To prove that Hungary more is than just Budapest is the main intend of my blog. In this case, there is no need to travel far from the capital to experience a totally different perspective of the country, as just half an hour away you can pay a royal visit to the elegant residence of (among others) the beloved Princess Sisi. The baroque palace, that was established in the town Gödöllő, dates back to the 18th century, and played a significant role in the aristocratic history of Hungary. This is the place to feel like a king or queen for one day, and understand more about the imperial Hungary in the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Place yourself in the shoes of Queen Maria Theresia, Lord Grassalkovich, or last but not least; Princess Sisi, and walk the halls that they have stridden countless times. Or feel like the knight in shining armor, choose your weapon in the armory and gallop away on a white horse through the palace’s enchanting garden. Discover the countless possibilities in the history of the Gödöllő Palace!
When the Palace of Gödöllő was established, Hungary was part of the Habsburg Monarchy. Lord Grassalkovich, proceeding from a powerful aristocratic family, was the counselor of Queen Maria Theresia and the benefactor of the dignified palace, which was built in 1730. Queen Maria Theresia of Habsburg, favored Queen of Hungary, was frequently to be found on the estate as well. In the 19th century, Hungary fought to break free from the Habsburgs, which eventually led to a more balanced relationship with Austria, resulting in a Dual Monarchy called the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in which Austria and Hungary coexisted as equal partners. After the coronation of King Franz Joseph, who was Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary, Croatia, and Bohemia, and monarch of other states of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, he received the Gödöllő Palace as a gift. His wife, perhaps an even more legendary figure, Empress Elisabeth of Austria, loved the estate and regularly travelled to the palace to stay for longer periods. Elisabeth, also known as Sisi, fled from the etiquettes in Vienna and enjoyed peaceful springs and autumns in Gödöllő’s safe haven, often accompanied by Franz Joseph.
Due to the queenly history of Gödöllő, it is not a surprise that the visit of the palace centers mainly around the story of Sisi, as the estate meant such a big part of her life, however, a walk throughout the royal residence brilliantly tells you the story of the place from beginning to end. The imaginative ways by placing original baroque furniture, beautifully restoring the magnificent gowns and the impressive display of weapons in the armory manages to capture the essence of the palace in an outstanding way. At every corner you will be able to find a guide through the history of the building, offering interesting insights of the life that has played out within the walls.
The tour through the building itself is lengthy, as almost all parts of the enormous palace are open for visitors, and it can take you up to approximately 2 to 2,5 hours to walk around. However, this also makes that the entrance fee of 3200ft per person is absolutely worth it. If you still like to enjoy the royal vibes without paying such an aristocratic price, you might like to know that the garden of the palace is free of charge. Whenever you visit the palace, you mustn’t leave the garden out of the program, as it gives a grandiose view over the palace. Moreover, the garden, which reminds me more of a botanical forest, totally completes the atmosphere of the baroque palace, and brings you back to the golden era of Hungary. To top off the illustrious tour, you can step into one of the horse carriages and stately drive around the estate like a true Franz Joseph or Sisi.
The Palace of Gödöllő is absolutely one of a kind, and for those who are interested in the history of Hungary and love a baroque ambience, I highly recommend you to plan a visit to Gödöllő. The one and only downside to the place is the town center itself, unfortunately it isn’t worth a side tour, however, within half an hour by train or car you are back in Budapest to enjoy a nice lunch there, which makes it the ideal cultural trip to discover more than just the Budapest side of Hungary.