Kulchytsky, Yurii Frants

Image - A painting (ca 1900) of Yurii Frants Kulchytsky's coffee house Under a Blue Bottle in Vienna. Image - Yurii Frants Kulchytsky (monument in Vienna).

Kulchytsky, Yurii Frants [Кульчицький, Юрій Франц; Kul'čyc'kyj, Jurij Franc], b ca 1640 in Kulchytsi, in the Sambir region, Galicia, d 20 February 1694 in Vienna. Traveler and merchant; hero of the defense of Vienna during the Austrian-Turkish War of 1683–99. Kulchytsky came from the ranks of the petty nobility. According to some sources, he joined the Zaporozhian Cossacks and was captured and imprisoned by the Turks. He had an excellent knowledge of the Turkish language and customs, and in the 1660s he worked as a translator for the Eastern Trading Company in Belgrade and Vienna. He later became a merchant himself. In July 1683 the Turks had advanced through Central Europe as far as Vienna, to which they laid siege. Defended by a small garrison of 10,000 men, the Viennese were soon in desperate straits: famine and disease ravaged the city and panic was beginning to spread. Disguised as a Turk, on 13 August 1683 Kulchytsky stole through the enemy lines to the Austrian army. He told the Austrians of the city’s critical situation, gave them information necessary for a co-ordinated plan of action against the Turks, and returned to Vienna with the news that the Polish king Jan III Sobieski and an army of Ukrainian Cossacks were coming to rescue the city. Their hope renewed, the Viennese continued to resist the Turks, and on 12 September the combined Christian armies defeated the Turks and raised the siege. According to tradition, the grateful Viennese, or even Jan Sobieski himself, gave Kulchytsky coffee captured from the Turks, with which he opened the first coffee house in Vienna. In 1885 the sculptor I. Pendl created a monument to Kulchytsky on a street named after him. A fictionalized biography of Kulchytsky was written by Ivan Fylypchak (1933; 2nd edn, 1983).

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 2 (1988).]

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