Pan-European Picnic Memorial Park

The EHL Site

In the area of the Pan-European Memorial Park there was built a brand-new visitor centre to get the historic events of 1989 close to as many people as possible. This site allows visitors – during the touristic season (from April to October) – to learn about the past while drinking a coffee or a refreshment drink. It is our goal to establish a community place to serve as a memorable site to the historic events. The visitor centre hosts an exhibition’s space of 110 m2 to help learn about and experience historical events, using static and interactive interpretation tools. Boards and glass containers, an exhibition desk, a projection surface, a digital plotting table, a book podium, and an interactive guestbook add colour to the exhibition. The outdoor covered-open terrace can provide a venue for temporary exhibitions and other programs. At the Memorial Park, a special installation building called „time corridor” marks the iron curtain and the moment of the breakthrough. Construction works have been completed by September 2019.

European dimension

The Memorial Park commemorates the civil initiative of the Pan-European Picnic peace demonstration held on 19 August 1989. The temporary opening of the Hungarian-Austrian border during the demonstration gave nearly 600 citizens of the German Democratic Republic the opportunity to flee to the West, an event which marked the beginning of the destruction of the Iron Curtain.

Having divided Europe ideologically and economically into two separate areas, the fall of the Iron Curtain led to the reunification of Germany and the EU’s Eastern enlargement in 2004. The Memorial Park stands for the post-1989 borderless and unified Europe. The site of this historic event has been popular first with tourists and a pilgrimage site to many former GDR refugees and their relatives.

Thanks to the European Heritage Label, the park’s popularity has increased, and in addition to the previously typical domestic and German-speaking visitors, more and more tourists have visited the site from the Far East, especially from Japan as well.

On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the border crossing, a complex series of programs took place in 2019, in which German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán also took part.

The organization

The Municipality of Sopron, as a local government, regulates and administers the local public affairs falling within its competence on its own responsibility. The role of local governments is critical in the tourism of a settlement or destination, as it has a direct impact on the experiences of the tourists arriving there. This is why, for example, the Pan-European Picnic Memorial Park is developed and operated by the municipality of Sopron.