Interpret Europe Conference | 23-26 March 2018 in Kőszeg, Hungary | #iecon18
Study tours 24 March
General notes on the excursions
- 13.00 Buses leave from the big parking lot next to the castle in Kőszeg
- All study tour participants will come together at the Esterházy Palace, Fertőd for dinner, then leave for Kőszeg
- The study visits will include some level of translation.
- Some programmes are more sensitive to the weather. You can enhance your experience by wearing comfortable and warm clothing, and boots/sneakers, as well as by having rain gear with you.
Option 1: On the verge of living and recollected traditions – the Sarród and Fertőhomok country houses (part of the WHS)
The country houses are mostly ethnographical collections with authentic objects preserved in situ and often donated by locals. They present the traditional material culture of a given settlement or region through home interiors (displayed in buildings that are themselves important from the perspective of vernacular architecture) and sometimes also workshops, farm buildings, or simpler industrial facilities. There are hundreds of operating country houses in Hungary.
The Sarród country house aspires to be a site of live programmes showcasing local history and traditions. As such, they organise workshops on traditional handicrafts no longer practiced (such as reed-weaving), and have a series of community programmes linked to major holidays. A small archaeological collection is also housed here where the collector and local historian regularly hosts off-school history lessons for local children. You can participate in live presentations, and also try some old trades.
The Fertőhomok country house is a testimony of the Croat ethnic minority and a rich vernacular heritage. It houses permanent and temporary exhibitions, but from time to time it becomes the hub of live events, where locals practice their traditions, be it wearing traditional costumes or playing and singing their songs. Thus it plays an important role in sustaining local traditions and local identity, even if vernacular culture has changed dramatically for the past half a century. It is also a sub-site of the serial site of The Network of Rural Heritage Buildings in Hungary included in the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List.
Each of these country houses has been established as an answer to the locals’ need to sustain their cultural heritage. However, the socio-economic changes of the past decades ever increase the gap between everyday life and the cultural heritage lived and customs practiced on special occasions. Do these houses really have a potential to become a benchmark of presenting and practicing local traditions and even qualify as units of a serial World Heritage site?
Option 2: Building and collapse of empires: the former stone-quarry in Fertőrákos and the Pan-European Picnic Memorial Place
The now peaceful site of the Fertőrákos stone-quarry has a long and controversial history, reaching as far back as the Roman Empire. Several public and private buildings of Sopron and Vienna were built from this limestone, including the Natural History Museum and the Votive Church in Vienna, to name but a few. During its long history it has served several purposes; it used to be a site of terror for political prisoners, but today houses the cave theatre that features several shows and concerts every year. As a result of a recent development, it also admits visitors interested in the natural history and geology of the region.
The Pan-European Picnic Memorial Place is near Sopron, at Piuszpuszta. It is the very place of the peace demonstration, a historic event signposting the collapse of the “Iron Curtain” and its socio-political aftermaths. The site was awarded the European Heritage Label in 2015.
Option 3: The nature-culture journey: visiting the Fertő/Neusiedlersee Cultural Landscape World Heritage Site NOW FULL!!!
Visiting a World Heritage cultural landscape, it is inevitable to learn about both natural and cultural aspects. The “nature-culture journey” is a current theme promoted by IUCN and ICOMOS, too.
The programme will start at Sarród-Lászlómajor. This farm complex of the former Esterházy estate serves as the Fertő-Hanság National Park interpretive site of traditional Hungarian domestic animal breeds and of the history of the area today. Ever since its establishment, the national park directorate has considered it a responsibility to provide a sanctuary to these traditional breeds, and sustain this agro-biological heritage that once almost went extinct. It was also in the best interest of habitat management, as these extensive breeds and their grazing have played an important role in shaping this landscape. By taking over this site, the national park directorate has also saved a little piece of history and cultural heritage, while some architecture solutions have brought controversial results, too.
After an introduction to the area and the interpretive activities of the FHNP and visiting the grounds, you will have the opportunity to explore the wildlife of the endless reed marshes in an eco-friendly boat. By the end of the day you will hopefully have a better understanding of the qualities and attributes of the World Heritage cultural landscape, particularly of traditional land use practices. And while we tend to think about cultural landscapes as a “product” of human activity, it is equally important to realise how the landscape and nature have shaped and influenced people’s everyday life.
Option 4: Repurposed past serving nature conservation: visiting the Fertő/Neusiedlersee Cultural Landscape World Heritage Site by bike
The programme will start at Sarród-Lászlómajor. This agriculture centre of the former Esterházy estate serves as the Fertő-Hanság National Park interpretive site of traditional Hungarian domestic animal breeds and of the history of the area today.
After an introduction to the site and the interpretive activities of the FHNP, you will have the opportunity to visit Lászlómajor itself. Then you can immerse in the World Heritage cultural landscape by riding a bike. On-site guided interpretation will give you an insight into the history of the landscape and today’s nature conservation challenges at the short stops en-route. The final stop is the FHNP environmental education centre, housed in a former border guard garrison, reminiscent of the Iron Curtain era. There will be plenty of opportunities to discuss how the National Park has combined traditional land use and agro-biological heritage, and how the built heritage has been integrated in the conservation and interpretive practices.
Option 5: Another Sopron – addressing locals about their city (The hidden Sopron guided tour and the Macskakő [Cobble Stone] Museum)
This visit of Sopron is a kind of “2 in 1” experience. A short costumed guided tour will take you to the Celtic and Roman Sopron. The walk is entitled the “Hidden Sopron”, as it includes underground sites and places rarely seen by the public.
The Macskakő [Cobble Stone] Museum is a children’s museum and community space. This small museum is housed in the Eggenberg House, right in the heart of the city centre, and an interesting historic house in its own right. The hands-on exhibition encourages children to explore the history of their city and mostly the lifestyles of former ages taking them on a time travel, as the exhibition slogan also suggests – “You are just one thought away from anytime.”. The museum was an immediate success with kindergarten and primary school groups and families with smaller children, justifying its gap-filling role.
As part of its mission the facility welcomes community initiatives and events, becoming a pro-active member of the network of city institutions. The museum is also a unit of the City Museums of Sopron, and the forerunner of the developments and refurbishments of the main museum units in the near future. The curators welcome your comments and are looking forward to a lively discussion on pre-selected issues. One of these can definitely be how the increasing number of newly settling residents can relate to the city and its cultural heritage, and how particular interpretive programmes can address them.
Dinner at the Esterházy Palace, Fertőd
The Hungarian Versailles, as it is often called, will host all participants for dinner.
While there will be no particular interpretive programme here, the very site and its atmosphere will make this experience truly relevant for the conference theme, and a remarkable event for all.