Hungarian castles are amazing sights to see. Here are five castles worth visiting at least once.
Festetics Castle in Keszthely
One of the most important Hungarian families of counts and princes owned this castle for 200 years. The place they called home was built thanks to Kristóf Festetics, who started the construction works. The part of the building that was constructed between 1745 and 1750 wears the signs of Baroque style. György Festetics I, the grandson of Kristóf Festetics, added the part of the building in late-Baroque style. The interior works ended in 1804. Between 1883 and 1887, Tasziló Festetics II was responsible for the reconstruction and expansion of the building. Under these construction works based on the plans of Victor Rumpelmayer, the castle gained its final form. The parts built last have Neo-Baroque and Neo-Rococo elements.
The items in the castle remained intact during World War II. After the departure of the Festetics family, the castle was looted by German and Hungarian soldiers and the local population. Many original objects, however, survived. After the Soviet occupation of Keszthely, the city commander walled up the library and some of the rooms next to it. The most valuable furnishings were collected in these sealed rooms. The other part of the survived objects was probably taken from the castle to a bathhouse in Hévíz, owned by the Festetics family, before people took them during the lootings. After the nationalisation, only the library wing and the previously walled-up rooms could be visited in the castle. The rest of the building was used by soldiers, but a school and a library operated in the castle as well. In 1974, the Helikon Castle Museum was founded, which was renamed Helikon Castle in 2012. Six permanent exhibitions await visitors, in five buildings.
Royal Palace of Gödöllő
Count Antal Grassalkovich I started the construction of the castle in Gödöllő after 1735, based on the plans of András Mayhoffer. Even Queen Maria Theresa saw the castle when she arrived in Gödöllő in 1751 to visit the count. The count continued the expansion of the castle. His son and grandson also ordered some construction works to be done. The castle eventually became an example of Hungarian Baroque castles.
Antal Grassalkovich III was the last male member of the family. After his death, the castle was inherited through the female family members’ branch of the family. The castle was sold in 1864 to a Belgian bank. In 1867, the Hungarian state brought it back as a coronation gift, thus, the building became the property of King József Ferenc I and Queen Erzsébet. In 1920, governor Miklós Horthy used it as his summer residence.
After World War II, this building suffered some losses. Items from the castle were stolen or destroyed. The building’s condition deteriorated over the years. In 1985, necessary renovation works started. Today, it is one of the most beautiful castles in Hungary.
The Baroque manor house was built by the Schmidegg family, who rose to the rank of count in 1738. The estate and their residence were sold to Count Lipót Nádasdy in 1851. His son, Ferenc, and daughter-in-law built a new castle, based on the plans of István Linzbauer. The works started in 1873 and ended in 1876. The works consisted of the expansion of the existing Baroque building. This is how the renewed castle became a Neo-Gothic, English Tudor-style building.
During the Wesselényi conspiracy, the treasury confiscated the property of Judge Ferenc Nádasdy. The estates were offered for sale by Lipót I to the Draskovich family, who turned to the archbishop of Kalocsa, György Széchényi. This is how he got the property. At first, he got it on a lien, then, his nephew was the one who became the official owner. The nephew, György Széchényi II, received the title of count. The Széchényi family owned the Cenk areas until 1945.
The castle was built after Antal Széchényi moved from the nearby Széplak to Kiscenk in 1741. He and his wife, Zsuzsanna Barkóczy, built the castle that was finished in the 1750s, along with the arrangement of the park and the installation of the famous row of linden trees. The castle was not demolished at war but became unused and deteriorated over the years. Therefore, the architectural landmark had to be renovated.
The castle was built between 1880 and 1885 based on the plans of Arthur Meinig. The count inspired him to combine the architectural elements of Hungarian historical Romanticism with the style of the Vajdahunyad Castle.
The building has 4 entrances corresponding to 4 seasons, 12 towers corresponding to 12 months, 52 rooms corresponding to 52 weeks, and 365 windows corresponding to 365 days.
The castle is indeed beautiful. Local rumours and legends say that Queen Erzsébet visited the count in secret. To commemorate the visit, the count planted trees at the marketplace located at the border of the village. One or two of the oak trees are still there.
Some people say that the count’s son, Gyula II, finished the building and the castle. The architectural landmark went through a dark time when people destroyed the doors, the windows, the furniture, the mirrors, the chandeliers, the statues, the ceramics, the paintings, and the books in 1918. After the unfortunate event, it was rumoured that the count never visited the castle again.
After World War II, a Romanian military hospital operated in the castle. The late soldiers were buried in the park of the castle. Later, the castle became the property of the state. In 1948, Austrian children spent their summer vacation there, 300 children to be exact. Then, the children of Greek refugees found accommodation in the castle. Starting in 1950, the castle was home to abandoned children. They later got a modern building, in 2007.
Source: helikonkastely.hu, kiralyikastely.hu, nadasdykastely.hu, szechenyiorokseg.hu, tiszadob.info