The Esterházy Palace in the Hungarian town of Fertöd dates back to the 18th century and is aptly called the "Hungarian Versailles". The composer Joseph Haydn spent many years there as a court composer and created a large number of his works in Fertöd.
The Hungarian Esterházy Castle is located on the outskirts of Fertöd in western Hungary near the border with Austria about 25km from Sopron. The magnificent castle of the Esterházy family is one of the largest and most beautiful rococo castles in Hungary. The facade of the impressive castle is set off by a magnificent castle garden.
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What is the best way to get to Fertöd Castle?
The enchanting castle can be easily reached by car via the Austrian Seewinkel in the east of Lake Neusiedl. Another option is to arrive by bicycle, as the idyllic Grenzland cycle path, which circles Lake Neusiedl, passes directly by the castle park.
Emergence of the "Hungarian Versailles
The Esterházy Palace was originally a small hunting lodge of Michael Prince Esterházy. However, Prince Nicholas I decided in 1746, after his trip to Paris, to rebuild the palace on the model of Versailles and commissioned the Viennese court architects Johann Ferdinand Mödlhammer and Melchior Hefele to supervise the construction.
The transformation of the small castle into the magnificent building it is today took 46 years. The stones for the palace were procured from Austria and came from the quarries in St. Margarethen in Burgenland and Eggenburg in Lower Austria. Clear similarities of the Esterházy Palace can be seen not only to the Versailles Palace in Paris, but also to the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna.
Nicholas Esterházy died in 1790 and neither his direct successor Anton, nor his children wanted to live in the secluded little town. It was not until 100 years later, when the family had money again, that Nicholas IV and his family moved into the previously renovated building. After the Second World War, the Esterházy family was expropriated in Hungary and the castle fell into disrepair once again. Today it is preserved by the state of Hungary and serves as a museum and venue for events.
Splendid interior of the Esterházy Castle
Passing through the main gate, an idyllic courtyard with gravel paths and magnificent flowerbeds opens up. The central part of the Esterhazy Palace is now a museum and can be visited on guided tours, which last about an hour.
The enormous castle includes 126 rooms, one more splendidly furnished than the other. For example, the Banquet Room, whose ceiling is adorned with a painting of the Greek god Apollo in his chariot, stands out.
The impressive library with 22,000 volumes and the Italianate grotto-like Sala Terrana with a ceiling painting of angels grouped around the letter "E" for "Esterházy" are also worth a visit. The palace also housed two opera houses, a puppet theater and a 400-seat concert hall, which unfortunately fell victim to a fire in 1779.
In a side wing two schools were established, one for horticultural art and one for commercial matters, which cooperates with the Austrian Commercial Academy in Frauenkirchen and teaches bilingually.
Famous visit: Joseph Haydn
The Austrian composer Joseph Haydn, Esterhazy court composer and founder of Viennese Classicism spent many years of his life here, as well as in the Esterházy Palace in Eisenstadt, Burgenland. As court composer, he followed the prince and thus stayed mostly in Eisenstadt in winter and in Fertöd in his own four-room apartment in summer.
In 1772, for example, the Hungarian Esterházy Palace was the setting for the premiere of the famous "Farewell Symphony," in which at the end only one musician in the orchestra pit plays the festive piece to its conclusion.
Official site of the Esterházy Castle incl. opening hours, guided tours and entrance fees