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  • Writer's picture Kester Eddy

A Bit of Baroque - But Where?

Updated: Jun 2, 2022

KesterTester75 - Some well-kept sculptures of a spiritual theme in one of the region's municipalities - UPDATED with Results

Photo: This scene of high art, and the well-to-do town house may deceive the viewer into thinking this location is a serene market town - in fact, it is historically, and still today, a significant industrial centre.

Unless some of our sleuths are art experts, I suspect I will have to give another clue or two to help you identify this one next week.

What else can I say before then? Well, it's definitely one of those places that has been fought over through the centuries, and counted as a major prize for the leading belligerent nation in WW2.

Of course, a few years later, with retribution on the way, the German-speaking population left in a hurry. The railway station appears to be 1950s concrete, so I suspect that area was badly damaged during the war, but thankfully the old town appears to have largely escaped unscathed.

If you think you know the answer - as usual, write in on the site's messaging system or send an email - please put in KT75 so I don't miss your brilliant answer from the famous EU-approved, Black Woolly Hat Draw.

And somewhat to my surprise, KT74 The Party Train has not attracted many punters so far, and this despite my generosity when it comes to clues. It's still open for a few days yet, sleuthers!

Have a good weekend!


1) This town/city has a certain claim to fame: much to the chagrin of many in France, it boasts the oldest scientifically dated xxxxx. (I can't say what, it would make googling the answer too easy. You'll have to work it out from my cryptic clue.) I'll post a photo of this in the final update.

2) Here's another photo taken somewhere in the old town (I can't for the life of me remember or recognise where I took this pic, but it has to be in the place somewhere.)

Photo: Our mystery location - photo taken in, I think, 2009.

UPDATE: ​Once again, this proved tougher than I thought. I suppose I could have provided another clue, citing the infamous visit by a certain A Hitler in 1941 ("Make this land German for me once more") or the local football team (it has a history of being the best in the country). But I didn't. Always one for a venture, Jock MacKenzie had a stab: “Might this by chance be 23rd District Varoshaz? Have a good weekend, Jock” Which of course, meant I had to look up what said Mayor's Pad in Budapest XXIII looked like. Well, first I had to be sure which district it was – Soroksár, of course! (It's on the very southern edge of the Hungarian capital.) And here is the said Town Hall.

Photo: Mayor's Office, Budapest Dist XXIII, Soroksár - taken from the official webpage.

Not a bad try, Jock, I agree it is similar, but this one is a bit further afield. First in was Ian Wraight, who in truth, did swoop very quickly.

“Hi Kester, Its the plague monument in MB, but I should be disqualified from buying you a beer because I'm a local.” It's ok, Ian – it's tough for you to get those in Budapest and other places ooop north and further east. But I hadn't realised it was a plague monument. Thanks. MB, dear readers, is Maribor, Slovenia's second city, and Ian lives about 25 km distant, in a purple-painted house, not far from Ptuj. Ian continued. “As for the cartouches [Ah! Thanks Ian - so that's what they're called], this appears to be a local form/development of the high Baroque - Rococo. Pictorial depictions on urban house fronts in Slo[vene] territories were certainly popular in the medieval and renaissance, but the baroque generally wiped out such idiosyncrasies and individual artistic impression . I don't think it is making any sort of comeback in our era.... ... but wait : - first decorated in the 80's (and getting ????).”

I confess, I'm a bit confused on this last bit, Ian, but never mind.

After I added the extra clues, Tom Chilton got sleuthing. “Hi KJ, The answer is Maribor. I guessed what the oldest thing would be that would upset the French and Googled. I didn't recognise it from the pics though.” And before you could say “Sacre bleu”, Hubert “Poirot” Warsmann also got in on the act. “KT 75 are the statues around the plague memorial in Maribor, SI.”

At this point, readers need to understand Maribor's most recent claim to fame. It is home

to the World's Oldest Vine, which has been pushing roots into the earth below for some 450 years now.

Hubert continued:

“I don't think anyone in France loses sleep about that old vine there to be honest. Most of them don't even know that the oldest vine in France is 300 yr + and found in Reims of all places.”

Well, to me, Reims seems almost the perfect location for this young grape upstart, Hubert! But I'd better let him finish.

“It is a similar set up, planted against the wall of a former Jesuit school. It still produces 200 kg of grapes every year, despite witnessing 2 world wars. including one that severely damaged the nearby cathedral.” Good news for the Reims vine, Hubert! But I can only go on what my friend and colleague Lidija told me back in 2007. She was then working with Večer, the Maribor daily, and she went with Tone Zafošnik, the man who saved the vine back in the late 1980s and early 90s, to France – she mentioned where, it might have been Tours, but can't be sure now. Anyway, Lidija told me that at the ceremony where Tone handed over a cutting of the Stara Trta (as the vine is known in the vernacular), the French folks present didn't want to believe it, and kept asking questions about the scientific proof of the claim. That's what she said.

Actually, I'm a wee bit proud of the story I did on Tone and his quest to save the vine, because as far as I can tell, it was the only genuine interview with him in English out there - for which I am indebted to Lidija, who made the initial contact and translated for me at the time. Unfortunately, it seems the story is no longer online.

(There remains this story, but the writer carefully weaves most of my original FT piece into his own text, ultimately giving me a grudging reference for one quotation at the end. Mr T Mullen appears to be a very successful person – but if he takes as much from others and makes it appear as his own as he did here, that's no great wonder.)

Photo; Tone Zafošnik, by his treasured ancient vine, Maribor, Slovenia. Tone passed away some years ago.

Here's a link to the Slovenia Tourism website, which has more information, and the photo illustrates how the municipality has taken to its vine with gusto.

Ah, I almost forgot what everyone is on tenterhooks for by now - the results from the Black Woolly, EU Accredited Draw Hat. Only the first three digits this week, and the winner is ….. number 1 – Ian Wraight!

Congratulations, Ian - I hope Nina doesn't get jealous of all your adoring female fans after this sudden rise to fame and celebrity status!

Oh, because it's rather beautiful, I should post an original of the Plague Monument in colour. It deserves it.

Photo: Maribor's Plague Monument, and swish town house, in glorious colour.

I'll try to post a new, GuesterTester, tomorrow.

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