The complex of buildings of the Esterházy Castle in Fertőd and the contemporary history exhibition in it is the main attraction of the town of Fertőd, one of the outstanding tourist attractions of Hungary. Esterháza is located in the eastern part of theFertőd, about 400 metres from the centre, along the road 8518, which runs roughly east-west through the town.
It took its present form in the second half of the 18th century, based on the ideas and plans of Miklós Esterházy (Fényes). It was designed by several architects, such as Martinelli, Jacoby and Menyhért Hefele, but the complex was essentially the work of Miklós Esterházy (Fényes). It took him nearly 20 years to build the present complex, which is a worthy counterpart to the Schönbrunn in Vienna and Versailles in Paris. The Baroque complex is a unique architectural phenomenon of its time. Thanks to the artistic patronage of the Esterházy dukes, the castle was one of the main cultural centres of late 18th century Hungary. "It is also called the 'Hungarian Versailles'. Its heyday lasted from 1768 to 1790. The first large-scale celebrations were held in 1770, when the Duke presented his court to the Viennese aristocracy.
The predecessor of today's Fertőd was the village of Süttör. The village was first under the rule of the powerful Kanizsayak, then became the Nádasdy estate, and later, in 1671, after the leaders of the anti-Habsburg movement for independence were condemned, it was taken over by the Chamber of Commerce. In 1681, Pál Esterházy bought the property confiscated by the imperial administration.
The site of the present castle was previously occupied by the U-shaped Sarród hunting lodge, built in 1720 under the direction of József Esterházy. The hunting lodge was located on the outskirts of Süttör, but territorially it belonged to the village of Sarród. In 1762, Miklós Esterházy (Fényes) commissioned the Sarród hunting lodge to be completely remodelled, enlarged and rebuilt into a castle of aristocratic splendour. The new castle complex was probably designed and built jointly by Menyhért Hefele and Miklós Jacoby. By the time the present castle was completed in 1766, a new settlement had sprung up around it. It became Eszterháza (now part of Fertőd), named after the Esterházy family. In 1946, a Horticultural High School and College was established in one of the wings of the castle.
In the castle, the courtyard opens onto a magnificent wrought-iron gate with three arches. A picturesque flight of flights of steps leads to the central section, which contains a rich banqueting hall, and to the belvedere, crowned with a lace-worked stone balustrade. The first-floor banqueting hall features a fresco by Josef Ignaz Mildorfer entitled The Triumph of Apollo. On the ground floor, the sala terrena's spatial design and richly modelled stuccoes draw attention to themselves. The frescoes in the chapel were also painted by Ignaz Josef Mildorfer in 1766.
The buildings and structures that remain as part of the castle complex are the former economic administration building and the former music hall (now a museum and the mayor's office).
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