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The Palace Park Royal Palace of Gödöllő

Királyi Kastély

The Palace Park

The Palace Park

Antal Grassalkovich I acquired Gödöllô and the neighbouring settlements in a gradual fashion between 1723 and 1748. Gödöllô, situated in the valley of the Rákos brook and having favourable natural endowments, was chosen to be made the centre of this area that was now unified in Antal Grassalkovich I’s possession. Parallel to the construction of the palace, plans were drawn up to consciously develop the settlement on a large scale. As part of this project, Grassalkovich had a palace garden made, which was divided into an upper and a lower garden by the palace itself. The garden, which clearly represented elements of aristocratic taste, financial well-being and political power alike, was created in French style, with Versailles serving as a model for it. An outstandingly unique feature of this formal garden is that it had not been placed in front of the main facade but is a continuation of the inner court bordered by the wings of the palace. The court was made splendid by lemon, orange and bay trees.
    The niche of the southern wing already had an operating small wall fountain in the time of Antal Grassalkovich I: the Baroque statue evokes an eventful scene with Heracles, a figure of Greek mythology, defeating the lion. The ornamental court, bordered by ballustrade, joined the upper garden by means of stairs. The upper garden had its end at about 440 metres (400 yards) from the building. The area between the rows of trees fringing the garden at both sides was divided by regular shaped flower beds. In the middle of the garden there was a fountain with formally-cut plants and a labyrinth behind.
    In the north-western part, portraits of Hungarian rulers were displayed in the pavilion standing on the so-called Kinghill. Opposite this, a rifle-range for shooting had also been put up. The formal garden also had great reputation for its plants that came as rarity in Hungary as well as its statues inspired by mythology. The lower garden was also fragmented by straight, treelined roads so typical of the Baroque landscape architecture. The vegetable-garden, the game park and the pheasantry were also created here.
    Bowing to the predominant trends of the age, the French garden was converted into an English, or in other words, a landscape garden towards the beginning of the 19th century by Antal Grassalkovich III (1771–1841) and his wife Leopoldina Esterházy (1776–1868). The stone fencing located at the back end of the upper garden had been taken down so that the size of the park could be enlarged. Certain elements of the garden had been left intact (among them the line of horse-chestnut trees, the Kinghill and the rifle-range), however, this newly-created park gave way to expressions and feelings of romanticism and sentimentalism rather than to the noble display of the older one. The park now became a finely-struck combination of gorgeous flower-beds sporting most extraordinary flowersand groups of trees found in a softlyarching system of paths. By ponding up the Rákos brook, two swan-ponds had been formed in 1817. The year 1837 brought along the construction of another orange-house, which further expanded the northern wing of the palace.
    Following the extinction of the Grassalkovich family’s male line (1841), the property was sequestered for a period of 9 years. Military action in the 1848–49 freedom fight presented major abuses to the palace with the orange trees having been burnt, the fencing being wholly demolished and the stock of game dispersing.
    After two interim owners, the palace and the domain were finally purchased by the Hungarian state in 1867. The state let free use of the palace and the park for Francis Joseph I (1830–1916) and Queen Elizabeth (1837–1898) as a coronation present. The small fore-courts in front of the main facade were intended for personal use by the king and the queen. Both fore-courts had a fringe of trees of lush foliage. The fore-court used by the king served as the scene for his daily walks. Its appearance was much simpler and less colourful than that of the Queen’s fore-court, in which the favourite flowers of the queen were planted (violets and sweet violets). A small wooden porch had been built outside the queen’s ground-floor rooms with exit to the garden. This is where the small wooden corridor started, through which it was possible for Elizabeth to get to the ridinghall in bad weather.
The ornamental court of the palace thanked its lovely atmosphere to a number of orange trees and yuccas. The landscape garden characteristics of the upper garden had been preserved all along.
    The so-called Reservé-garden (plant-starting garden) had been established south of the line of horse-chestnut trees, where in 1870 a palm-house, and then later, in 1895 a greenhouse was built. This was where the plants intended to be planted in the park were grown. In the south-western corner of the garden a nursery-garden was operating. At the end of the line of horse-chestnut trees, there stood a richly-ornamented wooden pavilion and the rifle-range renewed in 1875 was also there. In front of the orange-house, a skittlealley was to be found. When the royal family resided at the palace, the park was closed for the public, otherwise it was free to visit it in the given opening hours.
   The lower park was split into two by the northern railway line that was routed in this direction as a result of the ruler’s residence being situated here. The two swan-ponds at the front façade were banked up in 1873 and 1894. The pheasantry and the game park were kept due to the royal hunts. The lower park, which was still surrounded by a fence, was free to use for the public.
    After World War I, the palace became the resting-residence of governor Miklós Horthy (1868–1957). Only minor changes were applied to the landscape garden in this period (1920–1944). In the fore-court that once used to belong to the queen, an air-raid shelter was constructed. A circular fountain-pool of unreasonable proportions was added to the inner court. Farther down inside the park, they built a swimming pool with a small dressing-room that was in line with the end of the row of horsechestnut trees. Next to the major-domo’s building there used to be a tennis-court. From all of these, only the swimming pool is what still exists today.
The decades to come after World War II had witnessed a slow deterioration of the garden. New buildings (ware-houses, kindergarten) were put up in the neglected and weedy park, where a great number of out of place plants were planted. The rebirth of the park came with the reconstruction of the palace that gained momentum in 1994. This concerned mainly the 26.1-hectare upper park as the lower park is now a built-up public area.
    The two fore-courts were reconstructed in 1998 and 2000 in accordance with how they used to be in the royal period. In the queen’s fore-court the protruding, visible part of the Horthy air-raid shelter was demolished at this time. The swimming pool, which was a remnant of the Horthy era, was also dismantled and the place was given ornamental flooring and balustrade. The upper park still preserves the structure of the English or landscape garden. It is characterised by trees one hundred years old or older. Among the most precious tree species are gingko, Wellingtonia trees, ashes, white limes, yew-trees, maples, white oaks and ordinary horse-chestnut trees.

In the back of the park there remained patches of grass that are inhabited by protected plant species such as thlaspi, centaurea and ranunculus. The area of the park has been cleansed of out-of place plants, nursing of affected trees has begun and young trees have been planted.
    The fore-courts and the upper park were declared natural preserves in 1998. The reconstruction of the Kinghill pavilion was completed in 2004. A 5.2 hectare area of the upper park was renewed in 2010 as a romantic landscape garden.


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News and informations


European Day of Historic Gardens – April 26th 2024

The Committee of Ministers of the European Council adopted the "Cultural Routes" program in 2010. It aims to promote the common European culture through the presentation of the historical, artistic and social values of the historical gardens of the member states. The Royal Palace of Gödöllő joined the European Historic Gardens Route on June 27, 2023, with the support of the Hungarian Garden Heritage Foundation. This supports the exchange of experiences on practical issues such as the preservation and renewal of historic gardens, as well as their ecological and economic sustainability. This year, on April 26, the "European Day of Historic Gardens" event will be held for the fifth time, offering a glimpse into the common historical, cultural and botanical heritage of European united gardens. The Royal Palace of Gödöllő also participates in the series of events with a number of programs that help you discover the locations secrets of our English garden.       Program of activities   „Tales with Prince Magnus Mousecastle”- discovery package for families (available in Hungarian) Days and timetable of the activities: 26-28.04.2024. With Prince Magnus Mousecastle, the number one mouse dweller of the Royal Palace of Gödöllő, you can discover the secret places, animals and plants of the palace park. With the help of the workbook, you can acquire knowledge in a playful way, and the park map helps you orientate. The self-discovery package can be found at the palace’s ticket office this weekend at a discount of 500 HUF.   Park plants and insects nature trail Days and timetable of the activities: 26-28.04.2024. (available in Hungarian) The palace park, as part of the Danube-Ipoly National Park, has many special plant varieties that would not be so beautiful without the insects that pollinate them. These little creatures don't always get the attention they deserve, so you can get to know them better on the free educational trail at the weekend. “Treasures in the park” (available in Hungarian) Days and timetable of the activities: 26.04.2024. & 27.04.2024 During the museum pedagogical session, we visit the secret places, plants and animals of the park. We set off with a treasure hunt worksheet in the palace park, which is part of the Danube-Ipoly National Park. On the Day of European Historical Gardens (26.04.) The program can be visited in Hungarian with a discounted ticket price. “Bird watching” (available in Hungarian) Days and timetable of the activities: 27.04.2024. In the framework of an interactive walk, we visit the bird boxes of the palace park, get acquainted with the most popular species that like to nest here.  Our professional partner is the Gödöllő Local Group of the Hungarian Ornithological and Nature Protection Association. Royal Hill Pavilion visit Days and timetable of the activities: 26-28.04.2024. Located around 200 metres from the Palace, the Royal Hill Pavilion is the only remaining building in the Palace Park which dates from the Baroque period. It was Antal Grassalkovich I who had the hexagonal pavilion built in the 1760s. There are 54 oil paintings depicting Hungarian leaders and kings incorporated into the panelled walls of the pavilion. The building was reconstructed in 2002. The set of pictures were re-created by means of advanced photographic technology in 2004, and since then the pavilion may be visited on guided tours. On this day from 10.00 to 16.00 it can be visited free of charge.   “Take a walk in the park” Days and timetable of the activities: 26.04.2024. (available in Hungarian) During the park walk, walking among centuries-old trees, you can get acquainted with the history of the garden, but you can also get an insight into the flora and fauna of this protected natural area of national importance. Participation fee: discounted ticket price 1.000 HUF/person. A link to your website with the explanation of the activity and images of the activity    “Historical garden walk” Days and timetable of the activities: 26-27.04.2024. (available in Hungarian) We get acquainted with the construction history of the palace and the transformation of the park, including the English and French styles of garden and their uses. During the guided tour we also take a walk in the rarely visited front gardens. Participation fee: discounted ticket price 1.000 HUF/person. “Concert in the park” Days and timetable of the activities: 26.04.2024. A concert of chamber music can be heard in the magnificent palace park. The concert lasts for approximately 30 minutes. The program is free of charge.    
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Story cube – a new educational tool

Story cube – a new educational tool

Together with the Museum of King Jan III’s Palace at Wilanów and the Italian non-governmental organisation Stazione Utopia, we exchange knowledge and experiences as well as train and teach how to encourage local communities gathered around museums to engage in voluntary work and how to talk about cultural, natural and historical heritage in an interesting manner. Together with our colleagues from Hungary and Italy, we have created a publicly available educational tool – the story cube that supports volunteers and educators in learning how to build a unique story, organise arguments, build independent judgments about the object or phenomenon in question, while incorporating their own stories and experiences. Activities implemented as part of the project: International Learning, Teaching, Training (LTT) meetings, during which a group of experts from Wilanów, Gödöllő and Florence selected in the programme exchanges good practice and then trains one another in areas such as working with volunteers and immigrants as well as creating an engaged community around institutions. Four meetings: two in Warsaw and two in Florence and Gödöllő, respectively, have been held during the course of the project. Transnational Project Meetings (TPMs) in each of the participating organisations help us implement our planned activities effectively. Developing an educational tool, known as the story cube. The tool supports the adult education personnel in contacting the local community and engaging it in activities related to the voluntary programme. An online seminar to discuss the experiences we have gained and disseminate the educational tool we have developed is to be held in January 2023. Writing a series of articles on informal adult education and engaging the local community in the activities of institutions. Feel free to check out the materials on the Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe (EPALE): Local community engagement in museum programs: practices, experiences and challenges and Też tak chcę! Story cube – a new educational tool   As part of the Erasmus+ project, “Museum of Communities”, along with our partners from the Museum of King Jan III’s Palace at Wilanów and the non-governmental organisation Stazione Utopia in Florence, we have created a new publicly available educational tool.The story cube supports our work with volunteers in terms of creating engaging and unique stories about museum items. We have designed not one but two cubes: senses cube, to support the process of experiencing objects through our senses; mind cube, to encourage users to think and reflect critically. Story cubes allow the users to ask questions about heritage objects and look at them in a new manner, inspiring them to learn collectively and have a discussion. The tool may be used with both beginners and advanced storytellers. Story cubes are a universal solution to be used in adult education. The project has been co-financed by the European Commission from the Erasmus+ programme supporting strategic partnerships at a European level. Projects related to education and training promote the development of knowledge in Europe and make it possible to achieve the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy – sustainable development and social inclusion. Download the detailed instructions and a graphic template for the story cubes: Erasmus+ Storycube black and white Erasmus+ Storycube color Erasmus+ Mindcube black and white Erasmus+ Mindcube color Instructions
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The Via Habsburg, a Cultural Route certified by the Council of Europe, now has a Hungarian location.  As the initiation ceremony of the Royal Palace of Gödöllő, one of the most beautiful baroque buildings of Hungary, took place on 13 October 2023. Besides Hofrat Mag. Reinhold Sahl, president of the Via Habsburg Association, dr. Tamás Ujvári managing director of the Royal Palace of Gödöllő, and dr. György Gémesi, the mayor of Gödöllő, the partner institutions also attended the event. Thus, the National Heritage Institute, the Castle Headquarters and the Otto von Habsburg Foundation were also represented. There might not be other palace or historical building in Hungary that the public associates with the Habsburgs as much as the Royal Palace of Gödöllő, and there are several reasons for this: A Hungarian nobleman Antal Grassalkovich, an important ally of Maria Theresa, had the grand palace built in the mid-18th century.  Their relationship was not only a political relationship but also a mutual deep sympathy that later turned into a friendship. Therefore, the Queen of Hungary paid a visit to the palace in 1751, which was her easternmost visit. This close cooperation was profitable not only for the palace but for the town as well. It was a prospering period both architecturally and economically; the impact of that period can still be seen today. Besides Maria Theresa, there is one more well-known female member of the Habsburg family who is closely tied to the palace: As Empress Elisabeth, ”Sisi”, and Emperor Franz Joseph got the palace and the park as a coronation gift from the State of Hungary after the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867.  Thus, the Empress spent over 2000 days in Gödöllő throughout her life, mainly in the spring and autumn. The residence of the imperial couple was preceded by extensive renovation and redecoration. Additionally, an important innovation, a railway line was built close to the palace. The construction was done at the highest standards of the time, thus the place became internationally well-known in a short time and gained great prestige. The president of the Via Habsburg, Mag. Reinhold Sahl, and the managing director of the Palace, dr. Tamás Ujvári, both emphasized in their speeches the importance of cooperation and regular consultations and the significance of friendship which is also part of the history of the Palace.   „States, cities, region have their particular characteristics. These characteristics, however, do not separate us from each other. The mission of the Cultural Route is to highlight our similarities. The common historical traits connect us and make us friends.” (Hofrat Mag. Sahl, president of the Via Habsburg) Dr. György Gémesi, the mayor of the town, also spoke about the advantages of being part of this project: „Joining a European environment, either through twin towns such as Bad Ischl, Laxenburg, Aichach, Brandýs nad Labem-Stará Boleslav or through the Via Habsburg Cultural Route and its network, means that the connections of the town are getting stronger in Central-Europe. These connections are rooted in history, which should work in 2023 and they do work excellently.”   You can read the Via Habsburg’s newsletter HERE
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News release: Highlights of the Schönbrunn Collection

News release: Highlights of the Schönbrunn Collection

Elisabeth Wittelsbach was undoubtedly one of the most interesting European historical figures of the 19th century, whose worldwide popularity has been growing steadily since. Therefore, the upcoming exhibition at the Royal Palace of Gödöllő is dedicated to Queen Elisabeth, displaying unique personal belongings of the Queen and her immediate family members. On 18 July in Vienna, dr Tamás Ujváry, managing director of the Royal Palace of Gödöllő and Mag. Klaus Panholzer, managing director of Schönbrunn Group signed the contract that officially gave the green light to the Sisi on Tour exhibition. For the very first time, a selection of the most fascinating and Sisi-related items of the incredible collection of Schönbrunn will be shown outside of Vienna, and the first stop is Gödöllő. The exhibition, which will open on 8 September, is the result of years of outstanding collaborative work of the two Palaces. The two most important Sisi cult places – both members of the European Royal Residences Association – can respectfully commemorate the 125th anniversary of Queen Elisabeth’s death with a joint seasonal exhibition. What makes this exhibition exceptional is that the Royal Palace of Gödöllő has never housed an exhibition owned and arranged by a foreign museum. Furthermore, the art objects arriving at the tourist centre are not only special but hold an immense value. Thanks to the cooperation of the cult places, visitors can learn about the personality and myths of the Queen as never before. After the successful opening of the Sisi Museum at the Hofburg in Vienna in 2004, the collection strategy of the Schloss Schönbrunn Kultur- und Betriebsges.m.b.H. (Schönbrunn Group for short) shifted the focus onto the expansion of the “Empress Elisabeth” collection. Today, the ever-growing assemblage consists of more than 1000 pieces, thus making it the biggest “Sisi-collection” in the world. The Viennese experts have arranged a travelling exhibition showcasing the most intriguing pieces that will debut at the Royal Palace of Gödöllő. The exhibition will display more than 200 art pieces of this collection. The exhibition will show, for instance, the little silk gown and bonnet that Elisabeth wore at her christening. This cream-coloured, frilly dress is decorated with lace and floral embroidery. Visitors can also view a small, gilded container that is decorated with the imperial motto and the Holy Crown of Hungary. The item also contains soil from the ‘coronation hill’ of 8 June 1867. A small locket in which the photographs of Gisela and Rudolf lay was also made of gold. According to the engraving (“Mama 24. Dez. 1885”), the jewellery was given for the Queen’s birthday/Christmas by her children. As Queen Elisabeth was becoming more and more reclusive and tended to withdraw from the public eye, she started to wear lace veil and held a fan or an umbrella to hide her face from the prying eyes of onlookers and photographers. Hence, a special accessory, a black, lace-decorated, silk parasol that can be folded down to a length of 25 cm, will be shown as well. A painting by Lipót Horovitz will be on display in the last room of the exhibition. After the death of the Queen, he was commission by Franz Joseph to paint the portrait. The Queen is standing in front of a neutral background, she is wearing a black day dress, holding a fan in the painting. Besides the portraits of the members of the imperial house, documents (e.g.: the beauty regimens of the Queen), porcelain (e.g.: a porcelain set from Achilleion Palace, Corfu), textiles (e.g.: the gymnastic trousers of the Queen, the hunting vest of Crown Prince Rudolf), engravings and etchings can also be seen. The seasonal exhibition will be open between 8 September 2023 and 28 January 2024. The curator is Michael Wohlfart, Queen Elisabeth expert of the Sisi Museum, Vienna.
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Monday-Sunday 10:00-18:00   Ticket office closes at 17:00



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