Schloss Esterházy is a palace in Eisenstadt, the capital of the state of Burgenland. Built in the late 13th century, it became the property of the Hungarian Esterházy family in 1622. Among the most important attractions of the region, the palace is open to visitors for both luxury tours rooms that for concerts and events hosted in the magnificent Haydnsaal, multi-purpose hall decorated with frescoes and paintings.
Schloss Esterházy History
Schloss Esterházy is a palace in Eisenstadt, Austria, the capital of the state of Burgenland. Built in the late 13th century, it became the property of the Hungarian Esterházy family in 1622. Under Paul I, first Prince Esterházy of Galántha, the estate was converted into a baroque castle becoming the main residence and the administrative center of the family.
The architectural history of the building includes a passage from a real medieval castle, built for defense, to a palace destined for comfort and ostentation. The moats were removed in the early nineteenth century and the architectural style was modified in various points to adapt to the taste of the times.
In 1364 the palace came into the possession of the powerful Kanizsai family and consequently underwent a substantial development, while in 1622 the property fell within the estates of the Esterházy family.
Few modifications were made during the high and late Baroque period. In the eighteenth century, the interior design and the stairs were almost everything that changed. Most areas had ovens and stucco ceilings. The only major construction of the building was the renewal of the two main staircases, which presently present themselves as then.
Prince Anton Esterhazy built considerably, despite being in power only for a short period (1790-1794). Nikolaus II, Anton's lost son, launched a program to convert the residence into a classic style thanks to the services of one of the most famous French architects of the classical revolution, Charles Moreau. The eastern side housed the theater and the opera, the western one the Esterházy image gallery. Between the two towers in the north the garden room would have been the precursor of today's magnificent Haydnsaal. As an entrance to this room, Moreau built an impressive entrance with large ramps on each end, resting on twenty Corinthian columns.
But the funds of Prince Nikolaus, though large, were not enough to complete the renovation work; the huge costs, together with the severe inflation and economic decline that the war brought to Austria, made sure that the renovations could never be completed, even by successive generations of principles. The large entrance designed by Nikolaus and Moreau remains incomplete, since the main entrance of the building remains to this day in its original position at the opposite end of the building, facing the city.
At the end of the nineteenth century, renovation work finally began. Few changes were made in the early part of the 20th century. In 1945, at the end of the Second World War, a major change was made to the purpose of the building: it housed the Burgenland state government office and later the national court for ten years. In 1969 the Burgenland state government took over a large part of the building through a lease.
Currently, the building is owned by the Esterházy Foundation. Being one of the most important buildings in Austria, it is one of the largest tourist attractions in the region. Visitors can view a number of rooms, as well as furnishings and works of art, and can also visit the vast grounds behind the building even on guided tours. There is also a wine museum and a gift shop.
The Haydnsaal, originally the large multi-purpose hall for festivals and banquets, is a work of art in itself in the Schloss Esterházy. With its size and the splendor of the decorations, it reflects the political, economic and cultural domain of the Esterházy family.
Today it is one of the most beautiful and acoustically perfect concert halls in the world. Its name dates back to the famous composer Joseph Haydn, who worked for almost forty years in the service of the Esterházy family. Many of his works have been composed and previewed at Eisenstadt and at the Schloss Esterházy.
The unique frescoes in the room come from that 17th century and are attributed to the painter Carpoforo Tencalla. The splendid frescoes and paintings on the ceiling represent scenes from "Metamorphosis" by the Roman poet and philosopher Apuleio. The three central segments and six volute rectangular panels portray scenes from the satirical novel "Amore e Psiche". The central panels depict the marriage of Love and Psyche in the presence of the Olympic gods, while the scenes taken from the lives of the two are captured in the rectangular panels.
The panels depict scenes taken from the myth surrounding the "Golden Hesperides". Among the ceiling frescos, the family bearings of the Esterházys are interspersed. Engraved in medallions with grisaille techniques are present allegorical female characters that symbolize the "Countries of the Crown of St. Stephen". The medallions that adorn the walls portray busts of Hungarian monarchs ranging from Stephen I to Emperor Leopold I.