A city, with a unique ancient atmosphere
Sopron’s downtown is unique in Hungary. It preserved its medieval street structure till this day, mostly in baroque style, and its old buildings have survived the devastation of the past centuries.
Sopron’s brief history
The city is boasting of adjectives: loyalty, freedom, the city of the “Kékfrankos” known as the Blue Français grape as well and the gateway to the West. Almost every building in the Old Town is a historical building, with relics dating back to the Roman times.
Sopron was granted free royal city rights in 1277 and was considered one of the most important and richest cities in medieval Hungary. In the Big Turkish times, it was one of the main centers of the Austrian-ruled Hungary beside Bratislava. The city was surprisingly bypassed by the Turkish destruction, although later, in 1676 a major fire destroyed most of the town’s buildings, and the subsequent Baroque look, that is visible today, was rebuilt since that time. After the Trianon Peace Treaty, the fate of the city and its surroundings was decided in a referendum, this is how, a city that already has been populated predominantly by Germans returned being a city in Hungary. Since then, Sopron has been called the city of loyalty.
Sopron has a significant amount of tourist attractions due to its numerous monuments and beautiful natural surroundings. The city center, bursting in attractions, is very compact, easy to walk around, and easy access to some of the more distant destinations even by a longer walking distance or local public transport. The easiest way to stop by car is in the Castle District at a paid parking lot, that is all the area surrounding the city center.
A walk in the city
The main square and its surroundings
The most important monuments of the city are located in the main square, which is closed from the traffic. The most distinctive building in the city is the Fire Tower, from which is the best to start exploring the city. In the middle of the Baroque Main Square we can find one of the most beautiful and oldest statues of the Holy Trinity dating from 1701. Almost every building in the square is worth a look, but one of the richest collections of antique furniture and ornaments in Hungary is located here in the home of the Storno family. There is also an interesting archaeological and local exhibition in one the of the nearby houses, that’s called the Fabricius House, but also the Civic Homes are worth a visit.
Attractions outside the city center
Less than a ten-minute walk north of the center, another significant ecclesiastical monument in Sopron is the Gothic Church of St. Michael and the adjacent Chapel of St. James. On the way, be sure to look at the popular baroque style Két Mór house at nr. 9 Szent Mihály street.
After (or instead of) visiting the historical monuments and exhibitions, it is worth taking relaxing walks to the south, in the Sopron Mountains. The hill-climbing villa district of the city is called Lövérek, with its city swimming pool and several high-quality hotels. If you only desire for a short walk, choose the Károly Lookout Tower, or the Sörházdomb Lookout Tower, which is even closer.
The Fire Tower – Tűztorony
The symbol of the city of Sopron is the Fire Tower. The lower cylindrical part was built on Roman wall remains, in the XIII. From the 16th century onwards, it served as the northern gate tower of the city walls. It got its present shape, baroque round balcony and helmet after the great fire of 1676. It was the duty of the Fire Tower guards to watch the surroundings at night with lanterns and daytime colored flags indicating the direction of the fire pit.
Sopron’s Main Square is the most spectacular square in the city with many attractions.
Exploring the Baroque-style Main Square and its buildings is well worth a visit. Here, all the buildings are listed under monument protection, their location has not changed since the 13th century. In Roman times, the Scarbantia Forum (city center) was here, as well as the Amber Road. During the 2010 renovations, some of it was found at a depth of 4 meters. The main square gained its present image after the great fire of 1676.