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The imposing Esterházy Castle

The Esterházy Castle
Fertőd
Sopron / Bük & Sárvár region

Hungary’s largest and most splendid baroque building, the Esterházy Castle in Fertőd, is located near the Austrian border. Its halls still host summer concerts and its music hall houses an exhibit evoking the castle’s musical life of yore.

The Esterházy Castle building complex in Fertőd, near the Austrian border, is the main landmark of the town of Fertőd and also one of Hungary’s key tourist attractions. The castle’s site was originally where the U-shaped Sarród hunting lodge stood, built in 1720 by another of the great lords of the Austro‑Hungarian Esterházy family. The Esterházys had a major impact on Hungarian history since the 17th century: prominent among them are an archduke, an archbishop, a chief justice, a prime minister and a Kossuth Prize winning author.

„Hungarian Versailles”

Miklós Esterházy had the grand castle designed, and it took almost 20 years in the late 18th century for it to take on its current form. The baroque building complex is considered to be a worthy match of the Schönbrunn Castle in Vienna or Versailles in Paris, from where the name „Hungarian Versailles” originates. Its glory days were 1768–1790, when it was one of Hungary’s main cultural centres. 126 rooms furnished and decorated in the Rococo-style line the building. The castle’s centre point is the upstairs banquet and music hall, the grandiose walls of which are divided by ionic half-pillars. The summer dining room below the banquet hall connects the baroque garden with the building, with the reception rooms to its sides. On the ground floor, next to the count's and countess' suite, is the library, while the east wing houses the famous Esterházy Gallery, which boasted more than 300 paintings.

Amazing French garden

A 300-hectare French garden surrounded the castle, modelled after the park at Versailles. In the 19th century, the garden was converted into an English park, more like today’s gardens that still welcome strollers. The arteries of the park were lined with smaller lanes and clearings on which stood buildings or statues. The musical life of the Fertőd castle earned a name throughout Europe under director Joseph Haydn, who played his famous Farewell Symphony within these walls in 1772. Habsburg court members and Maria Theresa frequented the castle’s musical programmes. During the reconstruction work on the castle, the main central building and the castle park were also restored, and its destroyed buildings rebuilt. The castle chapel, restored in 2001, was awarded the Europa Nostra prize.

The house of concerts

The Hungarian State maintains a suite for the Esterházy Family in the castle, specifically for Antal Esterházy. In the building, between June and September, classical music concerts resound in the renovated Marionette theatre, with illustrious artists paying their respects. Classical music programmes and concerts continue to play a vital role in the life of the castle. Summer concerts are held in the former banquet halls, while the music hall houses an exhibit presenting Haydn’s art and the castle’s musical life of yore.

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