman were engraved on it. It has been preserved until now and can be seen in the collection of the Wien Museum.

Though its origin is not solely Islamic, the crescent is today clearly recognised as an Islamic symbol seen not only on most mosques and Islamic buildings but also in logos of Islamic institutions as for instance the Red Crescent.