The complete area of the historic centre of Rust is listed and regarded as one of the most picturesque structures of its kind. The many old town houses dating back from the 16th to the 19th century have well-looked after Baroque or Renaissance facades with beautiful window and portal frames, bowfronts, heraldic and stucco decorations. The town centre comprises an area of approx. 9 hectares and is lived in by 320 citizens of Rust.
The historic town centre is protected by the "Hague Convention for the protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict". Blue-white signs mark the individual properties.
In 1975 the "royal free city" of Rust was selected by the commissioner of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg to become one of the model town for the European year or architectural heritage alongside Salzburg and Krems and it was a conscious decision to choose a small town where - contrary to many other historical towns - there are no residential quarters, which were in danger of falling derelict. Rust was chosen, because there was a vital and not a revitalised town. The houses still maintain their original function as homes or businesses of the citizens of Rust.
In 2001, the old town of Rust was entered into the list of UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites together with the region of Fertö-to/Lake Neusiedl.
Rust has been awarded the title of "Most beautiful town in the province of Burgenland" for its measures to preserve its historic buildings and culture a few times now.
In 1970, the Federal Ministry of Science and Research launched a "facade repair campaign for the renewal of groups of facades in old town areas worthy of preservation". This initiative was intended to raise public awareness of monument preservation and ensemble protection. In addition to around 15 municipalities in Austria, Rust was also involved in this action.
However, the beginnings of the successful preservation of Rust's townscape date back to 1963 and 1964, when Rust was already known as a tourist destination due to the nearby Lake Neusiedl, the good wine and its storks. The cultural atmosphere had not yet penetrated the consciousness of the visitors and holiday guests so much.
In 1964, after many interruptions, it was decided to restore the exterior of the Fishermen's Church, which was decorated with rich frescoes. In the meantime, individual homeowners in Rust had begun to carry out restorations with great ambition and considerable effort. As a result, understanding and enthusiasm for the correct care and repair of facades and houses grew, which soon became a personal prestige of the owners.
The breakthrough was finally achieved by the local council, which at about the same time decided to adapt the rather worn out town hall to a modern office while preserving the historic building fabric.
New buildings in the old town of Rust were only listed by two banking institutions in places where previously insignificant single-storey buildings had stood. When designing the façades of these new buildings, the aim was to achieve a good integration into the urban ensemble by using local forms. Because the citizens of Rust were always anxious not to sacrifice their independent, centuries-old buildings to a modernist construction method that was foreign to the town.
It is assumed that the construction of the houses in the old town of Rust was a consequence of the elevation of the free city of Rust to royal free city in 1681. To this day, about 60 objects, as well as the two parish churches, have been restored and renovated in the old town of Rust.
But also the two city walls from 1512 and 1614 with a total length of about 800 meters and an average height of 4 meters were renovated.
The total maintenance measures for the preservation of the old town and the site are estimated at around EUR 2. 2 to 3 million in Rust. The share of private financing, which amounts to about 2/3 to 3/4 of the total costs, is considerable. It is also worth mentioning that almost all the owners of the houses belong to the same professional group as their ancestors, namely that of winegrowers and winegrowers.
The largest object renovated by the municipality of Rust is the Seehof. A 17th century building with a long and varied history. This building was originally used as a town hall, was then rededicated at the beginning of the 18th century as a riding barracks and from 1919 was the first German-speaking citizen school in what was then western Hungary. From 1976 and for about 12 years, this large property was renovated for about 3 million euros.
The State of Austria and the Province of Burgenland contributed to the production costs.
For the main street, whereby the left side with its 19 facades is extremely impressive, a special "colouring plan"; was prepared in order to achieve a colourful sequence of the colourful facades as rich in contrast as possible.