The beautiful estate of Eszterhàza Castle is often compared to Versailles for its grandeur and extensive grounds. A baroque country residence completed in 1784, Eszterhàza served as a principal home of the wealthy and influential Hungarian house of Esterhazy. In addition to the 126 rooms in the main palace, the estate grounds include an opera house, a marionette theater, stables, detached servant quarters, and gardens. The composer Joseph Haydn became director of the Esterhazy’s musical and theatrical production programs in 1761, and lived there for 29 years, conducting and composing for the castle’s residents and guests. During and following World War II, the palace suffered from insufficient maintenance, and was subjected to looting and damage. Nonetheless it is still considered among the best examples of Hungarian baroque architecture, and draws over 200,000 visitors annually.
Confirming the importance of its valuable architectural and decorative features
World Monuments Fund’s involvement at Eszterhàza began in 1993 when it organized and hosted a conference on the adaptive reuse of the complex and its restoration. This initiative established a framework for discussions regarding future conservation of the building, helping to confirm the importance of its valuable architectural and decorative features. At the symposium an outline was established for the possibilities of using Eszterhàza for a variety of purposes that would sustain the building and grounds over time without diminishing its historical value.
WMF’s commitment to developing a creative, sustainable, and self-sufficient plan for Eszterhàza has allowed the estate to become a center of cultural life in the area, the site of music festivals during summer months, and an occasional gallery space for contemporary art shows. It represents an invaluable part of the country’s architectural heritage.