The Chronicle




Taverna Florian takes its name from the statue of Saint Florian
which stands in the small square just outside.
The statue was sculpted in 1810 by an unknown artist,
but the citizens of Köszeg consider this to be their
most beautiful statue.

Saint Florian is thought to have saved this historic city
from disasterous fires through the centuries.

It is in his honour that we named the taverna,
as he seems to be watching over us.

A city plan from as early as 1605 reveals the town of Köszeg -
then called Güns - the German name for the town.
Here it is shown as a fortress, surrounded by a moat,
which drew water from a little brook, also called Güns.

At the beginning of the 1700s the moat was drained and
permission was given to construct alongside the outer city wall.
Stones from the original wall were used
to build the foundation for the wine cellar here.

The rest of the walls of the wine cellar were built
with small clinkers that had been shaped by hands and feet.
Four remarkable vaults were crafted and clay floors were laid out
on three different levels. The reason for this is still unknown.
Perhaps it eased the filling of wine barrels or it may have been a
simple adjustment to the existing terrain.

This lithograph from 1808 shows
the original house across from the Zwinger tower.

At the beginning of the 19 th century the building
was remodeled as a home.


In its center, facing the Zwinger tower,
arcades and another vault were constructed
to support a kitchen with a large chimney
to accomodate cooking on an open fire.
Today this is the restaurant's kitchen.

The city plan from 1839 shows this addition.

Approximately one hundred years ago, a little winter garden with a
stairwell was added next to the kitchen.
On the other side of the kitchen, another cellar with a
large vault and a living room above was added .
This is today the Gallery Room.

During this period the house was owned by Baron de Rothschild
who is said to have built this addition
to provide a romantic setting for his mistress.

In the period before World War II a well-kown concert pianist,
who performed all over Europe, lived here with his wife,
who also gave piano lessons.
We learned this from a lady from Budapest
who took piano lessons here.

After World War II the building was used for practical purposes.
Grain was stored in the attic.
The cellar was used to keep horses, pigs and chickens;
wood and coal were stored and the historic architecture
was hidden and barely noticeable.
The fantastic vaults and arcades were partly covered
by additional walls.
The original city wall of Köszeg and a cistern,
which was originally integrated into the moat by clever builders,
were covered with debris.


In the attic we found six mummified cats, covered with clay.
Although they had apparently suffered terribly,
this was the only negative experience we had with the house.


Surrounded by the Zwinger - the oldest fortress tower
from the 14 th century, sacred St. Florian from 1820
and the Herz Jesu Church from 1894,
the small Taverna building seems rather unassuming
at first glance. After a closer look, however,
one is easily impressed by its remarkable location
and the feeling of security, comfort and tranquillity
it radiates in these stressful times.

Most people also experience a special energy
in certain parts of the building.

Because the exterior of the building seemed rather
unattractive in the post war years - as the sandstone
window frames were covered by double windows
and shutters -it was overlooked by the historical
conservation office and it was not added to their list of
historically protected structures.
When we began renovation, however,
we coordinated the reconstruction with
the office of historical conservation in Budapest .

The clean-up phase took nearly half a year,
as we carefully determined the original proportions
and what materials were to be included for the building's future use.

130 large containers of debris, trash and demolished materials
had to be removed before the actual renovation could begin.

The renovation was predominantly under our personal control,
and therefore we got to know the entire building
and court yard from early morning to night during every season.
As a result, we learned to live with this house,
to accept and adjust and to take the freedom to integrate
some new ideas, such as the open fireplace in the cellar.

This is the house today:

Some of the materials we wanted to integrate, as well as some of
the furnishings, we could not find to our satisfaction in stores.
With a bit of frustration we went to the local junk yard
and came up with surprisingly suitable pieces,
such as the sewing machine bases,
which were hereby saved from being demolished
and have now become admired and stable table bases.
Partly damaged Viennese cast iron wash basins were used
as perfect indirect lamps that compliment the vaults
by having the same arched design.
The vertical rods were old heating spirals
which now hide the lamps' wiring.

All of the sandstone fragments
(fountains, arches and pine cone) were found during
excavation work in the court yard and
placed so as to attract well deserved attention.
Altogether the renovation took three years.

We hope you have gotten a small impression of the development of
Taverna Florian.

Köszeg - by the way - is considered
the best conserved medieval small town in Hungary
and consequently a gem in Europe.
Should you fall in love with this exceptional place,
we would like you to help in your way
to save and rejuvenate this small city.


Sybille Stewart