A third of a million people a year visit the former Royal Palace at Gödöllő. One of Hungary's finest mansions, and less than an hour's drive from the capital, it was built in the eighteenth century for one Antal Grassalkovich, a legal official who in a most remarkable career rose to be one of the most influential aristocrats and keeper of the Hungarian treasury.
Grassalkovich amassed a huge family fortune and had several other mansions built, but it is the elegant creation at Gödöllő, one of the very finest of the baroque style, that went on to be used as the inspiration for others around Hungary.
Empress Maria Theresa was a frequent guest, but it was later, during the reign of Franz Joseph, that it became the favoured Hungarian residence for the Austro-Hungarian Royal family. The Emperor's wife, the hugely admired Queen Elizabeth, affectionately known as Sisi, especially loved Gödöllő.
These days the main wing of the Palace once again greets visitors with suitable grandeur, and altogether twenty-six rooms have been restored and opened to the public, including the royal apartments, the grand hall and Franz Joseph's study. Concerts and cultural festivals are regularly held in the Palace and in its grand courtyard. The baroque theatre, a rarity in Europe, has also been restored, and after 200 years, has once again become a working theatre.