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History of the Esterházy Castle

The Esterházy Castle is located in the city of Fertőd. The former name of the place is Süttör, and it became a property of the Esterházy family during the 17th century. The original building was a U-shaped hunting lodge with 22 rooms, which was built in 1720 on the basis of Anton Erhard Martinelli's design, initiated by Josef Esterházy. It was the time when the name of the noble Esterházy family and the history of the Castle became joint. In 1762 Nikolaus (the Magnificent) Esterházy had inherited the family property, within a year he began to transform the building into the present Castle. He was the first person, who wrote about the place Eszterháza in one of his letters, it was the origin of the name of the Esterházy Castle.

In 1766 the renovation of the buildings and the park finished, and it cost approximately 11 million golden forints. The design and the construction was coordinated by three architects: Miklós Jacoby, Johann Ferdinand Mödlhammer and Menyhért Hefele. After the renovation had been finished, the Castle was completely renewed and it became impressively huge with its 100 meters long frontage and 48 meters long side wings. The wrought-iron entrance gate is one of the most beautiful gates in Hungary, and not only because of its fascinating size, due to its design the gate is listed as a very precious architectural construction. The Guard Houses are located nearby the entrance gate. That was the place where the armed guards were accommodated. The Esterházy family has always supported arts and culture, hence they did not only fill the Castle with vivid cultural life, but established a complete group of buildings in order to provide home for different arts. After the renovation of the Castle, many additional houses were built, including the Opera House with 400 available seats, where many celebrations and performances were held; the Music House, where Joseph Haydn lived and composed for about 20 years among with many other musicians; the Puppet Theater, which auditorium is decorated with various stones, seashells and shells, so still today it has a very special atmosphere; the Chinese Salon, where the calm, balanced, intimate atmosphere was dominant; the Guard Houses; and the Stable, which once provided shelter for around 110 horses.

The Castle is surrounded by a 300 hectare park, which had originally designed in a French-like way, but later it was transformed into an English park, adjusting the garden to the features of the newly renovated Castle. No one took care of the garden for a very long time, it became very neglected, plants looked feral. At the end of the 1800's, Countess Margit Cziráky Maria Ludovika, a Lady of the Starry Cross took over the care of the garden and created a breathtaking environment there. After the death of Nikolaus (the Magnificent) Esterházy the golden age of the Castle was over, its condition became worse and worse, the furniture of the building were taken elsewhere, due to the lack of maintenance water leaked through the roofs. It was in a terrible condition by the time of the Second World War. 16 May, 1950 the city was renamed to Fertőd and in the meantime another renovation started, which was followed by many other large-scale projects. In 2001, the Fertőd Region became one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites, partly thanks to the Esterházy Castle that has a prominent role in this region. In 2001, the renovated chapel was recognized with Europa Nostra Award and in 2016 the renovation of the small castle belongs to the main building was recognized with Architecture Prize (Építőipari Nívódíj).

Nowadays the Castle still has a prominent role in the cultural life of the region, many concerts are organized here, which still make its everyday life vivid. It hosts many events, permanent and temporary exhibitions that are open for visitors throughout the year. The Castle is worth to visit not only because of its magnificent buildings and salons, but the breathtaking garden. It provides visitors with the opportunity to take a long walk, enjoy the nature, trees, flowers and simply spend an amazing time in this calm and relaxing environment.