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A residence in the marshland

The Esterházy palace in Fertőd is one of Hungary’s most important historic monuments. It is a Hungarian example of Rococo architecture of European standard. The history of its construction dates back to a long time. Its origin is obscure. The first record dates from 1720. In that year, József Esterházy (1689–1721) commissioned a Viennese architect, Anton Erhard Martinelli (1684–1747) to design a twenty-room mansion for his estate in Süttör.

Today, we see no remains of this early building. Yet it still stands, built into the current palace. It was expanded by Miklós (1714–1790), the second-born son of József Esterházy, when he created the palace known today. Miklós had the opportunity for large-scale constructions when his brother, Prince Pál Antal (1711–1762), died in 1762 without any children. Thus, the title of prince, along with the massive fortune, was inherited by Miklós, who immediately set about rebuilding the small mansion in Süttör. In 1765, he changed the name of the estate, too. He renamed it Eszterháza. Ultimately, developments took about a quarter of a century. The largest Rococo building complex in the country was finally completed by the mid-1780s. Prince Miklós Esterházy was called as "the Magnificent" after his splendid palace, Eszterháza.

In 1721, Nicholas was also a child. The construction was carried out according to Martinelli's plans, and a contract was made with carpenter Simon Mödlhammer to make the roof structure. Instead of the minor Nicholas, the work was directed by a guardianship council, which was entrusted with the care of the child's affairs until he grew up. The guardian council was directed by the children's mother, Baroness Octavia Maria Gilleis (1688–1762). The design of the garden was entrusted to Imperial Garden Engineer Anton Zinner. An early version of the palace garden was completed by the 1730s. It consisted of regularly, symmetrically arranged flower beds. Nicholas Esterházy took over the management of his affairs and the estate in 1738, reaching the age of majority. He had already remodeled the southern part of the garden: he extended the southern end of the garden and cut flower beds and fountains into the forest of Lés to the south. Researchers are divided on when the three roads were cut into the Lés Forest. The roads are straight promenades lined with rows of trees, a popular element of Baroque garden art. Three roads were cut into the park of Süttör Palace: one in the center line of the palace, towards the South, and two others at an angle, in the south-west and south-east. There is an opinion that predates the origin of roads, but most researchers believe that the two sloping alleles were created in the 1740s by order of Nicholas Esterházy. At this time, a certain J. M. Hahn was involved in the design of the garden.

We have already mentioned that the small palace of Süttör was built into the later palace, so its walls are also included in the current building. This building was immortalized from the North in a painting made around 1760. However, the painting was lost or destroyed at the end of World War II. It was only captured on a 1928 black-and-white photo-negative. The photo shows that the Süttör palace was a one-storey building, much smaller than today's palace. Essentially, this building was incorporated into the middle of today’s palace. It also had a separate outbuilding. The barn and kitchen were located in the eastern outbuilding (left) and the carriage house in the western outbuilding (right). These were later incorporated into the side parts. The garden was completely rebuilt as early as the 1770s, and the garden form known today dates from the early 20th century.The northern courtyard was not yet there, the curved side sections were not yet there. Instead, a masonry fence and a presumably wooden gate closed the courtyard from the North. Together with the park of Süttör palace, it was still a building worthy of the residence of a count. However, Miklós Esterházy had to wait almost a quarter of a century to continue building his small palace in the swamp. Then another quarter of a century passed and Eszterháza was now only referred to as the "Hungarian Versailles".



Dávid Ferenc: A süttöri Esterházy kastély és pertinenciája 1760-ban. Soproni Szemle, LXII. évf. (2008) 3. sz. 294–305.

Fatsar Kristóf: Anton Erhard Martinelli 1720. évi tevékenysége Süttörön. Ars Hungarica, XXVIII. évf. (2000) 1-2. sz. 191–196.

Fatsar Kristóf: Az eszterházai lúdlábsétány kialakulásának története. 4D Tájépítészeti és Kertművészeti Folyóirat, I. évf. (2006) 3. sz. 10–17.

Fatsar Kristóf: Átváltozások. Eszterháza nagy parterjének vázlatos története. In: MM XC: Tanulmányok és esszék a 90 éves Mőcsényi Mihály tiszteletére. [4D könyvek.] Szerk. Fatsar Kristóf. Budapest, 2009. 77–90.

Mőcsényi Mihály: Eszterháza korszakai. Eszterháza Kulturális, Kutató- és Fesztiválközpont, Fertőd, 2016


Photo: Süttör Palace on a lost painting around 1760. Photo was taken in 1928. Eszterháza Centre for Culture, Research- and Festival, Public Benefit Ltd. Photo Gallery, Digital Archive.



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