The Hungarian city of Sopron is perhaps best described by the motto inscribed on the gate of the old tower: “The most faithful citizens.” This inscription appeared on the gates in memory of how the people of Sopron wished to remain part of their native Hungary.
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Having visited this city, you will have no doubt that the townspeople still love their homeland and honor its rich history to this day.
How to get there
The city of Sopron is located in the north-west of Hungary, near the border with Austria (only 6 kilometers away). The distance from the Hungarian capital Budapest is about 220 kilometers.
Despite the fact that Sopron is a Hungarian city, it is most convenient to get to it from the Austrian Vienna. Vienna is only 60 kilometers away (and Budapest, for comparison, 220 kilometers away). Trains to Sopron run quite often from the Wien Meidling station, the journey takes just over an hour, it is also convenient to travel by car (the journey takes about an hour or even faster).
A settlement on the site of modern Sopron has existed since ancient times, in particular, in the era of the Roman Empire, a city called Skarbantia was founded here. The city had a very favorable location, as it lay on the trade route (the so-called “Amber Road”), which connected the Baltic States and Southern Europe. After the destruction of Rome by the barbarian tribes, the same fate befell Scarbantia. The future city of Sopron found a new life only with the arrival of the Magyars in these parts. It is known that in the 11th century city fortifications and a castle were built here.
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Sopron got its modern Hungarian name after one of its owners.
Sopron developed rapidly, and already in the 13th century received the status of a free royal city. However, the Turkish invasion of Hungary also affected it, the city was sacked by the conquerors in 1529, but thanks to desperate resistance, the Turks failed to establish full control. Thus, Sopron became a kind of center of attraction for refugees from all over the country fleeing the brutal Turkish hordes, which led to its growth.
After the end of the First World War and the collapse of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, according to peace treaties, the north-west of Hungary was to go in favor of Austria. But Hungary opposed these decisions and refused to give up the city. In 1921, the countries agreed that the fate and national identity of ancient Sopron should be decided by a plebiscite. In the winter of 1921, following a plebiscite, 65 percent of the inhabitants voted for the city to remain part of Hungary, which was done. And the day of December 14 has been celebrated as a city holiday ever since. Today’s Sopron is a beautiful place with superbly preserved monuments of historical heritage.
Entertainment and attractions of Sopron
The historical center of the city has been well preserved despite all the troubles that have befallen the city over the long history of its existence. The center was built mainly in the Baroque style in the 16th and 17th centuries. But in Sopron, typical medieval houses are also preserved, standing on narrow winding streets, Gothic churches and towers. There are even ruins here that remind us of the distant era of the Roman Empire and the city of Scarbantia.
Sopron’s central square is truly a pearl of baroque architecture. In the center of the square, as in many other cities in Europe, there is a plague column or the column of the Holy Trinity, built in 1680 in memory of the victims of a terrible disease that raged across the continent. There are houses around, almost each of which is an architectural monument. The most famous are the “House of Gambrinus”, “House of Shtorno” and “House of the General”.
Around the main square of Sopron there are houses, almost every one of which is an architectural monument.
One of the main medieval sights of the city is the temple, popularly known as the “Goat Church”. The church was erected in the 13th century, however, after that it was completed, rebuilt, restored more than once, thanks to which the building of the temple combines the features of both Gothic and Baroque styles. The Benedictine monastery, built in the 14th century, also belongs to medieval monuments.
The Church of St. George, built in the 17-18 centuries, changed its confessional affiliation more than once. Until 1674, it was a Protestant temple, after the appearance of the ubiquitous Catholic order of the Jesuits in these parts, the church was transferred to them. The church is a striking example of baroque architecture. Its bell tower was erected later than the main building – in 1882.
A 60-meter fire tower rises above Sopron, built in the 11th century on the foundation left after the Roman rule, but since then it has been repeatedly rebuilt and therefore lost its original appearance. The gates at the bottom of the tower are noteworthy – they are decorated with the inscription in Latin “Civitas Fidelissima”, which means “The most faithful citizens” (in memory of the plebiscite of 1921, when the inhabitants of Sopron voted for their city to remain part of Hungary). The gate, which is not surprising, is called the “Gate of Loyalty”.
Another attraction of the city is the Old Synagogue. The old synagogue is really not young, it was built in 1379 and is considered one of the oldest in Europe. In Sopron, before the Second World War, a significant number of citizens of the Jewish faith lived. There is also a museum of the famous Hungarian composer Franz Liszt in the city.
Hungarians are very sensitive to traditions and national crafts, so a great many colorful festivals and all kinds of fairs are held here. Most of these events are held in the summer, at the height of the tourist season.
Not far from Sopron is the Ferte-Hansag National Park with a picturesque lake and the pine forests of Leverek. So lovers of outdoor recreation will definitely have something to do in the vicinity of the city. Also near Sopron is the famous castle
Esterhazy, which is often called the “Hungarian Versailles”.