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Interpret Europe Conference | 23-26 March 2018 in Kőszeg, Hungary | #iecon18

Study tours 25 March

General notes on the excursions

  • 15.00 Buses leave from the big parking lot next to the castle in 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: Savaria, or making history tangible – an example of heritage reconstruction and historic re-enactment approach (Iseum, Ruin Garden, Theme Park)

Szombathely, known as Savaria in Roman times, is the oldest recorded city in Hungary. It has a rich history and culture, but it is always a challenge to bring the past alive and make it palatable, yet authentic. This excursion will focus mostly on the Roman era, and some examples of how the city and museum curators try to link history to today’s visitors and local citizens, and how this heritage shapes their identity.

The two key sites to be visited are the Iseum Savariense and the Historic Theme Park.
We will have an insight into the background and process of the construction of the Iseum Savariense, dedicated mostly to the religious aspects of Roman life in the Province of Pannonia. As part of the complex built on top of ancient remains, the Isis temple was also reconstructed, bringing about debates on authenticity. The museum has won the “Museum of the Year” Award, granted by the Pulszky Society, i.e. the Hungarian Association of Museums.

The so-called Historic Theme Park was created on the grounds of the former and much neglected Franciscan Gardens, with a vision to be a site of hands-on and live interpretation and historic re-enactments. It is the hub of a major annual cultural event, the Savaria Historic Carnival, with spectacular re-enactment shows. We are to find out the approaches and practices this city takes in order to involve locals in cultural heritage programmes, and bring the city’s history and cultural heritage closer to them.

Option 2: Sonic Kőszeg – The city and music

This guided tour will introduce you to the various aspects of music history within the city of Kőszeg. It is little known that numerous famous composers have visited the city for shorter or longer periods to give concerts here. Indeed, the stars of their ages entertained the local citizens, thus Liszt gave a concert in the Bálház [Ballroom] on 27 September 1846, and Kodály was applauded by many at his concert in 1937. Some well-known musicians were actually born here. Perhaps the best known of them is the jazz musician, György Vukán, who travelled and gave concerts all over the world. Besides these “celebrities” we need to take note of the average music fans, who composed some pieces just for the sake of joy and self-entertainment. One such person was Kálmán Chernel, a historian, who has a musical heritage of ten pieces for the zither. You can listen to several pieces of music relevant to the particular locations.

The second part of the programme will be a joint workshop event with the participants from Option 3 (“Wars, sieges, disasters - a great history in a small city, Kőszeg”), and a great opportunity to find out more about the Talking Houses Project (see http://talkinghouseseurope.com).

Option 3: Wars, sieges, disasters - a great history in a small city, Kőszeg

The guided tour takes you back in time to explore the events and locations of sieges, political conflicts and disasters. While the city was lucky to be safe from the Mongolian invasion of 1241-42, contemporary sources mention it as “novum castrum Kyzug”, i.e. the “new fort”. The siege of 1279 was particularly devastating followed by decades of high tension. The situation became more settled only after the settlement had become a free Royal city in 1328. Another bloody event took place after Frederic III, Holy Roman Emperor, had besieged the city in the mid-15th century, when he had eighty citizens hanged without trial. The victory over the Turks in 1532 drew European attention to the city; however, the following two centuries have caused a lot of suffering to the citizens of Kőszeg. The city also played an important role during the several movements and revolts for independence. While the tour visits the key sites of events in far away centuries, it also recalls some tragic events of more recent times.

The second part of the programme will be a joint workshop event with the participants from Option 2 (“Sonic Kőszeg – The city and music”), and a great opportunity to find out more about the Talking Houses Project (see http://talkinghouseseurope.com).

Option 4: His story is history – the Iron Gate tour in Felsőcsatár and Bildein

After the fall of the Iron Curtain and the consequent political changes, Sándor Goják, a former border guard, felt the urge to collect objects and structures used along the Austrian and Hungarian state border after 1948. The artefacts of three main periods up to 1989 have been amended with a new addition resonating with the current events of migration, a much heated issue nowadays.

Mr. Goják’s mission is “to present a short, but brutal period of history to the younger generations that never should happen again! On the other hand, it is a homage to all those having lost their lives on the western border either as refugees or border guards.”  Mr. Goják’s commitment to collect and present every object he could possibly obtain is quite obvious and his personal story makes it almost tangible how international history is linked to a person’s life. The collection is located on his small vineyard just few metres away from the actual border that one cannot even distinguish from its environment today.

The village of Bildein/Beled, right on the border with Austria, sports an education trail dedicated to the broader topic of borders, considering political, social, even ecological and landscape aspects. Mr. Goják was a partner in its establishment.

Option 5: From War to Peace Castle – the Friedensburg Schlaining Castle

In the border region between the eastern foothills of the Alps mountain range and the Pannonian Basin, this castle was in the conflict area between rivalling powers and rulers for centuries. The "Amber road", a significant trade route since prehistoric times, ran within striking distance and added to the region's strategic relevance.

Since 2000, castle Schlaining has housed the "European museum for peace", a world-wide unique permanent exhibition all around the topic of peace....from interactive samples for the whole family to pieces of well known artists which invite you to engage with the topic. It is part of the Austrian Study Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution (founded 1982), an independent, non-profit and non-partisan organisation. It aims to contribute to the promotion of peace and peaceful conflict resolution and to the dissemination of practical ideas for peace, including its developmental and environmental aspects. While peace and conflict resolution are more understood as political terms, we might find out their links to and relevance in heritage and identity.

Option 6: “….indeed, this is the only place one can live at” -  Craftsmen’s Workshop System, Velem

The slogan of the village of Velem is “Múlt, jelen, Velem”. It is a pun that translates “Past, present, Velem”, (where Velem also means “with me”). Indeed the site evokes long gone heydays of an artisan community that has contributed to the fame and image of the village. Its roots can be traced back to the 1970’, the era when the so-called Táncház [dance house] movement (inscribed in the UNESCO Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage) developed. It is not only about dance and music, but much more about reviving and practicing folk traditions. At the height of the socialist era such an initiative could get support and subsidy relatively easily, thus the workshop buildings were set up and the community flourished, attracting artisans from all over the country and visitors from all over the world. These artisans themselves also embodied and lived the folk traditions. Tucked away in the peaceful hills, the site houses several workshops from blacksmith to wood carver.

With the political and socio-economic changes for the past decades, the initial structure of co-operation has disappeared leaving the site and the artisans in a kind of vacuum.

Despite the uncertainties this small and aging community is still driven by hope and enthusiasm. The occasional open-air events and live workshops still attract visitors and craftsmen from all over the country. You can try your hand at the various activities and trace the art work of this community within the village, but also ponder on the possible messages of the quotation carved in the symbolic gate of the site.

"I have had a dream about a gate anyone enters, as if they had submerged in a bath of spells, no matter where they are from, their heart is spell-bound, and, indeed, this is the only place one can live at “ (Gyula Illyés)

The tour will raise questions on the lifecycle of cultural initiatives and possibilities for revival, and how a cultural community can integrate into local community.

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