Friday, September 24, 2010

Széchenyi estate in Nagycenk

In contrast is the Szécheny family estate 9 miles away in Nagycenk. The Széchenyis were also rich Hungarian noblemen. However, they chose to live more simply and use their money to improve the lives of Hungarians. Here's a look at their palace, more like a manor house, as seen through one of the mazes they have in front.

Here you can see the approach as seen from the second story of the house. The double row of linden trees stretches for two miles and was a riding path. Mazes and riding paths are things the family built for general enjoyment.

Notice how plain the entryway is that leads visitors to the stairs to the reception area.

Mom is showing the stairs. They were built in an atrium filled with plants. Duke István Széchenyi invested in projects to develop better agricultural techniques for Hungarian farmers. He worked to convince his fellow noblemen to free the serfs, pay taxes, and develop transportation so Hungarian agricultural products could be transported abroad. Through his efforts the arable land in Hungary increased by twenty percent.

Notice the simplicity of the walls, though the ceilings have the Hungarian angles that I love so much. Even the chandelier is simple. He believed in investing in people rather than things. He invested in making the first permanent bridge (Lánchid or Chain Bridge) over the Danube joining Buda and Pest, then separate towns. He also introduced steam ships to the Danube, building the first one himself, and started a railroad system connecting Budapest to all parts of Hungary and the world so Hungary could develop a major metropolitan area.

Compare this heater to the ones in the Eszterházy Palace. This one is fed from the front so István himself could keep it stoked.

They had musical instruments for their personal use rather than for court musicians. Again, rather than showing off with his money to amuse himself and impress others, Duke István spent his money modernizing Hungary by founding and supporting scientific societies, improving agriculture, industry and transportation, and otherwise promoting intellectual development.

Can you see why Count István Széchenyi is considered the greatest Hungarian and his statues and busts are everywhere in Hungary? Everywhere there are streets, plazas, buildings, and parks named after him. There are no statues for Count Miklós Eszterházy in Hungary. He may have had the title "the magnificent" but he and his descendants turned their backs on Hungary when reform threatened their wealth and extravagant lifestyle. The Eszterházys were among the conservatives who opposed the liberal efforts of István and other reformers of the time. The Hungarian reformers were all put to death in 1848 for challenging the old way. István survived at the time but had a nervous breakdown when his fellow reformers were all executed. Later he committed suicide later rather than face execution when the Austrian emperor came after him for the good he had done for Hungary. His life example underlies why I am proudly a liberal rather than a conservative. Invest in people, not things.


  1. Sometimes I wonder if you two ever do missionary work or if you just went as tourists!

  2. We are in the middle of everything and pass these things everyday--especially when they send us all over the place to inspect missionary apartments 2 hours away or 3 hours away to Budapest for conferences etc. My camera is with my cell phone so we can whip it out when we pass something of interest. This is our missionary journal.