A Steeple watching over the City

The Middle Ages are mostly known for the fires. The fires brought great distress to many cities since once the fire started it was difficult to stop it before its flames swallowed the entire city.

Most buildings in the cities of that time were made of wood. The bottoms of the houses were narrow, while the tops were wide and the adjacent straw roofs of buildings were connected, since the building were positioned so close to each other and the streets were extremely narrow. Houses made entirely of stone were rare. 

Both the straw and the wood as well as the impassable streets created ideal conditions for raging fires to destroy entire cities. 

Due to the fires cities established special guards who would watch over the city from fire towers or church steeples. When a fire occurred, they would raise an alarm by striking a bell. 

The number of fires diminished by the 19th century, since they started building wider streets and only two- and three-story building were constructed. The possibility of major fires was extinguished by the industrial revolution which also brought about the development of fire-fighting equipment. In the second half of the 19th century the first voluntary fire brigades were established. Those brigades were the very origins of organised and professional firefighting service and they replaced the fire guards. 

In its history, Maribor experienced many fires and 6 reports of fires have been preserved, 4 of which started on Koroška cesta street. 

THE FIRST FIRE – 1513

The fire destroyed most of the city and the old Maribor town hall was among the destroyed buildings. They built a new town hall two years later and this building is still standing today, albeit somewhat modified.

THE SECOND FIRE – 6 May 1601

The fire broke out at noon in the house of Ludvik Himelsteiner on Koroška cesta street. The fire burned down most of the town, including the church tower, town hall and forts.

THE THIRD FIRE – 4 April 1648

It broke out in Čermoniževa hiša house on Mala gosposka ulica street between 6 and 7 o’clock in the morning. In two hours, almost the entire town burned down including churches, the town gates and the town hall. Among the buildings destroyed by fire were also food storages, while the ammunition storage building exploded. 

THE FOURTH FIRE – 27 April 1650

It broke out at 6 p.m. in the barn of Krištof Schaler on Koroška cesta street less than 2 years after the third fire. Presumably it was set by a malicious soldier who was executed later in the Czech lands. 

People of Maribor expected that territorial lords will show some understanding for their predicament since Maribor was burnt almost to the ground twice in the span of only two years. Instead of paying the taxes they used the money to rebuild the city which gave rise to conflicts with the territorial estates, who confiscated the town’s tolls, because they haven’t been paying the levies for a number of years.

THE FIFTH FIRE – 1 AUGUST 1700

It broke out between 6 and 7 in the evening in the house of Janez Filipič on Koroška ulica street, near the town gates. It was caused by the chamberlain of the count Rosenberger, who was shooting at a swallow and set fire to a straw roof. Almost the entire city burned down. 

THE LAST FIRE – 1797

The last fire was the most devastating for the city and once again it broke out on Koroška cesta street in the Straschillova hiša house number 3.

It spread across the Splavarski prehod passage all the way to butchers’ stalls in the eastern part of the Vojaška ulica street and it also destroyed the leather workshops in the Usnjarska ulica street, before it spread to the Židovska ulica and Vetrinjska ulica streets, completely destroying that part of the town. 

To protect the town against fire, the townspeople erected the Florjanovo znamenje monument on the Grajski trg square around the year 1700. St. Florian was a patron saint of firefighters and floods. 

 

THE GUARDROOM

Church steeples often served as fire lookout towers. In Maribor, the bell tower of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist used to have this function. Today, on the top of the tower you will not only get a captivating view of the marvellous city of Maribor, but you will also get to see the little apartment where the fire guard once lived. 

Together with the organized firefighting unit, the guardroom on the top of the tower helped to protect the city from fires. In case of a fire, the fire guard would strike the bell and warn the city below of the danger. 

The last fire lookout was Antonia Weiss, who was fired in 1933. The guardroom remained closed until 2012, when the Regional Museum put up a museum collection which showcases a day in a life of a fire guard. 



Srednji vek je znan predvsem po ognju. Zaradi ognja se je znašla večina mest v hudi stiski, kajti, ko je enkrat zagorelo, je bilo požar zelo težko zaustaviti, preden je pogoltnil celotno mesto.

Večina stavb v mestih je bilo lesenih, hiše so bile zgoraj širše kot spodaj, tako da so se slamnate strehe med seboj stikale, stavbe so bile tesno druga ob drugi in ulice so bile izredno ozke. Hiše, v celoti zgrajene iz kamna, so bile zelo redke. 

Tako so slama in les, neprehodne ulice tvorile idealno prizorišče za ognjene viharje, ki so uničevali cela mesta. 

Mesta so zato razvila posebne straže, ki so iz požarnih stolpov ali cerkvenih zvonikov opazovale mesto in z zvonjenjem zvonov sprožile alarm za požar. 

Požari so se nekoliko umirili šele v 19. stoletju, ko so se začele graditi široke ulice in le dvo- ali trinadstropne hiše. Nevarnost požarov velikih razsežnosti pa je odpravila industrijska revolucija, ki je s seboj prinesla tudi razvoj požarne opreme. V drugi polovici 19. stoletja so začele nastajati prve prostovoljne gasilske čete. To so bili prvi zametki organiziranega in poklicnega varstva pred požari ter so nadomestili požarne stražarje. 

Maribor je v svoji zgodovini doživel veliko požarov, ohranjenih pa 6 poročil o požarih, od katerih so se kar štirje začeli na Koroški cesti. 

 

PRVI POŽAR – 1513

Požar je uničil veliko večino mesta, med uničenimi hišami je bil tudi stari mariborski rotovž. Dve leti kasneje so zgradili novega, ki v nekoliko spremenjeni podobi stoji še danes.

DRUGI POŽAR – 6. 5. 1601

Požar je izbruhnil opoldne v hiši Ludvika Himelsteinerja na Koroški cesti. Zaradi požara je pogorela večina mesta, vključno s cerkvenim zvonikom, rotovžem in utrdbami.

TRETJI POŽAR – 30. 4. 1648

Izbruhne v Čermoniževi hiši v Mali gosposki ulici med 6. in 7. uro zjutraj. V dveh urah je pogorelo skoraj celo mesto, s cerkvami, mestnimi vrati in rotovžem vred. Pogorela so tudi skladišča s hrano, razneslo je tudi skladišče z municijo. 

Č ETRTI POŽAR – 27. 4. 1650

Izbruhne slabi dve leti po tretjem požaru ob 18. uri zvečer v hlevu hiše Krištofa Schalerja na Koroški cesti. Podtaknil naj bi ga hudoben vojak, ki so ga kasneje na Češkem usmrtili. 

Maribor je od deželnih knezov pričakoval razumevanje, saj je v razmaku dveh let bil požgan skoraj do tal. Denar so namesto za davke namenili za obnovo mesta in zato prišli v spor z deželnimi stanovi, ki so jim zaradi tega zaplenili mestno mitnino, ker je bilo mesto v večletnem zaostanku s prispevki. 

PETI POŽAR − 1. 8. 1700

Izbruhne med 18. in 19. uro zvečer v hiši Janeza Filipiča na Koroški cesti blizu mestnih vrat. Povzročil pa ga je komornik grofa Rosenbergerja, ki je streljal na lastovko in s tem zažgal slamnato streho. Pogorelo je skoraj celo mesto. 

ZADNJI POŽAR – 1797

Zadnji požar je mesto prizadel najhuje in je izbruhnil nikjer drugje kot na Koroški cesti v Straschillovi hiši številka 3.

Razširil se je po Splavarskem prehodu do mesarskih stojnic v vzhodnem delu Vojaške ulice ter uničil usnjarske delavnice na Usnjarski ulici, preden se je razširil na Židovsko in Vetrinjsko ulico ter popolnoma uniči ta del mesta. 

Meščani so za zaščito pred požari, okoli leta 1700 na Grajskem trgu, postavili Florjanovo znamenje, ki je zavetnik proti povodnji in požarom.  

ČUVAJNICA

Cerkveni zvoniki so pogosto služili kot opazovalnice pred požari. V Mariboru je v ta namen služi zvonik stolne cerkve Janeza Krstnika. Na vrhu zvonika danes ne boste našli samo dih jemajočega razgleda prečudovitega Maribora, temveč vas bo tam pričakalo majhno stanovanje, kjer je nekoč prebival požarni opazovalec. 

Opazovalnica na zvoniku je skupaj z organizirano požarno obrambo delovala kot zaščita mesta pred požari. Požarni opazovalec je mesto pod seboj opozoril o nevarnosti z udarci na zvonec. 

Zadnja požarna opazovalka Antonia Weiss je bila leta 1933 odpuščena in s tem je bila opazovalnica zaprta vse do leta 2012, ko Pokrajinski muzej postavi v prostorih zvonika muzejsko zbirko, ki prikazuje dan v življenju požarnega opazovalca. 



Tekst zbrala in uredila: Eva Mataln 

Prevod: Maja Miklavc & Miha Odar

Fotografije: Igor Unuk

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