The Fazola Gates (© Andante Vivace)
Visiting one`s local council building can sometimes seem as bad as having root canal treatment; engaging with officialdom is, even at the best of times a chore.
In Eger such a visit is a joy, at least it is if your business is at No.9 Kossuth Lajos Street.
Twenty metres past the main entrance you will come across two outstanding examples of Late Baroque, or Rococo, wrought ironwork.
On your left is the "Grape Gate" and to your right the so-called "Coat of Arms Gate"
Both gates are the work of Henrik Fazola, who was employed by Bishop Barkóczy Ferenc to make these (and much more besides) for the county hall he had had built by Matthias Gerl of Vienna between 1749 and 1756.
Fazola was a blacksmith from Würzburg, who had worked on the Greiffenklau gate in that city. Barkoczy was most probably aware of this work and that is why he invited the young artist to Eger.
He worked on the gate from 1759-1761. Due to the quality of his work, Fazola became the only man to go to if you wanted wrought ironwork done in Eger and soon his artistry began to pop up all over the town.
Much of his work survives, in fact if you come across any wrought ironwork on your visit to Eger, the chances are that it is either the work of Henrik Fazola or his brother, Lenard, who joined him later.
How the Grape Gate got its name is self-explanatory once you see it. It is adorned with clusters of grapes and all around the frame the vines twist and strangle, so much so that the structure cannot be seen.
A vine wanders from the Grape Gate
From a distance the Coat of Arms Gate seems almost a carbon copy of that facing it. Closer inspection, however, reveals that the upper third contains three crests or coat of arms. From left to right they are:
You can just make out the three crests on the Coat of Arms Gate
Henrik Fazola obviously had a sense of humour, dotted around the gate are strange little faces that seem to be laughing at you; a light-hearted foil to much of the overtly serious and religious architecture and artwork found throughout the rest of the town
Decoration on the handle of the Coat of Arms Gate
Tourists today have Bishop Eszterházy to thank for giving them the chance to see such a great work of art; he thought it a shame that the gates could not be enjoyed by more people, so, in the late eighteenth century, had them moved from the first floor of the County Hall to their current position.