Fertő/Neusiedlersee Cultural Landscape
Inscribed on the World Heritage List: 2001
Mysterious salt lake, marsh, moorland and forests of reeds, romantic landscape with a thousand faces - these are the images conjured up by the mention of Fertő. Although cut in two by state borders since the year 1920, geologically and historically the site is still unified, and it has unique natural, landscape, architectural and settlement qualities.
Due to Continental, Mediterranean and Atlantic climate influences, plant and animal geographic borders meet on the flat lake region at the foot of the Alps, turning it into a unique habitat for wildlife. The cultural landscape resulting from the harmonic interaction between man and nature - shaped by a variety of cultures since eight millennia - contains outstanding values of cultural history and ethnology.
Its Hungarian part has been a national park since 1991, and the Austrian part since 1993 (Fertő-Hanság National Park and Neusiedlersee Seewinkel Nationalpark, respectively). Salt water habitats can be found throughout Europe in the vicinity of seas, but salt lakes occur only in the eastern part of Europe and in the Carpathian Basin. The average depth of the water in Fertő lake is one meter, and it has a history of drying out from time to time (most recently between the years 1865 and 1871), but, occasionally, its shores had extended up to the fringes of modern settlements. Another peculiarity is the surface of the lake bed thickly covered in reeds and bulrushes, serving as a habitat for roosting, feeding and hiding for a large number of birds of various species, especially during the migrating seasons.
Archaeological findings demonstrate that man inhabited the region since 6000 BC. There are outstanding monuments of the Ancient Roman period, including the remnants of a medical bath on the southern lakeshore, dating from the time of Marcus Aurelius (161–180 AD), moreover, a spring source used by the Romans, as well as a Mithras Temple of outstanding beauty in Fertőrákos. The Romans also introduced viticulture and wine-making, still important and of high quality. The architecture of settlements around the lake demonstrates the heritage of building constructions in the 18th and 19th centuries, such as Rust (Ruszt in Hungarian) famous for its excellent wines in the Middle Ages, Purbach (Feketeváros), Mörbisch am See (Fertőmeggyes) and Breitenbrunn (Fertőszéleskút) on the Austrian side, and Fertőrákos, Balf, Hidegség, Fertőboz and Hegykő on the Hungarian side. In addition to the simplicity of village architecture, there are some splendid castles of outstanding cultural value. With its surface of 310 square kilometres, Fertő Lake is one of the largest saltwater (saline) lakes of Europe, a wetland habitat of international significance, and, at the same time, the westernmost representative of Eurasian steppe lakes, proclaimed as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1979.
With its grand Baroque French park, the Esterházy Castle was built in the style of Versailles between 1720 and 1760. The building complex used to house a place of merriment, a marionette theatre, and an opera house and concert hall lead by Joseph Haydn who brought Europe-wide fame for the musical life of Eszterháza. The Széchenyi Castle in Nagycenk had acquired its current shape in the first half of the 19th century, and its library and famous collections formed the basis of the collections of the National Library and the Hungarian National Museum, respectively. The limestone of Lajta, famous since the Roman era, mined from the quarry of Fertőrákos, provided building material, among others, for the medieval fortification walls of the town of Sopron, and for Saint Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna. The “stone halls” of the quarry, shaped through mining into an interesting form reminiscent of colonnade halls are occasionally used as a venue for cultural events. The current landscape of Fertő Lake/Neusiedlersee is the result of an ongoing dynamic evolution: illustration of the ability of cultures of various periods to adapt to this special and varied natural environment.
World Heritage Management Body: Hungarian World Heritage Council of Fertő Cultural Landscape-
Verein Welterbe Neusiedlersee
Contact: Tamás Taschner, managing director
Address: Haydn utca 2. 9431 Fertőd Hungary
Telephone: +36-99-537 140
Fax: +36-99-537 141
Verein Welterbe Neusiedlersee
Contact: DI Hannes Klein, manager
Address: Amt der Burgenländischen Landesregierung, Europlatz 1 7000 Eisenstadt Austria
Telephone: +43 5 7600 2531
Fax: +43 7600 2936