Dear Friends, please welcome in a small but wonderful palace of Hungary! As I promised before, our next guided tour leads us to a town near Budapest...let's tour the renovated baroque wings of Royal Palace of Godollo!
The cosy castle is one of the most important, largest monuments of Hungarian Palace architecture. Its builder, Count Antal Grassalkovich I (1694-1771) was a typical figure of the regrouping Hungarian aristocracy of the 18th century. He was a Royal Septemvir, president of the Hungarian Chamber, and confidant of Empress Maria Theresa (1740-1780). The construction began around 1733, under the direction of András Mayerhoffer (1690-1771) a Salzburg builder.
The Palace has a double U shape, and is surrounded by an enormous park. The building underwent several enlargements and modifications during the 18th century, its present shape was established in the time of the third generation of the Grassalkovich family. By then the building had 8 wings, and - besides the residential part - it contained a church, a theatre, a riding-hall, a hothouse, a greenhouse for flowers and an orangery.
After the male side of the Grassalkovich family died out in 1841, the castle had several owners, and in 1867 it was bought for the Crown. It was Empress Elisabeth (1837-1898) who specially loved staying in Gödöllő, where the Hungarian personnel and neighbourhood of the Palace always warmly welcomed her. Following her tragic death, a memorial park adjoining the upper-garden was built.
Between the two world wars the Palace served as the residence for Regent Miklós Horthy. No significant building took place during this period, apart from an air-raid shelter in the southern front garden. After 1945 the Palace, like many other buildings in Hungary, fell into decay.
Soviet and Hungarian troops used the building, some of the beautifully decorated rooms were used for an Old People's Home, and the park was divided into smaller plots of land.
The protection of building as a historical monument started in 1981, when the National Board for Monuments launched its Palace project. The most important tasks of preservation began in 1986 and were completed in the end of 1991, but reconstruction is continuing with Rudolf and Gisella wings, English Park, ruined stables and riding-hall.
The Royal Palace of Godollo, one of the most attractive tourist sights of Hungary is visited by more than 200 thousand people a year. The number of foreign visitors increases continuously; one in four comes from Europe, and more and more people come from more distant corners of the world.
The building consists of eight 2-storey wings; the central part was restored between 1996 and 2000. The Baroque Theatre is to be finished in 2003.
More information can be found here.
Photo credits: Aginger, Anasztazia.