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A gilded decorative gate - wrought iron railings from the 18th century

Prince Nicholas Esterházy, the "Luxurious", also known as the "Pompaliking", started to develop his palace in Süttör into a large-scale building complex from 1762. The constructions lasted for about a quarter of a century. The first phase of construction took place in the 1760s. The side steadings were connected to the main building, which is the core of today's palace, at that time. The arched horseshoe-formed wings surrounding the cour d’honneur (formal courtyard) from the north were also built. This construction period was completed by the end of the decade. The palace, which was called Eszterháza from 1765, was only a single-floor one at that time and the middle part was crowned by a dome or tent-like roof. The second floor and the belveder were only erected in the 1770s.

The entrance of the palace was built at the end of the first expansion phase, in 1769. The traveler can approach the building from the North, through the cour d’honneur, which is closed by an ornate gilded wrought-iron gate. The portal was designed by architect Melchior Hefele. The Tyrolean-born Hefele was a remarkable master of classicizing late Baroque architecture. He designed buildings such as the Primate's Palace in Bratislava or the Episcopal Palace in Szombathely. Prince Nicholas Esterházy got acquainted with him as a drawing teacher for members of the Royal Hungarian Noble Bodyguards presumably in Vienna. The prince himself was a member of the bodyguards either and he was their captain, later on. However, Hefele’s participation in the first phase of the palace expansion raises questions: he may made plans to rebuild the middle part facing the cour d’honneur. However, it is uncertain what of these has been realized or, if so, what has survived.

The wrought-iron portal of Eszterháza was constructed by master blacksmith Johann Karl Franke according to Hefele's design. He also made the wrought-iron side gates of the garden. Franke was educated in Würzburg, where one of the greatest architectural enterprises of the era took place: the construction of the Archbishop's Palace, one of the most significant monuments of late Baroque architecture in Europe, lasted for about sixty years, from 1720 to about 1780. Even Hefele has visited Würzburg, where he studied in Georg Oegg's court locksmith's workshop. So they might have known each other with Franke also before.

Franke received a payment of 2631 Gulden and 36 Kreuzer for the gilded portal and a total of 2840 Gulden and 24 Kreuzer for the two side gates. This was a significant amount, but it must be taken into account that he had to pay for his assistants either. Furthermore, setting up the workshop and sourcing the raw material has also consumed a lot of money.

The amount can be estimated by comparing it with the annual salary of Joseph Haydn, the first conductor of the ducal orchestra. At that time, it was 400 Gulden in cash in addition to benefits in kind (daily meals, wine, firewood, etc.). It is also interesting to compare the blacksmith's salary with the price of some staple food at the time. A loaf of 1 pound 7 lot bread, or 60 dkg bread today, baked from white wheat flour, cost 1 Groat means 3 Kreuzer. The price of 8.5 dl of milk was 2 Kreuzer. 1 pound, so 0.56 kg of bacon 6 Kreuzer were asked for. 1 pound of soap was 39 Kreuzer, while 1 pound of sugar was 29 Kreuzer worth. 6 Kreuzer had to be paid for an alive hen and 60-80 Gulden for an alive cattle. 1 fathom (6.8 m3) of wood cost 3 Gulden 40 Kreuzer. It is important to note that 1 Gulden was worth 60 Kreuzer.

Wrought iron gates and grates for buildings were popular architectural elements of the Baroque and Rococo eras throughout Europe. Grates with intricate elements evoking plant forms have become ornaments for palaces, castles, bourgeois houses, churches and public buildings. Wrought-iron gratings became also simpler with the appearance of classicism, favoring calmer, simpler forms, in the last third of the 18th century.

In the 18th century, the country's iron mining took place in what was then called Upper Hungary and in Transylvania.Upper Hungary meant the mountainous regions of present-day Slovakia, as well as Börzsöny and Cserhát, which still belong to Hungary, the Mátra and Bükk mountains, and the Zemplén mountains. Henrik Fazola, a locksmith from Eger born in Würzburg, gained timeless merits in the development of iron production and iron production. He studied in Georg Oegg's locksmith service in his home town, like Hefel. In the 1760s, he mapped the iron ore deposits in the Bükk Mountains in Borsod County, and then founded smaller iron smelters in the Garadna and Szinva Valleys. However, his fortunes were consumed by these businesses. Nevertheless, the Hungarian Crown noticed the iron production in Bükk. In 1770 he took over the smelters and Maria Theresa founded the Hámor forge. This was the predecessor of the Diósgyőr forge, which later became famous. The queen appointed Fazola as the factory manager. who built an iron smelting factory in Ómassa, now part of Miskolc. However, Fazola not only engaged in iron mining and iron production, but also practiced his learned craft. He was a first-class blacksmith and locksmith. The hand-forged iron gate of the Eger County Hall is his work.

The gate was built around 1760 and is still one of the most important Baroque-Rococo monuments in the country. The gate rivals that of one of its contemporaries, which is the decorative gate of Fertőd.

 

Bibliography:

A Diósgyőri M. Kir. Vas- és Aczélgyár Története. 1765-1910. Szelenyi és Társa Könyvnyomdája, Miskolcz, 1910

Horányi Mátyás: Eszterházi vigasságok. Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, 1959

Rádóczy Gyula: Mária Terézia magyar pénzverése. Magyar Éremgyűjtők Egyesülete, Magyar Numizmatikai Társulat, Budapest, 1982

Vadászi Erzsébet: Magyar Versália. Műemlékek Állami Gondnoksága. Budapest, 2007

 

Photo No. 1: Johann Karl Franke: the main gate of the Esterházy Palace in Fertőd, 1769. Eszterháza Centre for Culture, Research and Festivals, Public Benefit Non-profit Ltd. Photo Gallery.

Photo No. 2: Henrik Fazola: the decorative gate of the Eger County Hall, circa 1760. Photo: Áron Tóth, 2010 ©

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