Güssing: A Chunk of Hungary in the Burgenland
Güssing is a small community in the rural South of the Burgenland. The origin of Güssing can be tracked back to a small "suburbium", a settlement that grew around the local castle. In 1427, the community was big enough to develop an urge for independent administration and since then is referred to as "civitas".
The heyday of the town came in the 16th century, when the local Count Franz Batthyany was granted the permission to start iron ore mines. In 1549, this privilege was supplemented with the right to organised markets - a tradition still maintained with a farm market on the first Monday of every month.
Güssing soon became a city with a central and free administration. In 1619, the city was fortified with walls. Most of the historic city centre dates back to this time. Güssing was made a city in the modern sense of the word only in 1973 - yet it is still far from being a metropolis (or significantly more than a village, really). Today, tourists usually come to the region for the nearby spas and combine this stay in the Burgenland with a day-trip to Güssing. The local castle is also one of the most impressive buildings that are part of the "Road of the Castles".
Güssing: Medieval walls on Volcanic Rock
Burg Güssing is located on the remains of an inactive volcano. It is popular for its Gothic chapel, its general prettiness and the local museum. In the town, you can immerse yourself in the historic centre; note the parish church, which is based on a Romanesque building dating back to 1200. Considering that the entire Burgenland was sacked, looted, plundered and flattened repeatedly since then by various people of which the Turks were only the most notorious ones, it is quite remarkable that the building has survived.
There is also a Franciscan monastery, which was once part of the city walls and served as a bastion. The church Maria Heimsuchung was built in 1638 and has some interesting Renaissance features, yet its most important attraction is the family tomb of the Counts of Batthyani. It is said to be the second-largest tomb of its kind in Austria and contains a "Prunksarg" ("show-off coffin") designed by Moll, of whom I think that he might be the one who designed the coffins in the Kapuzinergruft in Vienna.
In the East of Güssing, you can also see the castle of the Draskovic family in neo-Classical architecture. Beyond that, I recommend to just stroll around in the city centre and enjoy the relaxing flow of life in the Burgenland. If you go to Güssing in summer, check out whether anything is on in the castle - it serves as a venue for
open-air theatre productions. In mid-August, there is also a Medieval fair
that attracts thousands of visitors - which must be almost the entire population of the Burgenland.
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