A Brief Chronicle of Steyr
In the year 980, the Otakars, the margraves and later dukes of Styria built the "Stirapurhc", today the Lamberg palace, at the confluence of the rivers Enns and Steyr.
Subsequently, the urban settlement began to develop below the "Stirapurhc" and the parish church. The majority of the houses in the old town cenrte was built during the Gothic period, and was "modernised" in the Renaissance, Baroque, and Rococo periods.
The town acquired its wealth from the iron trade; an early town charter was confirmed in 1287. The terrible fire of 1727 destroyed large parts of the old town and the suburbs of Ennsdorf and Steyrdorf.
Following wars, epidemics, and the bad economic situation caused by the decline of the trade, Josef Werndl, who is remembered in the annals as the "Savious of Steyr", was born in 1831. Werndl took over his father's business and transformed it into a more modern factory. Moreover, he constructed the first breech-loading gun and began its serial production, turning Steyr into Europe's "weapon factory". Josef Werndl, a true pioneer, also deserves the credit for the fact that in 1884 Steyr boasted the first hydroelectrically-powered street light system in Europe.
Josef Werndl died in 1889, and the roots of today's "Steyr-Daimler-Puch-Werke" can be tracked back to his progressive idea. During the two World Wars, the factory was dedicated to weapons production. In the period between two wars, it also produced cars. The air raids of 1944 destroyed a large part of the production facilities. These were fully rebuilt, modernised, and enlarged after the end of the war. The factory's 10,000 employees worked in the production of tractors, lorries, ball bearings, and, continuing Steyr's long tradition, hunting and sporting guns.
Since 1955, when Steyr ceased to be at the border between the American and the Soviet zone, the town grew significantly in size, particularly the districts of Tabor, Ennsleite and Resthof, and the population increased to a current 39,000 inhabitants.
Today, Steyr is a model example of harmonious coexistence between an old town centre and a modern industrial site, making it one of Austria's most fascinating towns.