Through my eyes

living my life without regrets

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Sopron, Hungary - Eisenstadt, Austria

Sopron, Hungary  -  Eisenstadt Austria

Joseph Haydn Bust

The Esterhazy Palace Is Now In The Center of Eisenstadt
It was just a hop, about 90 minutes from Bratislava, Slovakia (Pressburg) to SopronHungary. The actual city we wanted to visit however was Eisenstadt in Austria. But again, the prices for hotels in Eisenstadt were way too high. So we went to the Hungarian side and saved a lot of money.
In The Center Of The Courtyard Of The Haydn Museum
I know you wonder why I would go to Eisenstadt, you probably never heard of it. Eisenstadt, what is there? Ah, it’s the music lover in me. Eisenstadt was the Pleasure Castle or Hunting Castle of the Esterhazy Family. And the Esterhazy clan hired Joseph Haydn, the father of classical String Quartet music. For 40 years Haydn composed and worked for the elite of the Austrian Empire. Well, actually he worked for the Esterhazy family but also had occasions to teach pupils such as Mozart or even Beethoven and many more. No wonder they called him Papa Haydn. When you think of Eisenstadt you think of Haydn and also Esterhazy, the Hungarian Royal House. Eisenstadt was one of their castles. They were a complicated family with many family members and inter-relationships.
The American Tourist Hans
Ceiling In The Chapel 
I took the tourist tour but was more interested in the fact that this man Joseph Haydn, composed here. He might have walked where I now walk. He might even have sat in town having a coffee where I sat and had my coffee. It made me smile inside to realize that the world has changed to allow me, a commoner, to sit and talk where only the highest elite once lived. I read that Eisenstadt Palace in its prime was compared with Versailles. Well I have seen both, and no, Eisenstadt is not even close. Maybe it is the town encroaching onto the Palace Grounds today that makes this building a bit ordinary or not so special, maybe it was the way the Austrian Government rebuilt or refurbished the place that made it not equal to Versailles, or it might be just me. I am kind of jaded by now, I have seen too much.  The inside walls are not real, for example. Printed cloth is used to give the impression of ‘walls’ and architectural details are printed on the ‘walls’ that give a fairly good illusion, but after you see it, and know it, you know it’s not real. So yes, I have seen the Palace in Eisenstadt but only after the Restoration and what is left of it and what is shown to the tourist.
I read that, after Paul Anton Esterhazy and especially Nikolaus Esterhazy died the rest of the family did not like the Palace at Eisenstadt at all and abandoned it; left it to go to ruins. Rain and neglect took its toll on the palace and in no time it was a pile of rubble. To rebuild it would have cost a fortune and the Austrian Government had really no use for the place. So what to do? What they did do to the Buildings served a purpose, and tourists come to Eisenstadt, spend money, help the economy, listen to concerts, drink coffee in the coffee houses and all is well. True to Austrian ways, they have Sacher Torte to eat and even an Esterhazy Schnitte, cakes you just have to have when you are in Austria. Yes, we had those cakes in the coffee shop inside the castle. We were tourists! 

And then there is the music. Wonderful music!  The German National Anthem was written by Haydn, for example. He called it the Emperor Quartet and here is a sample of it. (click on the blue name) By the way, all the pictures you see on this YouTube clip are Germany. Great Stuff!    
Those Guys Played Well And Had Fun Entertaining The Public

We heard it played with a Brass group and it was done very well. The Tuba Player was really into it and fun to watch. I felt like a kid listening to great music.

For Serious Concert Goers - It Had An Air To It.
No matter that Eisenstadt was and is in disrepair, Haydn’s music lives on.  The music will be around for centuries to come, it’s a repertoire, a staple of any Baroque performance. And if you are like me, who loves classical music, then Eisenstadt is a must visit. There is still a very fancy concert hall in the palace. It is still a hub of classical performances, music lives here. Not just the old stuff, but modern Jazz too.

Portrait Of 'Sisi', A Troubled Soul 
It helps to know a bit of Hungarian History; who Sisi was (Empress Elizabeth) and why she was so loved by the Hungarians. (She learned their language and could talk to the common folks, a difficult language to learn).

This corner of Europe, somehow, still honors the Royals and the era around the Hapsburgs. It was the center of the Holy Roman Empire for many years and it still shows today.
Then A Columned Something, Now A Coffee Shop
Can You See All The Horses That Used To Live Here ?
Bratislava had the German name of Pressburg then. Half the population of Pressburg was Austrian/German at the turn of the 19 Century. Eisenstadt was a center of culture but also a bit in the sticks then, so hunting was a big deal. A totally different time, but it left traces of the golden age that can still be seen today. Some of the old buildings are still being used. Old horse stables are storage places today for example. Old office buildings are made into coffee shops. Etc.
Roman Catholicism Was Their Religion
Saint ?  
We took a guided tour through the Palace to see where Sisi lived part time. We visited the Chapel; saw the relics of some Saint, whose name I forgot.
A Cute Pair, Don't You Think ?
We played tourists.  To ride the bikes from Sopron to Eisenstadt took all of 20 minutes in the morning. We found a good parking spot, stuffed all our riding gear, including boots, into the empty (we left stuff at the hotel) saddle bags and had a wonderful day. The weather was on our side. Blue sky, Perfect temperature. Eisenstadt is about 1 hour southeast from Vienna, near the Hungarian Border, look at a map    

Blue Sky, A Perfect Day For A Visit
I Try Not To Be Too Serious !
Worth a visit if you like Classical Music. 

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