Eszterhaza Palace, Fertod Tourist Attractions
History27km (17mi.) east of Sopron, in Fertod, Eszterháza Palace is the largest and most beautiful mansion house in Hungary, the "Hungarian Versailles". The residence, in the typical "Habsburg ochre" and situated on the eastern side of the town, was built between 1760 and 1767 out of the small Süttör hunting lodge of 1720; the architect was Miklós, known as the shining one (Fényes) with whom the Eszterházy line reached its zenith.
In only 150 years the Eszterházys went from being minor aristocracy to one of the richest royal families in Europe, with estates around the 100 mansions totaling about 5000km (1930mi.) and a corresponding lifestyle. This involved a permanent theater ensemble, an orchestra and their own court director of music, Joseph Haydn, who was in Nikolaus's service from 1761-90 and who worked here from 1766. As supporters of the Habsburgs the Eszterházys were and still are quite unpopular in Hungary, unlike the Széchenyis, for example. After the death of Prince Nikolaus in 1790 the family moved to Eisenstadt, the Fertod court was given up and the mansion fell into ruin until the main building was restored in 1958.The main architects involved in this Rococo building, quite unique for Hungary, (as well as Nikolaus Jacoby and J.F. Mödlhammer) were the Tirolean Melchior Hefele, a pupil of Balthasar Neumann, and Johann Bernhard Fischer of Erlach. The magnificent wrought-iron gate through to the courtyard was also designed by Hefele. From the gate quadrant-shaped, single-story passages lead to the two-story side wings, which are linked to the main two-story building dominated by the central tower (belvedere). In the courtyard is a fountain with dolphins.Steps lead to a banqueting room with a fresco entitled "Apollo with a suncart" by Basilius Grundmann; the statues in the corners symbolize the seasons. Concerts are held here in the summer. The garden balcony enjoys a fine view over the part of the former 130ha (321 acre) park which still remains. On the upper floor are the Chinese Salon, the Green Salon and the Maria Theresia Chamber; all are equipped with fine Rococo furniture and fireplaces (partly from other houses).Below the banqueting hall, at ground level, is the Sala terrena, which opens out to the courtyard and garden (floor made of white Carrara marble, frescos by Joseph Ignaz Milldorfer (1766); on the ceiling, formed from garlands, are the letters FNE, the builder's monogram).Within the grounds are the so-called grenadier houses (opposite the gate to the courtyard), accommodation for the guards and the musicians' house (Madách sétány 1, road to FertOszéplak), where the court musicians lived, as did Joseph Haydn from 1766 to 1790.There is also an unpretentious visitor's center in the east wing, a school and an institute for plant research.
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