Friday, September 24, 2010

The Eszterházy Palace in Fertöd

Since the horseshoe shaped Eszterházy Palace is being restored by the Norwegian government, the inner courtyard is filled with fences and trucks. That's not very picturesque so you'll have to be satisfied with a look at the west wing. Only part of the palace is open during reconstruction. Duke Miklos Eszterházy, who built this summer cottage and hunting lodge, was determined that it would be better than anything the Austrian emperor had. We'll let you decide if he succeeded.

Here's a closer look at two of the fountains. The gardens in the back used to be filled with statues and fountains patterned after Versailles in Paris, but through the years they have been stolen by various collectors.

This is the original entrance. I'm letting the greeter borrow my hat.

The grand entry is blocked off for restoration but you can see the details in the ceiling.

Here you can see what the ceiling looks like before restoration.

I looked behind a barrier to see this room that is almost finished.

Here's a hallway being restored.

The palace was used by the Russians as a barracks until twenty years ago and the Nazis as a hospital in World War II so the walls were whitewashed, covering the original wall paintings. Here you can see how they are removing the whitewash to discover the original patterns.

Click on this original chandelier to see the heads of people around the base.

The Eszterházys loved to collect clocks.

How do you like this fish bowl for their gold fish?

They also collected porcelain.

This is the official Eszterházy pattern for their china. Each noble family designed its own pattern. This was kept on stock at the porcelain factory in Herend so replacement pieces are still available. That's why they can have this complete set today. Note how the dishes for the meal stack up. You start with the first plate and work down. Notice how the salad dish is shaped to fit around the main plate.

I'm sure you wondered how musicians in those days could see their music after dark. Now you know. Duke Miklos Eszterházy loved music and kept a concert hall and a music school at the palace filled with composers and musicians all year round. The famous Austrian composer Haydn lived and worked here for 30 years composing music for the family. Every year there are Haydn festivals here.

Do you think the head carved on this cello is Haydn?

Notice the Chinese paintings on this sitting room wall. Chinese painting was the rage at the time, even though the artists had never been to China. They just made up what they thought China looked like. There were several rooms with all four walls covered with this imagined Chinese look. Notice the ceramic heater in the corner. Servants kept it stocked with hot coals from passage ways behind the walls. That's why you can't see any openings on this side.

Here's the duke's bedroom.

The duchess slept here. Notice that people were quite a bit shorter then.

They had their own chapel. Here is the altar...

and the cupola above.

Duke Miklos was known for his extravagant ways as he tried to outdo the emperor. This was just the largest of the many palaces that he maintained. When he died, the family disbanded the music school and abandoned the palace. It stood empty for 100 years before the Eszterházys returned at the end of the 19th Center for a short time. During those hundred years the palace was used as a stable. When the family returned, they sold most of the furnishings and artwork since they could no longer afford the palace because of changes in their fortunes. Here you can see what the outside looks like where the Norwegian restoration work still needs to start.

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