History of Building Esterházy Castle
The construction of the castle was initiated by Josef Esterházy in 1720 on the basis of Anton Erhard Martinelli’s plans, who was contracted to build a 22-room hunting lodge in three months. This was the predecessor of today’s palace.
Nikolaus ‘the Magnificent’ Esterházy became the leader of the entailed property in 1762 and began the construction of the today’s palace with the assistance of Jakoby, Hefele and Mödlhammer; Austrian masters. When Prince Nikolaus looked for a site for the palace, he chose a land which first had seemed to be completely inadequate for construction and thus had plenty of obstacles to hinder the plan. His father’s hunting lodge was in neglected condition. Water had flooded the surroundings creating a boggy and swampy area full of insects; a place where fever could have been a permanent guest. Construction began on his command: canals were dug, dams were constructed and by investing nearly 11 million golden forints, the realization of a prince’s dream, the new Palace of Eszterháza in its full luxury was completed in 1766.
Esterházy Palace in an old drawing
The palace was a labour of love for the Prince, who felt really attracted to Eszterháza. At the beginning of the construction he intended it to be a summer residence but later spent most of the year here. He always enjoyed himself here and always had some plans to be realised. He used to be a gentle master of his subordinates and a cordial host. The prince not only loved luxury but also held his ground as a tough soldier; first as colonel, later general of the Imperial Army, then owner of the 33rd infantry regiment. From 1764 to 1787, being the captain of the Hungarian Noble Guards, he maintained an almost permanent relationship with Queen Maria Theresa. The year 1773 was prominent in the history of the Palace as Nikolaus (the Magnificent) Esterházy could serve as a host for Maria Theresa, Queen of Hungary.
Esterházy Palace around 1730
Music silenced in Eszterháza in 1790. The visionary and creator of the Palace Orchestra passed away. The heir, Anton Esterházy did not like Eszterháza. The luxurious dreamland became left on its own. The heirs retired to their homes in Kismarton and Vienna. The paths of the park became covered with weed, rain leaked in through the roofs, daub peeled off the walls. The statues, vases and fascinating fountains that had once beautified the park went to ruin quickly. All the movable stones had been carried away, the opera house fell apart and the artistically decorated Sala Terrana served as a sheep kraal.
At the turn of the century conservation work was yet done on the order of the family. Countess Margit Cziráky moved into the renewed palace together with his husband, Prince Nikolaus IV and their children. The decay of the building reached its peak in World War II. The furniture of the castle was carried away, rain had poured in through the already ruined roof for years, the joists of the enormous floorspace framework became fungous, daub was peeing off the walls and the building complex was on its way to complete destruction. The resurrection of the palace started in 1959. Through this, a possibility of its utilisation for tourism was created and the palace has turned into a popular tourist attraction.