Hungary > Sopron
At every step you are aware that you are walking on the soil of Pannonia,
a former Roman province, even without looking for ancient monu¬ments in Sopron's
well-stocked museums. All you need do to meet the distant past is set out on
a walk along the organised tourist paths of the Ldverek, the hill which rises
over the city. A signpost between the trees warns that now you are crossing
the Roman Amber Road, the main north-south road of the Empire, which linked
Savaria (Szombathely) with Scarbantia (Sopron). In this city of sub-Alpine climate,
the millennia have built, one above the other, the Forum of Roman times, the
medieval city wall, the Baroque and Renaissance buildings for the middle classes,
Gothic and Baroque churches, medieval synagogues and nineteenth-century palaces.
In terms of historical buildings, Sopron is one of the richest of cities. The
symbol of Sopron is the Fire Tower. Naturally, a fire watchman no longer serves
there, and the tower houses exhibitions. Fragments of statues and stones from
the Roman forum can be seen here. The building, however, is far more famous
for the group of statues placed on its facade: Hungaria gathers round herself
the faithful citizens of the town. The work reminds us that in the distribution
of land after the First World War, the people of Sopron held a referendum to
decide whether to belong to Austria or Hungary, and they chose Hungary.
It is said that Sopron is "a museum city, and a city of museums".
Those who see the old buildings and palaces built for the middle-class "burghers"
not only from the outside, but take up the invitation displayed on the main
doors, will see a great variety of exhibitions: an apothecary's museum, a mining
and forestry museum in palaces of the nobility, a pastry museum in a former
baker's house, and a Lutheran museum and a Catholic church history collection
in the churches - not to mention the numerous art galleries. The most famous
wine of the city, Kekfrankqs, can be tasted in the cellars within the city limits.
The region around the city, the Sopron Hills, the Balfi Hills, the vineyards,
the thermal baths and the excellent swimming pool in Bait (B4), and the concert
halls of the former quarry in Fertorakos all indicate that Sopron is not to
be passed by, but lived in a little.