Eine Salve der Murauer Bürgergarde | © TVB Murau-Kreischberg | Mediadome

The Murauer Citizens' Guard

Murau is the only provincial town in Styria to retain its historical Citizens' Guard (Bürgergarde). The brightly coloured uniforms come from Napoleonic times. Murau's Bürgergarde currently has 62 active members, including the "sutlers" (civilian merchants) and the Guard priest.


Maintaining tradition and custom

The primary goal of the Bürgergarde is to maintain tradition: within its own ranks and with other associations. The Murau Bürgergarde looks after the Friesachertor in Murau, where the parade figure of Samson is kept ‒ visitors can learn more about him from the display case. At the moment, the Bürgergarde works predominantly with young 'guardsmen' to carry on Styria's beautiful heritage and in the tradition of their forefathers.

 

History of the Bürgergarde

The fact that the present Rathaus (town hall) in Murau served as a citizens' arsenal until 1778 indicates that there must have been an armed guard here at that time. In 1616, Anna Neumann, former 'Mistress of Murau', sent "veteran fighters and courageous citizens in defence against the Venetian marauders." In 1683, 16 men from the civil defence were dispatched to Semmering and the Rachauer Alm, in response to rising threat from the Turks. There are bills from 1676, 1758 and 1774 suggesting that the Bürgergarde must have been around 100 men strong. As of 1848, the Bürgergarde formed part of the Kaiserliche Nationalgarde (Imperial National Guard). In 1852, it came to an end and the Guard vanished from Murau's town life.

It was only in 1929 that the Bürgergarde was revived by former Stadtamtsdirektor (head of the town's municipal administration) Friedrich Zelburg, marching out at all patriotic and church-related festivals until 1938. Shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War, the Guard was officially dissolved. Thanks are owed largely to Ernst Gasteiger for ceremonially re-establishing the Guard in autumn 1952.