Festetics Palace, Keszthely
Festetics Palace is the heart of the well-kept Hungarian city of Keszthely – the capital of the north-west of Lake Balaton. It feels like you are transported to Paris! You really do not expect to see the aristocratic Baroque palace in the pretty little town that reminds you of France. Around it there is a romantic park, similar to the scenery for the movie about royal love. We ask you to join us on the excursion around one of the most famous palaces of Hungary.
By the way, all articles about attractions on Balaton include Festetics Palace.
History of the palace
The palace and park complex appeared in the middle of the 18th century. Its construction had lasted for more than a century! It was built thanks to the efforts of one of the richest and most noble families of Hungary – the Festetics. Palace in Keszthely became one of the best in Hungary and beautiful works of art are collected inside its walls.
The Festetics were famous patrons who sought to maintain and develop education, literature and art. Thanks to this family a gymnasium appeared in the Hungarian town – the first agricultural school in Europe (it still exists today, but as a university faculty). Also a therapeutic bath on Lake Hévíz, a hospital, a pharmacy...
It is not surprising that the palace breathes with luxury! It is preserved to the present day: the castle was lucky and it was not damaged during the World War II. And now it is maintained in excellent condition. Of course, the representatives of the famous family no longer live in their family abode: they left it in 1944. Although their descendants are now living in Austria, from time to time they make a visit to their ancestral home.
Palace in facts
- Festetics Palace is the third largest in Hungary.
- Its construction lasted for a century: it was started in 1745. And the palace obtained its present form only in the 1880s.
- Originally it was planned to make only 34 rooms. But the building was rebuilt many times, and all new “wings” were added.
- There are 101 rooms in the palace! 18 chambers are available for visitors of the castle.
- The palace in Keszthely was built in the shape of a horseshoe.
- There are more than 80 thousand books in its library! One of the most valuable copies is the autographed music notes of the famous Austrian composer Haydn.
- 200 thousand people visit the Palace at Balaton every year.
Palace rooms and exhibits
The guest wing is now open for visits. Different halls of the palace are dedicated to the representatives of the Festetics family, who made the greatest contribution to the development of the region and the country.
- Christopher Festetics was breeding Hungarian horse breeds.
- George I Festetics founded Georgikon, the first agricultural college in the Europe.
- Paul Festetics III became the attorney of the Hungarian Queen Maria Theresa.
- Tassilo Festetics II married Princess Mary Hamilton. He has gotten the title of prince. And developed connections in Eastern Europe. As a dowry, the princess brought masterpieces of art, sculpture, rare books, and handmade furniture to the palace. The interior of the palace is really amazing. Just imagine, if you belonged to a noble family, you would live among this luxury!
- The first room is dedicated to Christopher Festetics, the founder of the castle. The canvases on the walls depict the hunt and moments from rural life.
- Green Salon is dedicated to the Festetics, who were engaged in horse breeding. The paintings depict Hungarian breed of horses.
- Room with fireplace. You can see the marble sculpture of the favorite dog of Lady Mary Hamilton, who was a Scottish princess and wife of Tassilo II. The room itself is made in the Renaissance style, using valuable oak.
- Stairs. Just look at the wooden balusters and curly bends that adorn the railing! Fine carving on the panels and a magnificent chandelier! Nowadays, the flight of stairs is turned into an art gallery, which tells about the former owners of the castle.
- Art gallery or George's corridor. The walls are decorated with six paintings by the French artist. Only three of them were preserved after the World War II.
- Red room. Salon of Maria Theresa. It bears the name of the Hungarian queen, whose portrait adorns the wall. Paul Festetics was a personal attorney and advisor of the queen. Next to the portrait of the queen, there is a picture of her daughter – the French queen Marie Antoinette. Most of the furniture in this room came from the royal family. For example, an amazing secretaire inlaid with ivory.
- Blue interior in the Empire style. It is an unprecedented luxury! Blue vases made of rare Meissen porcelain, decorated with wonderful birds and ornaments. Furniture made in France. This room introduces us to the generation of the Festetics family, who lived in the palace in the middle of the 19th century.
- Library. Imagine it is a two-story library! This is the most interesting place in the whole palace. It feels like you arein Hogwarts, and Harry Potter is about to exit the secret door. By the way, there really is a secret door in the Festetics Palace, as in all self-respecting castles! It is disguised as a bookcase with books. And there is a hidden spiral staircase on the top of the second floor. It is an amazing place.
Just look at the fancy monograms! And the mezzanine, decorated with woven branches. The appearance of the library remained completely untouched: exactly the same as it was at the end of the 19th century. It has 80 thousand books and engravings. The most important treasure is the autographed music notes of the famous composer Franz Joseph Haydn. All these relics miraculously survived during the World War II. The Soviet major Ilya Shevchenko saved them. He was the first to see the library after the liberation of Keszthely. Together with the keeper of the library, they laid it with bricks, and hung the inscriptions in Russian and Hungarian – "The zone of chemical contamination." Hunters for war trophies were afraid to go inside.
- A luxurious white room with brilliant chandeliers and mirrors in gilding is the venue for the most significant events of the city. And this is a favourite place of the couples in love to get married in: the hall was turned into a Wedding Palace! White Salon – one of the most elegant places in the palace.
When you get a little tired from the royal boudoirs, look into the fun interactive room. It is alive! Everything is spinning, twirling, talking! It is the most interesting place for children. And only here you can understand the Festetics family tree – during the tour it is easy to get confused in the names. And right here everything is on smartboards.
Climbing up the tower of the palace is a thrilling adventure! A couple of dozen steps up the spiral staircase, and you are at the top. It is worth it: a magnificent panorama of Lake Balaton! It turns out it is so close! And the city itself is right in front of you.
Park and greenhouse
After a walk through the luxurious chambers, you must stroll through the magnificent park. You are surrounded by the sprawling trees, which are already several hundred years old, intoxicating aromas of flowers, music of fountains. All this grace is completely free: you do not need to pay for the entrance. 70 thousand flowers are blooming every year, delighting with their charming scent. There is a majestic fountain in front of the palace, and in the courtyard there is a small pond and turtles live in it.
In the park complex there is a palm house, preserved from the end of the 19th century. The tropical greenhouse opened its doors to visitors in 2012. The collection has plants from different parts of the world, from Florida to Tahiti. There are more than 500 hibiscuses! Maestro Eiffel himself, the author of the Eiffel Tower, worked on the metal forging that adorns the building.
Coffee shop and wine cellars
You need a cup of coffee in order to prosses all the information presented by the guide. You can drink it right there in the palace, in an amazing coffee shop: it is all hung up with old clocks! You can sit with coffee on the terrace, in the park. And we want to tell you the secret: in the castle there are notable wine cellars of Festetics, where you can enjoy Hungarian wines :)
Exhibitions and events
Festetics Palace has become a museum, which hosts many interesting events! For example, magical evenings: ladies and gentlemen dress in Baroque outfits and stroll slowly around the palace with glasses of champagne.
How to get there
A walk from the city beach takes 25 minutes through Erzsébet királyné útja. By bus – 20 minutes (route №1732). From the train station to the castle you need to walk for 20 minutes through Kossuth Lajos u. You can get there by bus № 1673 in 10 minutes. Routes № 6391, 6395, 6316 will also take you there.
Admission: from 2700 forints. Ticket with a discount (people of age from 6 to 26 and after 62) – 1350 forints.
- Accompanied by the guide – 10 thousand forints from the group.
- Visiting of the tower: 500 forints.
- By purchasing a ticket to visit the palace, you also choose which other museums (included in the general complex) you can visit. For example, Carriage Museum, Amazon House, Palm House.
Opening hours: depends on the season. Please note that ticket offices close half an hour before the museum closes.
- July 1 – August 31. From Monday to Sunday, from 9:00 to 18:00. On Wednesday: from 9:00 to 12:00.
- September 1 – 30. From Monday to Sunday, from 10:00 to 17:00.
- October 1 – April 30. From Tuesday to Sunday, from 10:00 to 17:00
- May 1 – June 30. From Monday to Sunday, from 10:00 to 17:00.