Sopron a lovely city in Hungary is located on the western border. It sort of creates a bridge between Hungary and its western neighbors. On the southern side of the Firewatch Tower you can find the “Gate of Faith” which is the symbol of this city, made in memory of the referendum of 1921. Sopron has become a holiday resort being so close to Lake Ferto and Lake Neusied and being surrounded by a natural environment of wooded hillsides and mountain springs. The hilly area found south of the city known as the Loverek offers visitors strolls in lovely forests with oaks, chestnuts and spruces, beautiful lilies of the valley and cyclamens, hiking paths and lookout towers for awesome views. Sopron is in a wine growing region so it features excellent wines and visitors can visit the different wineries here.
Goat Church was built by the Franciscan order who founded their monastery right in the center of town about 1280. The church that they built became known as “the goat church” a great example of Hungarian Gothic architecture. When the Franciscan monastic order was dissolved in 1787 Benedictine monks took over. The church became the place for coronations and parliamentary sessions. The Goat Church has an incredible tower making it one of the most impressive buildings on the Main Square. Visitors can delight in the masterpieces of Fresco artists and other artists; view the lancet windows and the unusual Capistran pulpit. The late Baroque door of the Benedictine Monastery next door leads one to the Chapter House which displays lovely works of early Gothic religious architecture. At first it was a prayer house, then a burial chapel and later on became a Loretto chapel. During archaeological excavations Gothic pillars were unveiled. One can see masks and figures with human heads and animal bodies hidden within the leaf ornaments of these pillars and they represent the seven original sins.
At the highest point in Sopron visitors will find the Szent Michael Church. This is the oldest church in the city and dedicated to St. Michael. It was originally Romanesque but was later reconstructed in the Gothic style. It is fascinating to see the lancet windows of the tower and the round balcony of the steeple. The neo-Gothic altar was designed by the restorer Ferenc Storno. Inside the church visitors can see preserved 15th century statues and fragments of wall paintings. There is an impressive wooden Madonna that was carved about 1460-1470. Out in the churchyard the earliest gravestones date back to the 17th century and some are in late Renaissance style.
Don’t pass up a chance to see Fabricius House from the 17th century. Especially interesting is the Gothic Hall as is the loggia in the courtyard and the Gothic and Baroque cellars at the rear of this building. Archeologists uncovered a Roman bath in the basement. This house was named after one of its owners, Endre Fabricius, mayor and magistrate. Today this building features three exhibitions – a Roman lapidarium in the basement, an archeological exhibition “Three-thousand years on the Amber Road” which is seen on two floors at the back of the house. Rooms on the first and second floors at the front feature 17th and 18th century burgher homes with furniture and objects from that time.
At the northern end of the Main Square is the Firewatch Tower that counts as the symbol of Sopron. This round shaped tower was built on the remains of the Roman age town wall. There is a Baroque balcony and helm roof. You can see a double-headed eagle on the tower which was a gift from King Ferdinand II and Queen Eleonora. From the balcony after climbing up a spiral staircase of 200 steps one can get an amazing view of this historic city.
Of great interest is the Storno-House which is a Baroque corner house with bay windows and is one of the most attractive houses on the Main Square. In 1840 and 1881 composer Franz Liszt gave two concerts here. Some of the most remarkable things to see are the richly decorated bay window, the arched doorway that has the Festetic family’s coat of arms between two Tuscan half pillars and the door knockers with pelican motives. In the 15th century Sopron’s first pharmacy the Black Elephant operated here. On the first floor is a local history exhibition and the second floor has a 19th century art and furniture collection on display.
At one time Ursula Square was the salt market in medieval times and later slaughter-houses stood here. The Ursuline order instituted a convent and school and built a church on the square. The two story building found here today dates back to 1860 created by architect Nandor Handler. In the oratory of the convent you’ll find the Roman Catholic Ecclesiastical Art Collection. In the middle of the square is the Fountain of Mary and was a present of atonement by citizens to the Franciscan order.
Don’t pass up a chance to visit this marvelous city. There is so much more to do and see like taking cruises upon Lake Neusied.