The municipality of Heiligenbrunn with its five districts is in the south-eastern part of South Burgenland. Until 1920/21, Szentkút – its Hungarian place name – was a part of German West Hungary and was under Hungarian administration. The official language was Hungarian, although the area was, for the most part, inhabited by a German-speaking population.
After the end of the First World War, and following tough negotiations, German West Hungary was given to Austria in the St. Germain and Trianon Treaties of 1919. Since 1921, the area has been a part of the newly-founded Federal State of Burgenland. Luising – a district of today’s municipality of Heiligenbrunn – only became a part of the Republic of Austria on the 10 January 1923 through an Allied Border Commission and was occupied by Austrian troops.
Heiligenbrunn wine cellar neighbourhood
The Heiligenbrunn wine cellar neighbourhood extends across the Stifterberg, Zeinerberg, Kirchhöh and Zeinergraben vineyards, among others. In total, the wine cellar neighbourhood is made up of approx. 150 wine-press houses and Kellerstöckl and forms a unique ensemble. Most of them are wooden log constructions and stand on a beaten clay floor. They are plastered with a clay and chopped straw mix and whitewashed with lime water.
Their shape and size, as well as the construction of the Kellerstöckl, are the result of the economic circumstances and needs. So often a small storage room, a living room that could be slept in if necessary, and a wine-press room were placed together with a long extended building. The cellars were fitted with bolted oak doors and sometimes adorned with carvings and markings showing the year.
By the mid-19th century, these cellars were timbered with roughly-hewn wooden blocks. They didn’t have windows and their render was from whitewashed clay casting. The Gredn’ (courtyard-side passage under the eaves) was fixed with beaten clay and the Kellerstöckl were covered with a full hipped roof made from rye straw.
From the 19th century onwards, the cellars were often underground. The buildings were built on a hillside so that from the street-side, the Kellerstöckls appeared to have two stories. Thatched roofs were initially used for these buildings. Later, tiled pitched roofs were built. The frontal view was broken up by two windows with shutters (so-called Schaluhn) that occasionally featured simple plaster structuring with initials or year dates. Later constructions show clear signs of modernisation – such as enlarged windows, and often modern building materials (Eternit panels) were used.
Walking around the historical "Kellergasse" (cellar alleys), one gets the impression that time has stood still in Heiligenbrunn’s Kellergassen. Many of the cellars stand exactly as they were built 250 years ago. Heiligenbrunn is not designed as a museum, however the cellars are privately owned and some are still run by their owners (many of whom come from the districts of Heiligenbrunn, Hagensdorf and Luising).
Heiligenbrunn’s wine cellar neighbourhood was declared a Burgenland conservation area in 1969 and as such is a piece of living history.