“Hungarian Versailles”- this is the name this luxurious, magnificent and massive palace and park ensemble is often called. It is situated in the town of Fert?din the western part of Hungary which is at a two and a half hour ride from Budapest.
Esterhazy Palace was built in several stages by representatives of one of richest, most distinguished and noble families in Hungary - Esterhazy. In July, 1720, Prince Joseph Esterhazy ordered to build a hunting lodge from a famous architect Anton Erhard Martinelli. Construction works were performed very fast so only in two months a beautiful hunting residence of Prince Esterhazy was erected which had 20 rooms and that became a foundation for building a huge palace in future.
After Joseph’s son Miklos II (Nikolaus “the Magnificent”) became Prince Esterhazy, the history of this house was started from the very beginning. The wealthiest and very ambitious Hungarian nobleman Miklos II who played a rather important role at the Emperor’s court I Vienna and who was an ambassador and a privy councilor of mighty Maria Theresa, as well as the head of her bodyguard in Hungary, having seen all Europe, realized that a hunting residence for 20 rooms is too modest for him. Having visited France and seen amazing beauty of Versailles, Miklos II decided to create his own Versailles after the fashion of the park and palace ensemble of Louis XIV.
During the period of 1760-1767 one of the biggest and most beautiful palaces in Hungary was erected on the basis of the hunting lounge which took huge amount of money. The best Italian architect and painters were invited to work on the creation of a luxurious residence of Prince Esterhazy. Near the main building there appeared two additional constructions which all together create a semicircle shape of the façade. A beautiful fountain was built in the middle of the yard having sculptures of cherubim and a dolphin. From all the sides, the yard was surrounded with trees cut in the shape of a pyramid. Windows on the upper floor were made in the form of a cello. A big balcony was constructed above the main entrance. You could climb it only by two rampant stairs decorated with lanterns, columns, statues and rich forge ironworks.
This time the palace had 126 rooms each of them having its peculiar and unique interior and not resembling any other room. Luxurious interiors of the Rococo palace rooms comprised a wonderful collection of furniture, paintings, clocks, Venetian mirrors, Gobelin tapestry.
Reception Hall is situated on the ground floor – this is the most beautiful room of the castle made in original Italian style. Its floor is flagged with marble; the ceiling is painted with dancing angels and various mythological heroes. Walls of the Musical Hall are all covered with gilding. There is a huge fresco painted on the ceiling of the Banquet Hall which represents Apollo on the chariot. This wall-painting has an incredible peculiarity, looking from any place in the hall, you get an impression that this cart is rushing at you. Allegorical figures representing the seasons are installed in the corners of the halls. Other castle halls look no less impressive.
Visitors of the castle like impressive wrought gates at the main entrance created in 1764-1766. They are a true masterpiece of blacksmith's art. This gates separate columns decorated with vases in Rococo style. Through the gates you can see a nice view of the palace and park complex.
Apart from the museum complex, there were also constructed puppet and opera theaters, Chinese entertainment house, music house, a small church, “Orange house”, Pavilions of Venus, Diana, and Temple of the Sun. Alleys of the English and French gardens were adorned with vases, lampions, fountains, and statues.
Every day Esterhazy palace used to be a part of an endless luxurious festive event that rather soon became known to all Europe. Prince Miklos Esterhazy got famous not only as a fan of holding balls and masquerades, but as an art patron as well. It is a well-known fat that a famous composer Joseph Haydn who also directed the palace orchestra, lived in his house for 30 years.
After the death of Miklos II Esterhazy, his family had more modest lifestyle and moved to their original residence in an Austrian city Eisenstadt. The castle in Fert?d gradually fell to desolation. It was also considerably damages during the World War II. The castle building used to host a military hospital, a danquet hall, and even was used as a stable. Only in the year 1958, majestic appearance of Esterhazy palace was restored. Nowadays, there is a hotel, the Museum of Joseph Haydn situated in one of the castle’s parts. Musical Festivals of Haydn are organized here in the summer time. In 1957 Esterhazy palace received the status of the national museum.