The Locomotive Tourist travel agency is situated in the historic centre of Sopron at the meeting of Új utca (New Street) and Szent György utca (St. George Street).
The medieval house standing on this site was destroyed in the 6th December 1944 bombing. Construction work on the new building revealed - at a depth of 4.2 metres below street level - the remains of Roman Scarbantia's Forum to its southern perimeter. The Forum Scarbantiae Museum found at Locomotive Tourist is operated by the travel agency. The height of the column positioned in the two-storey interior of the office and museum indicates the entablature level of the Forum's buildings. The inscription FORUM SCAR-BANTIAE set into the pavement surrounded by some Roman paving stones marks the travel agency entrance. The annotated and numbered stones on show at the lower level had been replaced in their original position. The Forum paving stones, drainpipe and statue bases are original, the Corinthian column is a reconstruction assembled from its original base, shaft and capital with some additions. The ceramic columns give an indication of the Forum portico colonnade.
Having visited the museum let us now begin our first walk through Sopron's historic nucleus. It was largely after the 1676 fire that the present architectural character of this area developed.
As in the case of most medieval towns and cities, it was through gates interrupting the fortifications that one was able to enter Sopron's centre. Until the end of the 18th century there had only been two such gates. One of these, Elõkapu (Foregate) still takes us to Fõ tér (Main Square). The observant visitor is able to discern the remains of the double draw-bridge, reminders of the line of the fortification system. In medieval times a narrow, walled carriageway led to Elõkapu, the fortified northern entrance to the inner city. Its moat, draw-bridges and wolfpits were all maintained to hinder entry to foe.
A second approach led one through Hátsókapu, (Reargate) the point where our first walk will terminate.
Let us now acquaint ourselves with Fõ tér, one of the most exquisite of such squares in this country. Its layout has hardly altered since the 13th century. The visitor's gaze is immediately drawn to the symbol of Sopron: the City Tower or Fire Tower as most people call it. Its rectilinear lowest third was built at the end of the 13th century. In fine weather a splendid view of the city, the surrounding hills and Lake Fertõ may be enjoyed from the roofed gallery. The eagle symbol of the Holy Roman Empire was placed on top of the tower during the 1681 parliamentary session in honour of Emperor Leopold I on the occasion of his third queen's coronation held in Sopron. The tower's first mention was recorded in 1409, its first illustration dates from 1592. It accommodated the fire watchman who was also charged with general guard duties. In addition to these he was also meant to give due warning of approaching dignitaries as well as attempts being made to bring in non-local wine. The watchman and his crew also played music in the gallery and looked after the clock installed sometime before the beginning of the 17th century. Instead of the original large arched opening, now it is a narrow pedestrian passage that leads one through under the tower. It is named the Gate of Fidelity. The group of figures above is he work of the sculptor Zsigmond Kisfaludy Strobl. It was presented by the nation to the Most Faithful City in 1928. The high relief depicts the burghers of Sopron paying homage to mythological figure of Hungaria in memory of the referendum held in 1921 that resulted in the city remaining part of Hungary.
Directly adjoining the tower stands the Town Hall, (No 1 Fõ tér) completed for the millenium in 1896 according to the designs of Móric and Károly Hinträger in eclectic style.
The building previously occupying he site passed into city ownership in 1496. Having been extensively decorated with murals and inscriptions at the behest of Mayor Kristóf Lackner in 1615, the building burnt down in the 1676 fire. Subsequent desultory restoration work ended in eventual demolition. This fate also befell several nearby baroque residences.
Opposite the Town Hall one may see one of Sopron's most beautiful buildings: the Storno House, (No 8 Fõ tér) King Matthias's residence in 1482-83. The originally renaissance building gained its baroque character in 1720, to which rococo ornamentation was later added. The coat of arms of the counts Festetics above the entrance refers to the erstwhile owners from whom the Storno family - originally from Switzerland - purchased the building in 1872. Ferenc Storno settled in Sopron in 1845 and soon became one of the most sought after restorers of antiquities and works of art. He began the well-known Storno collection thus rescuing numerous objects of value that would have otherwise been lost to posterity. In addition to the Storno collection the building houses a department of the local history museum. The Lackner or Tábornok-ház (General's House) (No 7 Fõ tér) adjoins the Storno House. It was bequeathed to the city by its famous mayor, Kristóf Lackner in 1631. Its present architectural expression dates from 1715. At the rear of its courtyard, somewhat to the left, part of the original fortifications still stands in form of a medieval keep. A plaque under the balcony with his portrait as well as his coat of arms over the entrance remind us of Kristóf Lackner. The latter includes his motto: "Fiat Voluntas Tua" ("Thy Will Be Done"). Kristóf Lackner held the office of mayor for 14 years. A man of many talents, he wrote dramas to be performed in local schools, founded the Sopron Society for Sciences and commissioned public works citywide. These included the Town Hall reconstruction and the building of extensive defences to surround the outlying areas. An outstanding diplomat, under his aegis the city enjoyed peace and thrived. He left his wealth to the public.
The Fabricius House (No 6 Fõ tér) is named after its one-time owner András Fabricius, originally from the far north of Hungary that is now Slovakia. He purchased the building in 1806. The Roman lapidary and archaeological collection of Sopron Museum may be visited in the gothic/renaissance wing adjoining the remains of the city fortifications at the rear while the front part of the building houses an exhibition of 17th-18th century furniture.
The County Hall (No 5 Fõ tér) is Vencel Hild's pilastered classicist design built between 1829-34. The archives at the rear of the building accommodate an exhibition of city history possibly unique in the country. It includes original documentation dating from 1162. Passing through the entrance hall and courtyard we may view the fortification system that at one time surrounded the city.
The Kossow House (No 4 Fõ tér) is also named Little Fort. It was in this characteristically baroque residence that Emperor Ferdinand II and his queen spent part of 1622 and 1625 on the occasions of parliament having been convened in Sopron. Ferdinand III stayed here in 1625, Leopold I in 1681 while during the winter of 1684-85 the building accommodated Prince Charles of Lorrain preparing his troops for the siege of Buda.
The Gambrinus House (No 3 Fõ tér) functioned as town hall until the end of the 15th century, having been presented to Sopron by King Sigmund I in 1422. It bears the hallmarks of several consecutive architectural styles as if recording the passing of centuries. Rococo elements decorate the front façade, traces of medieval brackets may be seen in the yard while the entrance is lined with a series of gothic porters' niches. Roman remains of the historic Amber Road are still visible through the railings adjoining the street façade.
The Patika-ház (Apothecary House) (No 2 Fõ tér) is a formerly arcaded building that gained its present day architectural character in 1850. A letter written by King Lajos II in 1525 forbade its demolition referring to the architectural unity of Main Square. Still treasured in the city archives, this letter is Hungary's first ever historic building protection document, a source of pride to this day. A working apothecary between the years 1642-67, today the building houses a small museum presenting an exhibition of pharmaceutical history.
The centre of the square is dominated by one of the most interesting pieces of baroque sculpture in Hungary, the Trinity Column. This votive sculpture was commissioned by Éva Katalin Thököly and her third husband Jakab Löwenburg to commemorate their survival of the great plague of 1695-1701. It was the first ever external 'cork-screw' column sculpture in Eastern Europe. The highly raised base accommodates the kneeling figures of the two patrons.
We leave Fõ tér via Templom utca (Church Street) marked by the building of the Benedictine, formerly Franciscan Church. Popularly known as the Goat Church, legend has it that its construction was paid for from treasure unearthed by a goat. The copies of the coat of arms visible above the entrance and in the nave - that of the Gaissel family - testify to the story. It was a certain Henrik Gaissel who left all his fortune to the Franciscan order of monks by way of atonement for his sins. The Church of the Blessed Virgin gained its present architectural character at the end of the 13th and the beginning of the 14th century. It was the scene of five parliamentary sessions held in the years 1553, 1622, 1625, 1635 and 1681 as well as three coronations. Two queens were crowned here in 1622 and 1681 respectively, in addition to the Emperor Ferdinand III in 1625. The architecture reflects the style of several different periods. The 43 metre tall spire probably dates from the 14th century, the carvings and other elements of the interior are in the baroque style. The formerly Franciscan, later Benedictine monastery (No 1 Templom utca) belongs to the church. One of the most important gothic structures to be found in Sopron, its focal element, the Chapter House, eventually became a burial chapel. Sculpture niches greet us by the entrance, the ceiling fresco depicting the Franciscan saints was painted by Dorfmeister in 1779.
No-s 2-4 Templom utca: the two former town-houses of the princes Esterházy accommodate the National Museum of Mining (No 2) as well as the Exhibition of Forestry, Timber Industries and Land-surveying History (No 4). The architectural elements of No 2's street façade include stone window surrounds with straight hood moulds in the upper storey and an arched entrance between small Tuscan pilasters. Reclining putti adorn the broken pediment that surrounds the Esterházy coat of arms and rests on banded double pilasters. Bas reliefs with military elements decorate the spandrels while a stone replica of the Mariazell pilgrim church Madonna is visible in an arched niche above the entrance. Remains of the city fortifications provide a backdrop to a classicist garden structure at the rear of the building. No 4 Templom utca was the scene of a historic event in 1921. It was here that the result of the referendum deciding the fate of Sopron and its district was officially arrived at by the representatives of the Entente Powers. The plain front façade is as it were, a continuation of that of its neighbour. The upper storey's niche - surrounded in plaitwork moulding - houses a 17th century sculpture version of the Eisenstadt Madonna painting showing the infant Jesus on the main figure's left arm.
The Bezerédj residence (No 6 Templom utca) gained its restrained but witty baroque façade at the beginning of the 17th century. It was in this building that in 1840 Franz Liszt played at a soirée musicale after which a glove of his was torn to pieces by the attending lady guests, each eager to depart with her own memento.
The Schreiner House to the left is also worth a glance. Its street façade accommodates the cannonballs that hit their target in the 1706 siege of Sopron during the Rákóczi uprising.
Half-way along Templom utca, at its meeting with Kolostor utca (Convent Street) stands the Lutheran Church. Subsequent to Emperor Joseph II's edict of religious tolerance having been issued, it was built in the classicist style between the years 1782-84. The 52 metre tall spire was constructed eighty years later. It is Sopron's largest church. The adjoining vicarage (No 12 Templom utca) houses the National Lutheran Collection. A plaque on its side wall commemorates the 19th century bishop and poet János Kis, the patron of Dániel Berzsenyi the great poet. The background of other Templom utca buildings is also charged with local history.
The residences of Sopron intelligentsia, several belonged to doctors, writers, poets, artists and members of the clergy. For example: No 5 - Hungary's first museum of local history No 15 - the birthplace of Viktor Altdörfer pianist No 17 - a second Lutheran vicarage No 19 - the residence of József Hajnóczy, leading 19th century jurist.
Let us now continue our walk along Fegy-vertár utca (Arsenal Street). Its short route traces the line of the fortifications and connects Templom utca with Orsolya tér (Ursula Square). Nos 2-2/a Fegyvertár utca housed the city arsenal during the first half of the 17th century. It was here that less well-to-do Sopron burghers were issued with weapons in order to be able to attend to guard duty. During the second half of the 18th century the significance of such obligations had gradually ceased so that the contents of he city armoury were eventually sold at auction in 1778. From then on until 1857 the building functioned as a school when the city sold it for residential purposes. It was rebuilt in the romantic style in 1860. Work in the cellars of No 2/a revealed Roman remains of the Amber Road.
Greiner House (No 3 Fegyvertár utca) is the building where Pál Greiner opened Sopron's first post-house. The family continued to run the local postal services for three generations. The right was eventually purchased by Count Ferenc Széchenyi.
And now within just a few steps we reach Orsolya tér, the erstwhile Salt Market.
It was in 1747 that the nuns of the Order of St Ursula first settled in Sopron. Their church, convent and school buildings were constructed in the square between 1861-64 according to Nándor Handler's designs. No 2 Orsolya tér, the former Ursuline Convent, accommodates the Roman Catholic Collection of Ecclesiastical Art. Excavations in the school yard uncovered remains of the Roman South Gate. Opposite, along the northern side of the square stands the so called Lábasház (Arcade House) built in the 16th-17th century. Sometime during the middle years of the last century the ground floor was filled in. A World War II air-raid however revealed the arcading and it was consequently reinstated. Exhibitions arranged by the local museum are regularly held in the first floor gallery.
The late 18th century Maria fountain in the centre of the square originally stood in the courtyard of the formerly Franciscan, later Benedictine monastery. It was transferred to Orsolya tér in the 1930s.
We can now walk back to Fõ tér along Új utca (New Street) that begins to the left of the arcade. Contrary to its name Új utca is one of Sopron's oldest streets. Prior to 1440 it was called Zsidó utca (Jews' Street) referring to the fact that before their 1526 banishment it was mostly Jewish people who lived here.
The building at No-s 22-24 Új utca is the Medieval Old Synagogue, the first prayer hall of the local Jewish community that was probably built between 1300-1320. The street façade had been rebuilt in the baroque style and retains two entrances. Medieval law prohibited the positioning of synagogues in line with adjoining buildings. It is for this reason that the entrance on the left takes us into the "House of Joseph the Jew". A simple stone mullioned rose window positioned between two arched slots lights the synagogue's upper storey. On our right: the one-time hospice while the door opposite opens onto a corridor leading to the medieval prayer hall, the women's synagogue and their ritual baths. The two-storey high hall interior is entered via a gothic door. Excavations revealed the hexagonal bema base in the centre. The recess in the east wall holds the Ark of the Covenant with visible traces of original paintwork.
And now let us continue our walk to the Medieval Synagogue at No 11 Új utca. Probably built around 1370, it served as the private prayer hall of a Vienna banker named Israel who settled in Sopron. After the banishment of the Jews from Sopron in 1526, the original function of the synagogues changed and fell into oblivion.
Having returned to Fõ tér, let us now take a brief look at Kolostor utca, (Convent Street) particularly its residential buildings that have survived in virtually unaltered baroque character. The name Kolostor utca is first mentioned in records dating from 1379. The Goat Church and adjoining monastery flank the western side while town houses of the nobility alternate with burgher family residences opposite. No 11 Kolostor utca, a characteristic three-storey baroque building, is the Zichy-Mesko mansion. Its glazed double loggias frame the street façade and the staircase, decorated with Count Zichy's coat of arms and initials, is reached through wrought iron gates.
No 3 Kolostor utca belonged to the high-ranking army officer Antal Starhemberg during the second half of the 18the century. It was around 1770 that the building's present architectural character evolved. The family coat of arms can be seen above the entrance. Although
No 5 Kolostor utca is originally a gothic residence, the two-storey building was substantially altered after the 1676 fire. Its most interesting feature is the 16th century painted balcony ornamented in renaissance style.
Our route now leads us away from Fõ tér and the historic nucleus, along Szent György utca, the far end of which terminates in Hátsókapu.
Its main points of interest are:
No 1 Szent György utca also known as Neu-gebäude (the German word for New Building) is an L-shaped four-storey building dating from the middle ages. Its curved front façade follows the line of the street. The engraved date 1491 is visible on a gothic ribbon ornament carved on a stone in the courtyard wall. In the ownership of the Fabricius family until 1755, the building was subsequently acquired by the counts Festetics. The architectural character of No 3 Szent György utca dates from he late 1770s. At one time the building functioned as the Jesuit Order's boarding school for boys. It was later converted to serve as an inn named Magyar Korona (Hungarian Crown).
No 5 Szent György utca or Prépost-ház (Provost House) was built during the 17th century. The baroque building was bequeathed to the Jesuit monks by Prince Pál Esterházy. In 1780, after the disbandment of the order, it became the residence of the provost of St George's Chapter. From 1788 it changed hands several times amongst various members of the nobility. The three-centred arch of the entrance opening is supported by Tuscan pilasters. The keystone is decorated with a grotesque carving resembling a lion's face above which the date 1644 appears.
No 7 Szent György utca, the Káptalan-ház (Chapter House) is a palatial baroque residence, commissioned around 1650 by town-clerk István Vitnyédi, legal advisor to and confidante of the great military leader Miklós Zrinyi. The stone carving above the entrance - engraved with he word Káptalan - depicts a large-moustachioed typically Hungarian face as well as a grotesque one with tongue extended. Legend has it that it was in this way that István Vitnyédi poked fun at the frugal burghers of Sopron, envious of his sumptuous residence. In return he was taken to court and forbidden to include in the no expense spared design an ornate balcony. Vitnyédi's wealth was subsequently confiscated and in 1674 the building passed into the ownership of the Jesuit Order. The Chapter of St George's acquired it in 1779.
The row of buildings, unusually tall for their era, that establishes Szent György utca's character is interrupted by Szent György templom (St George's Church) popularly known as the 'Dóm' (Cathedral). It is originally gothic with 17th century baroque additions. A chapel stood on the site as early as 1398. From the late 16th century the church belonged to the Protestants until in 1674 it was acquired by the Jesuit Order. A baroque bas relief depicting St Margaret and St George decorates the entrance. The rich interior stuccoes are the work of Pietro Antonio Conti, a Dalmatian artist who settled in Sopron. The three-storey building at No 9 Szent György utca was originally the Benedictine Order's high-school for boys which Pál Kitaibel the well-known natural scientist attended when young.
A baroque building of substantial interest, the Eggenberg-ház (No 12 Szent György utca) stands opposite the church. The coat of arms of the prince electors of Brandenburg decorates the entrance while the parapet of the first floor arcading is interrupted by a pulpit-like projection with the Hohenzollern coat of arms underneath. The Princess Eggenberg when owner of this house, fulfilled an important mission in the history of the Lutheran church in Sopron. She was permitted to have divine service held at her home when these were banned everywhere else in the city with the exception of the Lackner residence. In the years 1674-76 they were held here for the congregation gathering in the courtyard.
No 14 Szent György utca dates from the middle ages. Its exterior was much altered during the 18th centurry. The two-storey residence was originally owned by the Princess Eggenberg living next door, then passed into the ownership of the Lutheran church.
No 16 Szent György utca, the mansion of the counts Erdõdy, is Sopron's handsomest early rococo building. It retains its original architectural character almost perfectly. Pál Széchenyi archbishop of Kalocsa died here in 1710, having played the important political role of go-between in negotiations during the Rákóczi uprising.
No 11 Szent György utca opposite was named after Sopron's one-time leading traders, the Lenck family who commissioned the design. The Lenck átjáró (Lenck Passage) is a group of residential buildings and shops arranged around three linked courtyards that connect Szent György utca with Várkerület.
No 13 Szent György utca, the Kmetty House, was built in baroque style with an arcaded courtyard surrounded by a Tuscan colonnade.
The three-storey Sax House at No 22 Szent György utca dates from the middle ages. Its main façade was rebuilt in renaissance style. The rear entry point through Sopron's erstwhile fortifications, Hátsókapu, opened opposite the Sax House. Today its site is only indicated by a short street of the same name. The original gatehouse was demolished in 1821. Before we leave the historic nucleus via Hátsókapu, let us in parting look at the one-time residence of the patrician Kramer family. Its street façade was rebuilt in renaissance style in 1648. It is at No 1 Hátsókapu that we can see Sopron's first block of flats.
No 2 Hátsókapu opposite, a two-storey baroque residential building with corner balcony, is the Caesar House. It was here that the 1681 parliamentary session of the Upper House elected Prince Pál Esterházy to the office of palatine. The building is named after its last owner Dr Gyula Caesar and accommodates a permanent exhibition of watercolours painted by the outstanding local artist József Soproni Horváth. The main façades of the last two buildings overlook Várkerület. Between 1800 and 1835 No 8 Várkerület functioned as a grocer's named Arany Nap (Golden Sun). From 1850 to 1900 a similar shop called Fekete Elefánt (Black Elephant) occupied the ground floor.
No 3 Hátsókapu, the one-time Patikaház (Apothecary House) accommodated the Arany Korona patika (Golden Crown pharmacy) until the year 1866. A statue of St John of Nepomouk stands in a corner niche on the first floor of the richly decorated façade.
The building at No 4 Hátsókapu constructed in 1782 was at one time the residence of Ferenc Zoller master watchmaker who named it Sempronius House by way of a reminder of the apocryphal founder of the Roman city that was assumed to have been Sopron's predecessor.
Walks . . . * Welcome * 1. walk * 2. walk * 3. walk * 4. walk