For centuries, this ancient trunk of wood, which is studded with nails, has stood on the outer limits of Stephansplatz in the first district. There are many myths surrounding its history. My favourite theory, perhaps, is that apprentice blacksmiths from the middle ages drove nails into the tree for good luck.
Research conducted in the 1970s suggested that the trunk, a spruce tree, is over 600 years old and that the first nails were driven into it while it was still alive. Indeed, that practice went on for some time, maybe forty years, before the tree was cut down.
The section on display is decorated with panels illustrating the tree’s history. It has been proudly on show since at least 1548, and its home – the corner of the Palais Equitable – is so outlandishly extravagant that the tree itself seems subtly hidden. Indeed, I had walked that section of Kärtner Straße dozens of times before it was pointed out to me one day. Just one piece of living history in the historic core of the city, this little exhibition is one of those hidden marvels you will delight in showing your friends. Surprisingly few people know about it!