Sights of Sopron
Sopron has the second most national monuments in Hungary after Budapest. The historical downtown consists of only a few ancient streets, which hide the whole Hungarian history. The ornate doorways, the colourful facades of the houses, the cobbled streets and the terraces of many cosy cafés make Sopron one of the most romantic cities in Western Hungary.
Downtown, Main Square
In Sopron, we can get to the baroque Main Square from the Hűségkút through the Előkapu (Front Gate), the ground plan and location of its buildings have not changed since the 13th century. All the buildings in the square in the old town are monuments. The side of the Fire-watch Tower facing the Main Square is decorated with the Hűségkapu (Loyalty Gate).
The most prominent attraction of the square is the Baroque-style statue of the Holy Trinity, which dates from 1701. It was donated by Éva Katalin Késmárki Thököly and her third husband, Jakab Löwenburg, in memory of their survival of the great plague between 1695 and 1701. At the foot of the column, decorated with garlands and cherubs, Our Lady stands surrounded by saints, and the Corinthian column head is crowned by the Holy Trinity.
The Fire-watch Tower on the Main Square is a symbol of the city. It was built in the 13th century and it served the city for centuries. Its baroque onion dome with its two-headed eagle rises to a height of 58 meters, so it can be seen clearly from several parts of the city. A long, internal spiral staircase leads to the lower round balcony, which offers beautiful views to the city. It was a city tower originally, and its arcaded Renaissance roundabout was used to monitor the city. The tower guard serving here had to monitor and signal the fires and the oncoming enemy. He also had to indicate if a noble lord or a foreign consignment of wine was approaching the city gate.
Opposite the Fire-watch Tower, there is the Church of the Assumption, also known as the Goat Church, built by Franciscan monks in the 13th century. One of the most significant Hungarian Gothic style buildings got its popular name from the goat adorning the facade of the tower. At the end of the 19th century, following the work of Ferenc Storno, it was transformed into Neo-Romanesque style. Its crowned stone tower took on its present form that time. It was left with one bell that could be heard at noon, 8 p.m., and at the beginning of masses.
Pictures of Elemér Révhelyi, Goat Church – Kuny Domokos Múzeum CC BY
On the Main Square, opposite the town hall, you can find one of the most famous buildings in Sopron, the Baroque-style, palace-like Storno House, which was bought by Ferenc Storno Sr. – relocated here from Bavaria – in 1872. Ferenc Storno was a chimney sweeper, a painter, an architect and a restorer, and his name is associated with the restoration of many churches and palaces in Hungary. Ferenc Liszt also lived in this house, who also gave a concert here as a guest. Nowadays, there is a restaurant in the basement of the building and on the ground floor, and a museum operates on the two upper floors.
The Fabricius House is next to the Storno House. Mayor Endre Fabricius, lived in the house from 1806, where Sándor Petőfi was a frequent guest. According to a legend, Petőfi once fled from his barracks, changed clothes in the Fabricius House, and went to Ferenc Liszt's concert from there. In the medieval cellar of the house, you can find the Roman lapidary: the statue group Trias, which once adorned the Roman Capitolium, is also preserved here.
Sopron is the home of red wine, so the wine bars installed in cellars are very popular among both locals and visitors. There is a multi-room medieval cellar on the Main Square below the Kossow House. According to the legend, the name of the Gyógygödör Winery comes from the fact that the people who came to Sopron and wished to recover not only visited the Lövérek, but also entered the wine tavern, then called the Cellar Winery, from where they left healed. This is how the Cellar Winery became Gyógygödör (Medicinal Pit).
Cellar Winery - postcard, Sopron, 1970s – Magyar Kereskedelmi és Vendéglátóipari Múzeum CC BY-NC-ND
The Sopron Castle District began to be built on the outer edge of the old moat, following the arch of the old city walls. The outer row of houses was first mentioned in the 1400s, but the inner row of houses began to be built much later, only after the moats had been filled. In the first half of the 18th century, after the siege of the Kuruc, it became the main commercial site of the city. There are several outstanding monumental buildings in the district, including the famous Pannonia Hotel, which is the oldest hotel in Sopron. Already in the early 1900s, a number of cafés, bistros and confectioneries dotted the district, on the terraces of which locals and visitors are still happy to stop for a tea or a cake.
The southern part of the old town is bordered by Széchenyi Square, where the Lake Két-pék was situated originally. According to oral tradition, bakers who sold bread of wrong size and weight were given a bath here. The lake was drained in 1828 and construction of the square began. House No. 1 was owned by the family Széchényi for many years. Ferenc Széchényi kept his collections of medals, books and maps here, which he later offered to establish the Hungarian National Museum. His son, Count István Széchenyi, was the first honorary citizen of Sopron, and his full-figure bronze statue was erected in 1897 in an ornamental garden in the middle of the square.
Hungary, Sopron, Széchenyi Square, Széchenyi Statue,1905 – Fortepan / Vargha Zsuzsa CC BY-SA 3.0
Ferenc Liszt Conference and Cultural Centre
The eclectic style building of the Vigadó and Casino in Sopron and later the House of Hungarian Culture was inaugurated in 1873 and is located on Széchenyi Square. Today it is the centre of cultural life in Sopron. Major artists such as Károly Goldmark, Ferenc Liszt or Béla Bartók gave concerts in the building.
St. Michael’s Church
The Romanesque parish church began to be built on the highest point of the city in the first half of the 13th century. It was not until the 15th century that its construction was completed and its style had already become Gothic by this time. The building escaped the fire of the 17th century, but unfortunately in 1728, the roof of the church burned down and then the restoration of the building did not begin until the 1860s. The current neo-Gothic furniture was made according to the plans of Ferenc Storno Sr. Today’s furnishing has only one original medieval Gothic piece, which is a small, wood-carved statue of the Virgin Mary.
Lövérek (Lőverek/ Lővérek)
The magnificent villa and holiday district of Sopron, the Lövérek, was built on the slopes of the Sopron Mountains. Looking down from the hillside, the towers and rooftops of Sopron can be seen in the valley, and the water of Lake Fertő sparkles in the distance. Several lookout towers were built in the Lövérek area, most of which are just a short walk away via the established hiking trails.
Károly Lookout Tower
The most popular excursion destination in the Sopron Mountains is the 398-meter-high lookout tower, which was built of natural stone and offers a great view to the city for visitors. It is easily accessible on foot and by vehicle.
Hungary, Sopron, Károly Lookout Tower, 1965 – Fortepan / Hunyady József CC BY-SA 3.0
Lővér Bath - Ferenc Csik Swimming Pool
The predecessor of the swimming pool, the Forest Spring Bath, opened its doors to guests in 1908; its pool was made of natural stone and was fed by the water of the Deákkúti spring. The swimming pool was first renovated in 1934, when the entrance to the swimming pool hall was built. The swimming pool has been technically developed several times over the decades; its final name was given after Ferenc Csik, Olympic champion of 1936, in 2004.
student at ELTE BTK Institute
of Library and Information Science
Translated by Zita Aknai
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