Schloss Esterhazy (Eisenstadt)

Schloss Esterhazy Eisenstadt



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History of Schloss Esterhazy

Esterházy Palace, Esterházyplatz 5. Tel .: +43 (0) 2682 63004-0, E-Mail:


Schloss Esterhazy or Castle Esterhazy is a former residence of Esterhazy aristocratic family. Schloss Esterhazy was erected in 1663- 73 under supervision of Carlo Martino Carlone for Paul I, first Prince of Esterhazy of Galantha. Prince himself explained his love for lavish residence by claiming that he was in fact of the royal blood and even claimed to be a direct descendant of barbarian king Attila. There is no scientific proof, however, that this Hungarian noble family has any connection to the legendary war chief.



On the site of today's chateau there was a Gothic castle, the origins of which date back to the 13th century. It was owned by the Gutk family, who owned numerous estates in western Hungary. In 1364 the castle was acquired by the Kanizsay family and extensively expanded. With permission from the Hungarian King Louis the Great, the family built a wall around the entire town of Eisenstadt, which enclosed the castle.

Between 1445 and 1464 the castle and the entire town came into the possession of the Habsburgs. The castle was initially only pledged by them, which is why no conversions were made. According to the reconciliation of Emperor Frederick III with the Hungarian king Mathias Corvinus, the city returned to the Kingdom of Hungary along with the entirety of what was then western Hungary (approximately today's Burgenland).

In 1622 the castle came into the administration of the Esterházy family as a pawn - as an object of exchange after the Peace of Nikolsburg, in which Nikolaus Count Esterházy ceded the rule of Munkács in north-eastern Hungary to Gábor Bethlen. In 1649 Nikolaus' son Ladislaus bought the castle from Ferdinand III; since then the area has been in the uninterrupted ownership of the Esterházy. Since the city of Eisenstadt (within the city walls) was not subject to them, but had bought the rank of a royal Hungarian free city in 1648, the family initiated settlement activity a short distance west of the castle (where the Jewish community settled, among other things).

After the death of Ladislaus, his brother Paul I had the castle converted into a baroque palace in the 1650s, which remained the main residence of the family, which was soon raised to the rank of prince, for 300 years. Carlo Martino Carlone was commissioned with the planning, stonemason work was assigned to the masters Hieronymus Bregno, Ambrosius Ferrethi and the brothers Ambrosius and Giorgio Regondi from Kaisersteinbruch. The renovation took about ten years. The work that was later necessary came to a standstill due to the second Turkish siege in 1683.

In the 18th century the castle was only slightly changed on the outside. Most of the modifications concerned the interior. Deliveries of hard stone from Kaisersteinbruch, the "Kaiserstein", were made in 1745/1746 for the stone bridge construction over the castle moat, in 1761 by master Johann Michael Strickner for the new main staircase. 1790-1794 the opposite stable and guard buildings were built.

At the beginning of the 19th century (1805-1815), under Nicholas II, Karl Ehmann converted the building into a classicist palace based on plans by the architect Charles de Moreau. In the course of this, the moat was filled in. However, the work had to be stopped due to the occupation of Eisenstadt by the Napoleonic troops and could no longer be continued due to the financial burden on the Esterházy from the war against the French. That is why only the middle part of the princely residence planned by Moreau, more than twice as large, still exists today. Major renovations were carried out at the end of the 19th century, but these did not change much in terms of appearance.


After the Second World War, part of the Burgenland state government was housed in the castle during the occupation period. After 1969, parts of the castle were leased from the state of Burgenland and managed by a state-owned operating company. This lease, which included extensive renovation and adaptation work, ended on December 31, 2009, as the state was not willing to participate financially in the Esterházy Foundation's ambitious expansion plans.

During the renovation of the entire roof landscape, which was carried out until 2021, all four towers, the spiral corridor including chimneys, balustrades, decorative attachments, onion roofs as well as a sundial and tower clock were comprehensively renewed in four sections. During the refurbishment, the use of certain historical plastering techniques was taken up again and "disappeared" cornices were re-established or the portals returned to their original, baroque position.

The palace's historic ballroom is known as the Haydn Hall and is often used as a concert hall. Joseph Haydn worked from 1761 to 1803 as a court musician, conductor and composer at the Esterházy princely court. In addition, he set up works for performances in Esterházy Palace (Fertöd) and conducted more than 1000 performances as Kapellmeister. Since 2009, the permanent exhibition "Haydn explosive", dedicated to this artistic epoch, has been on display in the Sala Terrena of Eisenstadt Castle.

Since 1986, Esterházy Palace has also been the seat of the Burgenland Haydn Festival Association, which took place in the palace from 1989 to 2016. For 2017, the Esterhazy companies announced HERBSTGOLD, an annual successor festival to the Haydn Festival taking place in September, which is intended to appeal to young audiences in Eisenstadt with a mix of jazz, Roma, Balkan and classical music as well as culinary delights. Esterházy Palace, along with the Orangery in the Palace Garden, serves as the setting for the HERBSTGOLD Festival. The musical event also focuses on works by Haydn, Beethoven, Mozart and Schubert.

In addition to recurring cultural events, Esterházy Palace also hosts numerous exhibitions run by Esterhazy companies. The exhibition concept is based on comprehensive permanent exhibitions as well as additional changing annual exhibitions. The topics range from the 300-year construction history of the palace, the way of life of the Esterházy princes and Melinda Esterházy, and the life story of Josef Haydn. In the basement is the largest wine museum in Austria, which shows over 700 exhibits, including the oldest tree press in Burgenland.



The castle complex includes the main building with the castle chapel and the former princely stable and main guard building in the entrance area (built in 1793 by the princely master builder Joseph Ringer according to plans by the architect Johann Henrici). There is also a listed portal and the Emerikus fountain (late 19th century).


Esterházy Palace Park

The palace park belonging to Esterházy Palace was laid out in 1624 by Count Nikolaus Esterházy and covers an area of ​​50 hectares. It is one of the most important landscape gardens of the 19th century and, like Esterházy Palace, has been a listed building since 1925. Due to the variety of flowers and the orangery, the palace park is considered the oasis and green lung of the city. The Leopoldine Temple in the eastern part of the park has established itself as a popular wedding location. In 1962, the city of Eisenstadt signed a contract with the owner, Paul Esterházy, which opened a large part of the park to the public. The Esterházy Palace Park has been regularly renovated and revitalized since 1996 by the "Association for Lease, Preservation and Care of the Esterhazy Palace Park" and the "Association of Friends of the Eisenstadt Palace Park", which was founded in 1987. However, on September 30, 2021, the lease agreement between the city of Eisenstadt and Esterházy, which was signed in 1996, expired. Instead of the “Association for Lease, Maintenance and Care of the Esterházy Castle Park”, the city of Eisenstadt and the Esterházy companies founded a non-profit company. Until 2051, Schlosspark GmbH regulates the cooperation in the castle park, such as its preservation and further development. The palace park remains open to the public.

On November 9, 1962, the Austrian postal service issued a definitive stamp of the Austrian Architectural Monuments stamp series with a value of 3.50 Schilling.