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Széchenyi Castle, Nagycenk

Széchenyi CastleNagycenkSopron region

Nagycenk, where Széchenyi Castle stands, is right next to the Austrian border in the north-west corner of Hungary. The castle, which is surrounded by a park, was home to the famous noble Széchenyi family, whose members include several defining figures of Hungarian history. Most famous among them is Count István Széchenyi, who toiled all his life for Hungary’s development, thereby earning the name the “Greatest Hungarian”. 

It was István Széchenyi’s father, Ferenc Széchényi, who made Nagycenk manor the family’s permanent residence. Ferenc Széchényi and his wife moved to the manor, originally built in a Baroque style, in 1783, bringing along his vast art collection and library. When the castle was remodelled, the plans included a new two-storey building, but Ferenc Széchényi considered this too ostentatious, so he commissioned another Hungarian master builder to prepare the new design, which is how the Classicist-style castle was built in 1799. Ferenc Széchényi left the castle, the surrounding estate and six additional settlements to István, one of his three sons. Young Széchenyi had visited several of the great European cities, with study trips to Munich, Paris and London. Based on his experiences and observations there, he initiated a number of measures in Hungary, thereby promoting the creation of modern Hungary. 

The castle in Nagycenk boasted numerous modern features: a bathroom, rare at the time, and even a flush toilet were installed in the building, while the rooms had gas lighting. Construction work on the castle was completed after the death of István Széchenyi in 1860, after which his son Béla supervised the building of the flower house. The building was damaged by British bombings in 1944, and in the following decades the castle’s condition deteriorated drastically.

 


Over the centuries, the manor underwent a number of reconstruction works. The István Széchenyi Memorial Museum opened in the building in 1973, following its restoration. The permanent exhibition provides an insight into the everyday life of the Széchenyi family and displays the most important events and favourite objects of István Széchenyi's life. For example, you can see the miniature painting depicting Széchenyi’s wife, which the Count carried with him at all times, but a marble bust of the Count, carved not long before his death, is also on display for you to admire. A car and carriage collection awaits visitors in the east wing of the castle, which once housed the counts’ stables.

 


Széchenyi Castle in Nagycenk was declared a national historical memorial monument in 2016. The mausoleum of the Széchenyi family, built in a Classicist style, has become a place of pilgrimage and is also worth visiting in Nagycenk, in the cemetery garden of the parish church. 

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