Festetics Palace in Keszthely, Zala, Hungary, is the third largest of its kind in the country but is the single most visited. This Baroque beauty offers historical exhibits, beautiful grounds, and fun, family friendly special events all year round. Construction on this historical palace and homestead started in 1745 with a man named Kristof Festetics.
Creating the home as it is now known took more than a century to complete. The original foundation was built on top of castle ruins and eventually tripled in size during two periods of growth, the most recent being in the 1880s and run by Viktor Rumpelmayer (who himself lived in Vienna).
This is why this attraction is often called Festetics Castle. The palace remained spectacularly untouched by World War II, unlike so many of the other homes in the vicinity. The palace and its grounds are visited by more than 200,000 every year since the museum opened in the palace in 1974, and it has massively expanded its special events offerings to open air concerts, festivals, and other family friend's events.
The interior of the palace contains the majority of the permanent exhibition pieces that are on display at Festetics. The home is 18 rooms in total and are decorated with 18th and 19th century historical accuracy.
The museum also currently holds the only private library that was available for Hungarian nobleman during the time the palace was used as an active residence. Books located in the library were collected by the Festetics family in their special wing starting in 1799 and now contains more than 80000 books, including many rare collector’s items.
The oldest volume located in the Festetics Palace library is Chronica Hungarorum, written by Janos Thuroczy in 1488. Other than books, the home’s library is also home to a variety of antique furniture, a painting by Gyula Benczur, a statue of Alajos Strobl, labrador vases from Meissen, and other artifacts.
The interior design was created to be specific to what it would have looked in 1880. The ceilings are made out of oak wood from Slovakia, and it is furnished with many fireplaces and wall coverings. There are original family portraits of the Festetics family hanging on the castle walls as well.
The palace and museum also operate a selection of temporary exhibitions, including art shows, pictures, and even an exhibit on Hungarian spices featuring over 3000 different unique specimens.
Surrounding the palace are substantial grounds that are also able to be toured by the public. In fact, a portion of those grounds are considered a nature preserve. There is a stunning French garden with trees that are hundreds of years old, as well as various sculptures and fountains (including a sculpture of one of the original residents of the home - Gyorgy Festetics). Make sure to see the palm house, the lion’s well, and the railway exhibition.
The palace grounds are open to the general public from the beginning of July through the end of August from 9:00am to 6:00pm, in September from 10:00am to 5:00pm, and from October through April from 10:00am to 5:00pm. They also operate a holiday schedule, so make sure to check the website for available days to tour the grounds. Tickets are required.
The palace holds many different special events throughout the course of the year, all of which are maintained on a frequently updated website that the palace staff hosts.
Of the many special events, the favorites are usually ones that relate to or include children’s activities. The palace hosts a wide variety of events meant for younger guests, including story time, plays, and craft projects.
There are also many musical events held at the home, the majority with a focus on music that would have been popular during the time that the palace was actively in use. Previous events have included a piano masterclass, open air theatre, chamber music, and the popular Magical Evenings event where staff dress in period garb and lead guests on special, guided tours with live background music.
In addition, the palace is available for guests to rent out for their special event. Weddings are one of the more popular events at the home, due to its beautiful and historic backdrop. Contact the staff for additional booking information.
There is a moderately sized gift shop located on the museum grounds, which offers visitors a great selection of palace and medieval related souvenirs and memorabilia to take home and remember their trip by. Choose from toys for the younger guests, apparel, keychains, postcards, and jewelry. Many are emblazoned with a picture of the home.
Festetics Castle, Helikon Castle Museum, 8360 Keszthely, Kastely u. First, Phone: +06-83-31-49-14