Festetics Palace

Festetics Palace


Located: Kastély utca 1, Keszthely, Zala county Map

Constructed: 1745 by Kristóf Festetics

Tel. 83 312 190

Open: 9am- 6pm Jul- Aug

9am- 5pm Tue- Sun Sep- Jun


Description of Festetics Palace

Festetics Palace is situated in a town of Keszthely, Zala county in Hungary. Festetics Palace construction began in 1745 by the orders of Kristóf Festetics. György Festetics constructed a library wing between 1799 and 1801. Festetics Palace is famous for one of the largest libraries that holds over 100,000 books and documents. In the 1880's it was reconstructed in a neo- Baroque architectural style under supervision of architect Viktor Rumpelmayer and after his death in 1885 by Gusztáv Haas and Miksa Paschkisch. Festetics Palace consists of two wings and over 100 rooms. In was turned into a museum in 1974.



At the beginning of the 18th century, Keszthely was owned by several landlords. Kristóf Festetics bought his parts from the biggest owner, János Pethő, in 1739. The construction of the Baroque castle began in the middle of the 18th century and was remodeled several times during this century. Between 1883 and 1987 it was extended with a neo-baroque tower and new parts of the building. As a result, the main façade of the U-shaped (cour d'honneur arrangement) single-storey castle, divided by middle and side rhizalites, lost its former symmetry. The castle consists of 101 rooms. In front of the entrance to the castle is the statue of the most famous member of the family, Count György Festetics, who considered culture to be of paramount importance. The castle shows how the lords lived in the 18th and 19th centuries through 20 halls. Operetta concerts are held every week in the Mirror Hall.

World War II did not wreak havoc in the city, the Festetics Castle building, part of its furniture and library remained intact. The escape of the library is also due to the fact that, to prevent looting, the library wing was walled up along with the fixtures stored there. The more valuable copies of the library's holdings were later transported to Budapest and merged into the collection of the National Széchényi Library, and then replaced with other volumes. Much of the castle's furnishings were scattered and emigrated during and after the war. Smaller furnishings and ornaments have fallen out of the castle in or after the chaos of the wartime under unclear conditions. The furniture, which fled to the Hévíz spa hospital and was damaged there, was later transported to Budapest, to the Museum of Applied Arts for restoration. Other high-quality furniture, considered endangered, was also transported to Budapest from the castle after the war, treating it as "abandoned goods" in the terminology of the time. Thus, the most significant of the castle's furnishings, especially in the XVIII. century French rococo and classicist furniture can still be found in the Museum of Applied Arts, in the warehouse or in the exhibition space of the Museum in Nagytétény Castle. It is reassuring that during his visit to Keszthely on 16 April 2013, Secretary of State János Lázár, Prime Minister, expressed in an oral statement the government's commitment and intention to develop equipment from the Festetics Castle in the near future. , thus enriching and making more authentic the most visited castle museum in the country. The gradual handover of these artefacts began in 2014 and continued in 2015 and then in 2016. Also from the warehouse of the Museum of Applied Arts and the furniture exhibition at the Nagytétény Castle Museum, several salon furniture, clearly of Festetics origin (and presumably Hamilton origin), were returned to the castle, where they were integrated into the gradually renewing aristocratic interior design exhibition.

The handover of other rare and highly delicate artificial furniture is still pending, but with future developments there may be hope for further exhibition expansion and for the enrichment and enhancement of the interiors. To this end, the Castle Museum will continue to pay special attention to and thank the public and art collectors for their helpful information and offers about the appearance, rental or sale of artefacts of presumably Festetics origin to which they have become aware or are in their possession.


On June 18, 2015, after a long preparation, the partial reconstruction of the former large women's salon of Festetics Castle was handed over, which was the most spectacular development to date during the nearly 40-year existence of the interior exhibition. The pure XVI. The Biedermeier furniture of the Louis-style room, which did not fit in style and may have been arranged until then, was then replaced by tender sources and private collectors in a French, 16th-century French, XVI. Louis-style, 11-piece, gilded living room upholstered with woven fabrics, which was accompanied by furniture from the Museum of Applied Arts and other freshly restored Festetics-origin furniture. The salon set was reported in detail in the article of magyarmuzeumok.hu dated 25.06.2015. The reconstruction was later carried out by a French Aubusson technique, III. Napoleon-style woven rugs as well as gilded bronze ornaments: clocks, candelabra, fireboxes and other living room furniture were also added. With all this, the furnishings of the former princess's salon have been enriched in a much closer way to its original condition, creating such a uniform standard and timeless atmosphere that it is currently unique in Hungarian castle museums, measurable only for Western samples. Perspective plans also include reconstructing the salon’s textile wallpaper and changing the layout of the furniture so that by changing the visitor route, the salon set, along with the carpet filling the entire width of the salon, could be placed symmetrically in the center of the room instead of the current one-sided placement. The full history and transformations of the salon over time have been reported during 2016 in a thematic series of articles on the castle museum website, also illustrated with archive images.

On December 16, 2015, the historical reconstruction of the park of Festetics Castle was handed over. As part of the investment, the park was restored in Victorian style according to the original 19th-century Milner plans. The park was reconstructed from more than 243 million forints and renovated, including the Princess Chamber Garden, the lake and bridge, the fountains, and the parterre.

On April 29, 2015, the 2 billion forint-renovated Amazon House, separate from the castle, was handed over, with an aristocratic travel-themed exhibition, a palm house, an improved roof and some renovated rooms in the castle, including a new, modern exhibition hall. an exhibition on the Festetics family, a new ticket office and a museum shop. However, much of the castle museum, both the halls in the north wing and the 40-year-old aristocratic lifestyle interior exhibition, have been left unchanged by the 2 billion project, so a complete reconstruction of them is yet to come. At the same time, during the renovation period, more than ten pieces of equipment and works of art that had once been in the aristocratic castle were returned to Keszthely. Thanks to the art purchase program launched on the initiative of the Minister leading the Prime Minister's Office, János Lázár, the exhibition space also increased by almost 10 million forints with three works of art. At the opening, six gilded silver glasses from 1817, with the coat of arms of the Festetics family on them, were bought by the Hungarian state at an auction in Vienna. The carved marble statue of Countess Mary Victoria Hamilton, who lived in the castle, was bought back at auction in Budapest, and the neo-rococo salon set from the first half of the 19th century, similar to the former castle furnishings, was also owned by the state at an auction in Budapest.

There are plans to renovate and expand the hunting museum in the back tract of the castle park, and to eliminate the road dividing the park since the 1980s with the involvement of the municipality. Another basic need would be the complete mechanical renovation of the castle, which was left out of the previous developments, mainly concerning the reconstruction of other buildings.

Thanks to the function room of the Amazon House, the castle's function halls, which have so far functioned as function rooms but are partially closed to the public or presented in their non-original function, could be freed up and opened up as another worthy exhibition venue. Thus, in the future it would be possible to reconstruct and more authentically present the former large dining room used as a concert venue, called a mirror room, in its original dining room function, for which the hall's features, size and white-gold neo-rococo decoration are ideal.


The Helikon library

The most significant figure in Keszthely – and also the Festetics family – is György Festetics (1755–1819), who lived in Keszthely from 1791. Between 1799 and 1801, he built a library wing at the castle, supported the publication of numerous magazines and works of fiction. From 1817, he organized the Helikon celebrations twice a year, where he hosted the most famous poets and writers of Transdanubia. Hence the saying from the mouth of Dániel Berzsenyi, which calls Keszthely a "little Hungarian Weimar".
The Helikon library is approx. Its collection of 80,000 volumes was created by the Festetics family. Among the books are several old encyclopedias and old prints. This is Europe's largest intact nobleman's library. The carved oak furniture of the famous great hall of the library was made by carpenter János Kerbl from Keszthely.


House of Balaton Wines

Since 2005, the 500-year-old cellar system of the castle has housed the Balatoni Borok Háza, which offers guided tours combined with wine tasting.


The Helikon Castle Museum

The Festetics castle, which also includes the Helikon library, as the fourth largest castle in the country, welcomes visitors with significant exhibitions and prestigious music events after its complete renovation. After the renovation, a permanent hunting museum opened its doors in the new museum building. In the attic of the new building, one of Europe's largest field tables can be seen at the historical model railway exhibition.


On a stamp

In Hungary, on March 27, 1992, a HUF 15 stamp depicting the castle was issued. (Designed by József Vertel.)


The castle park

The 42-hectare park is a nature reserve. There are several special types of wood in it. The Chinese fern pines were planted during the time of György Festetics. The oldest tree is a 400-year-old pedunculated oak (Quercus robur).


The Carriage Museum

Hungary's largest preserved collection of carriages can be found in the former riding stables in the castle park. The exhibition consists of several carriages and carriages that came from the famous carriage factory of Fülöp Kölber in Budapest.