Friedrich Simony

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Friedrich Simony
Simony's birth house

Friedrich Simony (born November 30, 1813 in Hrochowteinitz , Bohemia ; † July 20, 1896 in St. Gallen , Styria ) was a geographer and alpine researcher. As the first professor for geography, he established this subject at the University of Vienna .

Friedrich Simony is known for developing the Dachstein area. In 1840 Simony began researching the Dachstein Plateau for the first time and began to explore the geomorphology and the eight glaciers of the Dachstein Mountains. In 1847 he made the first winter ascent.

The Simonyhütte and the Simony-Scharte are named after him in the Dachstein area . From 1851 to 1885 he was a university professor in Vienna and founded the chair for geography . He was a friend of Adalbert Stifter .

Early years

Simony was born in the market town of Hrochowteinitz in the Chrudimer district in Bohemia. His father was probably an army doctor of Hungarian descent, the name Simony is derived from Hungarian. His mother died early without having married his father.

1825-28 he attended grammar school in Mikulov (formerly Nikolsburg) in Moravia , but left it because of an apprenticeship as a pharmacist. In 1833 Simony came to Vienna as a laboratory assistant and began studying pharmacy here , which he completed in 1835. He then devoted himself to the study of natural sciences, encouraged by one of his teachers, the botanist Joseph Franz Freiherr von Jacquin .

First walks

In 1840 Simony and three friends - including Franz von Hauer - went from Vienna to Aussee and came to Hallstatt for the first time . In September he climbed the Dachstein plateau together with the mountain guide Johann Wallner (1802–1878) and came to the Hohen Gjaidstein. On this hike he made his first drawings, which later also resulted in watercolors.

In 1842 he made the second trip to the Salzkammergut . In September of the same year he climbed the Dachstein for the first time. His first printed work, climbing the Hohe Dachstein from the Karls-Eisfeld , was printed in the Wiener Zeitung . According to his suggestions, a Dachsteinweg and a small shelter hut made of stones were built on the plateau. He named the hut in Wildkar Hotel Simony , which can now be seen almost true to the original, around five minutes' walk from the Simonyhütte.

Friendship with Adalbert Stifter

In the winter of 1843/44 Simony tried his hand at writing once by writing the prelude to a folk play. In 1844 Simony also met the poet Adalbert Stifter in the Metternichs' house .

First research

In 1844 Simony began his limnological research and carried out soundings in Lake Hallstatt. Due to his extensive and systematic approach, he is considered one of the pioneers of this research direction. In addition to his social commitment to charitable foundations, he ran a photo studio and set up a mineralogical display collection in Hallstatt. With a huge burial ground, he drove excavations on the Hallstatt salt mountain. Speleology was only a small part of his work. However, he thought about the Augenstein gravel in the Koppenbrüller cave early on . It was not until ten years after Simony's death that Hermann Bock began exploring the cave. In honor Simonys he named some parts of the cave after him, that would be the Simonygalerie that Simonyhalle and Simonykapelle .

Around 1846 he did intensive research in the field of glaciology and glacial morphology . Among other things, he examined the extent of the glaciers in the Salzkammergut, the rounding of the mountains, carts , erratic debris, moraines and glacier cut .

In 1847 he carried out meteorological observations, air pressure and temperature measurements in the Dachstein area. He dealt with the question of winter inversion , cloud formation and the types of precipitation, as well as observations on the snow cover (hardening of the surface).

In 1848, numerous temperature measurements followed in many Salzkammergut lakes at different depths.

Work as a curator, geologist and professor

In May 1848 Simony was appointed curator of the Natural History State Museum in Klagenfurt . There he put on an extensive collection of fossils and rocks. Otherwise he carried out soundings in the Wörthersee . As early as 1849 Simony was appointed chief geologist of Section V at the Geological Reichsanstalt. There he operated the mapping along the Traun. In 1850 he drew the geological average through the Alps from the Ennstal over the Dachstein, the Aussee Basin and the Traunstein to the Danube. The profile consists of 50 parts with a total length of 6.5 m.

On April 19, 1851 Simony was appointed the first full professor of geography at the University of Vienna . He is the founder of university geography in Austria and was the initiator of other relevant chairs in the German-speaking area.

Travel and further research

The Karlseisfeld on September 27, 1890 , photograph by Friedrich Simony
The Thorstein from the Simonyscharte, photograph by Friedrich Simony around 1881

From 1852 to 1857 Simony made many trips, mainly to the Salzkammergut , but also for the first time to more distant areas, such as the North Carniolan Basin, the Adige Valley and the Venediger area , where he climbed the snow summit in the Venediger Group in 1856 .

After 1862 he continued his lake research more intensively.

On November 19, Simony took part in the founding assembly of the Austrian Alpine Club together with Paul Grohmann , Edmund von Mojsisovics , and Anton von Ruthner, among others .

In 1875, Simony discovered photography as an important tool in his research and took his first pictures on the Dachstein in 1876. In 1884 he began taking extensive photographs of the Dachstein, which he completed in 1889.

Retirement and death

In 1885 Simony retired, five years later he climbed the Dachstein for the last time. On July 20, 1896, Friedrich Simony died in the Styrian town of Sankt Gallen , where he made geographic drawings into old age.


At the age of 38, Simony married Amalie Krackowitzer (1821–1877). He had two sons: Oskar Simony (1852–1915) and the doctor Arthur Simony (1854–1882). His nephew was the Viennese academic painter Stephan Simony (1860–1950).



Since 2007, the Hallstatt-Dachstein-Salzkammergut cultural landscape has awarded the Friedrich-Simonypreis , which honors people or institutions who contribute to the promotion of the world heritage region and the concept of world heritage. The first winner was the cave explorer Hubert Trimmel .


About the estate:

  • Christa Riedl-Dorn: The collections of Friedrich Simony at the Natural History Museum / Vienna. In: Stapfia 43 (= catalogs of the O. Ö. Landesmuseum NF 103), 1996, pp. 199–266, PDF on ZOBODAT - the information can also be found in ops.cit. Bv Böhmersheim 1899.

Web links

Commons : Friedrich Simony  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Death book 6 Styria 1895-1938 - 19360 | St. Gallen | Graz-Seckau, rk. Diocese (Styria) | Austria | Matricula Online. Retrieved November 8, 2017 .
  2. Linz streets: Simonystraße
  3. Friedrich Simony Prize ( Memento of the original from August 4, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. accessed on the world heritage site on March 25, 2012 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /