Festetics Palace is in unexceptionably good condition inside and out so that it is a compulsory program.
There are only a few palaces in Hungary that can be taken seriously and that are in good condition. The situation is not the same here as in France; you throw a peasant who is drudging for the aristocracy and he falls immediately on a baronial palace, you have to work for the experience here. Huge luck that one of the palaces like these, that is otherwise the fourth biggest in our country, can be found right next to the Balaton, in Keszthely.
Short historical review: the Baroque building had been being built for more than one hundred years, it was being rasped and rebuilt by the Festetics family of Croatian origin that had reinforced the Hungarian nobility since the 16th century. If you cannot write their name at the first try, no sweat, it took centuries for also them to decide how to write their name, finally they sorted out the Festetics from the options of Ferstetics, Ferszetics, Firstatics and Festetics. So that let us learn to write, too. They were one of the richest families in the country, their descendants live in Austria at present.
Well, they threw up this magnificent little palace that you cannot miss and we prove it immediately with five strong arguments:
Let’s go through. The palace and its garden can be visited totally free and they are worth a good morning program. The palace is amazing and till you don’t go up to the tower and you don’t look around, it is actually impossible to imagine that how near the Balaton with its wine spritzer, fried dough and parties is. But it is.
The park is well-ordered. True enough that it is not Versailles, but they plant 70 thousand annual flowers every year, the horse chestnut trees, hazel trees, black pines and lilacs are amazing, and they organize theatrical performances under the leafy boughs every summer. In front of the palace there is a fountain, at the back there is a fish-pond and a number of people think they saw turtles in it. I hadn’t have the pleasure of seeing them.
If you want to see the inside of the building you have to pay, and the fun is not cheap: a ticket costs 2300 HUF and for half as much again you can also visit the mentioned city-state-sized Versailles, but of course the monumental monkeyshines of Louis XIV is more expensive with the air-ticket.
For that much we can visit the Coach Exhibition in the garden and it would be a pity to miss it to see, and you can also visit the interior palace that is really great. It is a fact that there are some weaker exhibitions in the 101-roomed building but the life of noblemen was restored so well. So it is very easy to imagine the Hungarian top of the aristocracy’s life in the 18-19th century that none of the schoolbooks can represent that in this manner. There are Baroque adornment, perfectly unharmed parquet, drapery and furnishing everywhere, the top of the tour is undoubtedly the library that is the biggest uninjured aristocratic library in Europe at the same time. I had the luck to be left alone in the chamber for a little time and I could imagine what did feel like to be the owner of a place like this. Well, it must have been good.
If it is possible, choose the Wednesday evening programs in July or August when you can see the palace in candlelight while the compositions of Debussy, Ravel and Brams are being played in the concert hall, the presenters are showing the halls clad in Baroque dresses and you are sipping champagne. There is nothing more entertaining than that.
And if you are going that way visit the Palm House, too, that was showed the public the first time last year, 130 years after its building and it is open this year, well. The iron framework was made by Gustave Eiffel, yes, that Eiffel. The Palm House itself is not so interesting, it at least is not so big, of course there are amazing flowers in it, but its surroundings, the park next to it and the many little glasshouses are worth the 600-forint ticket.
Summarily: if we go to the Lake Balaton, we spend our time rather on the beach but actually we don’t know any reason for missing the palace if the weather is worse or if we are fed up with sunbathing. Mostly on Wednesday evenings in July or August.
Keszthely, Kastély street 1
09.01-05.31: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
06.01-06.30: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
07.01-08.01: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.