Photo Exhibition “The Re-discovery of The Amber Road” in Sopron / Hungary

On saturday, July 9th, 2011, at 3pm, in Sopron / Hungary there will be the opening of a new photo exhibition by Markus Zohner: ”The Re-discovery of The Amber Road”.

The exhibition will take place in the “Cultural Center Franz Liszt” in Sopron, and will last till the end of August, 2011.

Markus Zohner, together with the Mayor of Sopron, will be present at the opening on July 9th, at 3pm.

During his nine months walk from Venice to St. Petersburg, Markus Zohner, in february 2009 arrived to Sopron, an important milestone on the Ancient European Amber Road. Sopron, which in roman times was calles SCARBANTIA, is a beautiful town in western Hungary, close to the Austrian Border. It is rich of Cultural Heritages, and hosts wonderful historical treasures.

Here are Markus Zohner’s  notes about his visit to Sopron on February, 11th, 2010.



And some more information about Sopron:

Sopron is situated near the western borders of Hungary, at the foot of the Alps, 60 km from Vienna and 220 km from Budapest. It is one of the oldest jewelboxes of the country. Sopron merges past and present in itself. It creates a bridge between Hungary and its western neighbours, opening a gate for foreign guests visiting Hungary, as it is symbolized by the coat of arms of the city.

The inhabitants of the city are famed for their hospitality and loyalty to their hometown. This is also symbolized by the ‘Gate of Faith’, which can be found on the southern side of the Firewatch Tower, the symbol of the city, and which was made in memory of the referendum of 1921.

The City Hallwas built in 1896, in the year of the Hungarian Millennium. Opposite it, the Storno House is one of the most well-known buildings of the city, thanks to its highlyinteresting collection. Even King Matthias stayed overnight between these walls.

The Goat Church provided a venue for coronations and parliamentary sessions. The Holy Trinity Statue is a masterpiece of the Hungarian baroque, while theneo-gothic Ursuline Church isone of the most impressive architectural monuments of the past century.

Varkerulet was built along the former moat, its inner row of houses following the line of the castle wall. A gem of Varkerulet is the Maria Statue.

The artistic traditions of the city are nearly seventy years old, and go back to a time which is often referred to as the golden age of the city.

The curative and recreating air of the natural environment, the hiking routes of the wooded hillsides, the view towers, the mountain springs, and the proximity of Lake Ferto make Sopron one of the most beautiful and most pleasant holiday resorts of Hungary. The Loverek, the hilly area south of the city, is the most fascinating and most distinguished recovery area of the city. Calm forests with spruces, oaks and chestnuts, lilies of the valley and cyclamens, hiking paths and lookout towers – these are the attractions of the Loverek.

Another attraction of the historic town of Sopron is represented by theexcellent wines of the region, so the city is becoming increasingly popular among those who would like to satisfy their thirst with noble wines.

The castle-like Baroque corner house is one of the most attractive sights of the Main Square. In the 15th century it was the property of the Haberleiter family, and provided accommodation for King Matthias in 1482 and 1483, when he assaulted the town of Vienna. The building became the property of the Festetics familyin the 18th century, when it got its final shape. The Storno family purchased the building in 1872. It was the venue of two concerts played by Ferenc Liszt, in 1840 and 1881. The most eye-catching characteristics of the building are the closed, round, two-storey corner balcony with its rich ornamentation, the basket-arched gate with the Festetics familys coat of arms between the two Tuscan half pillars, and the knockers with their pelican motifs. Soprons first apothecary, the Black Elephant was operating in this building in the 15th century.

The family originates from Tessin Province in Switzerland. Older Ferenc Storno was born in Kismarton (Eisenstadt) in 1821, and grew up in Landshut. His drawing talent revealed itself very early, but the poor chimney-sweeper family could not afford to finance his education. He was forced to continue his father’s profession but he spent all his leisure time drawing. He settled in Sopron in 1845, and soon after he found a job with a chimney-sweeper master. After the master’s death, he married the widow to carry on the business. He soon became the most popular restorer of the Monarchy, thanks to his mentors, who recognized and appreciated his talent. He had the possibility of working in Vienna for a few months in 1850. He dealt with the valuation of monuments and the design of objects for Prince Leopold Habsburg among others. He started working in Hungarian monument research in 1860.

He took part, among other things, in the restoration of the St. Mihaly Church in Sopron and the reconstruction of the crypt and the church in Pannonhalma Abbey. From the 1870s onwards, he worked with his sons, Ferenc and Kalman. In accordance with the family traditions, the boys were chimney-sweepers by profession, but also studied art at foreign academies. Ferenc Storno was the saviour of a lot of art treasures, which served as the basis for the famous Storno Collection. The rooms, decorated with antique furniture as well as the works of family members, give a true picture of interior design at the end of the 19th century. The collection comprises valuable items of furniture, weaponry, china and glass art, which can be seen on the second floor, where the family lived from 1875 to 1984.

Fabricius House Sopron, 6. Main square

One of the most interesting features of the building is the Roman bath discovered by archeologists in the basement of the building. Back in the 16th century, there were two buildings on the plot, the one at the back two-storied. The Gothic hall is a wonderful piece of architecture, but the loggia in the courtyard and the Gothic and Baroque cellars of the rear building also deserve special attention. The owners of the building were always rich citizens and traders with high ranking social positions. The house is named after a one-time owner, mayor and magistrate Endre Fabricius, who purchased the house in 1806. He was a friend of the poet Sandor Petofi, who changed his clothes in this house after escaping from the barracks to attend the concert of Ferenc Liszt. The building hosts three exhibitions.

The cellar hides stone remains from Scarbantia, the Roman town: headstones, altar stones, statues, sepulchral urns of stone, sarcophagi. But what can these boring stones tell us about Roman times? Well, for the interested visitor they begin speaking! A whole life can be gathered by reading the notes of a headstone. The oldest item of the collection is a piece of Marcus Vibius’ headstone (found in 1541), the lower part of which was destroyed during the fire of 1676. The city council found it very important to preserve this precious relic, so the original text on the stone is perfectly intelligible, although the copy is far from being an accurate replica. The impressive hall of the medieval cellar is a worthy environment to accommodate the several-meter high sculptures of the Capitolium Gods. The sanctuary of the great marble statues of Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva, which are fascinating even in their torso form, were originally standing on the forum of Scarbantia. The richly ornamented marble headstone of Casius Sexilius Senecio and the relief from the altar of the Mithras Sanctuary are also of exceptional value.

The archeological exhibition “Three-thousand years on the amber road” can be seen on two floors of the backside building. The rich findings demonstrate the life and culture of the one-time Illyrian, Celtic and Roman population of the area, the way of life of the conquering Hungarians, as well as the process of Sopron becoming a town of importance. Also to be seen here is a world famous finding from the early iron age – the Sun Disk. The original function of the disk is still unknown. It is worth visiting the Illyrians’ sepulchral urns decorated with black runic scripts, the firedogs, as well as the Celts’ coins and jewels. The amber jewels and the gold and silver objects of everyday use demonstrate the unbelievable richness of the Roman period. The most valuable piece of the migration period is the Cunpald Goblet, with its estimated age of 1200 years. The rooms on the first and second floors of the front building show the changes of interior design between the 17th and 18th centuries, by presenting objects and furniture of the time. We can witness the shift from more puritan pieces of furniture to more demanding items.

Forum of Scarbantia (the roman name of Sopron), 1st New str

Scarbantia (the Roman name of Sopron) was one of the border stations of the Province of Pannonia in the one-time Roman Empire. Its outstanding importance was due to its situation on the Amber Road, an important commercial route. The centre of the town, the present downtown, was surrounded with a wall and a moat. The structure of the fortress also influenced the tracing of the streets. The center of the Roman oppidum was the Forum. The most important building on the Forum, the Capitolium Church, was discovered in the winter of 1893, during the construction of the City Hall. The exact size and position of the Forum was finally determined during the excavations between 1960 and 1970. The cover slabs of the one-time square were made of the Lajta limestone delivered here from the quarry of Fertorakos. The pedestals of three bronze equestrian statues were found on the southern part of the square, while on various sides of the Forum altars of different gods were discovered. The churches of the three main gods – Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva – were situated at the highest point of the town.

In view of gladiator games, the group of buildings was characterized by large intercolumnation distances, exchange offices in the peristyles, and upstairs balconies. Scarbantia was functioning as a real Roman town – the Italian traveller could find everything they expected here: a crowded market, sanctuaries of gods, a comfortable bath, and, naturally, gladiator games. By presenting parts of the monumental architectural work, the exhibition recalls life in the one-time Roman town. Note that the Forum of Sopron is the only one in the former Province of Pannonia which was fashioned according to a Roman style.