Grassalkovich Mansion (Grassalkovich Kastély)
The Austro-Hungarian Monarchy's ruling couple Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife Queen Elizabeth, affectionately known by the Hungarians as Sissi, frequently stayed in the Grassalkovich Mansion built in "Hungarian- Grassalkovich Mansion Baroque" style in the 18th century.
One of the most respectable noblemen of the eighteenth century, Count Antal Grassalkovich I. (l694-1771) began the construction works of the Gödöllő Mansion in 1733.
The first phase of the construction lasted till 1749; the first U-shaped wing which embraces the inner courtyard and is based on the project of András Mayerhoffer was completed by that time. Queen Maria Theresa probably saw the castle in this stage when, as a reward for the political and military help given by him during the war of succession, she visited Grassalkovich at Gödöllő in 1751.
After that, the Count went on with the building of the mansion. Simultaneously with the rebuilding of the former sections, the construction of the wings perpendicular to the U-shaped one were begun.
Further construction periods followed during the lifetime of the son, Antal Grassalkovich. II. (1734-1794) and his grandson, Antal Grassalkovich III. (1771- 1841). As a result of these, the mansion was enlarged to a double U-shaped one. The unique architecture served as a model for other Hungarian mansions of the Baroque period.
With the death of Antal Grassalkovich III, the family became extinct in 1841. The property, inherited of the female line, was bought by Baron György Sina in 1850, and sold to a Belgian bank in 1864.
The second golden era of the construction began in 1867. Bought by the Hungarian state, and reconstructed, the mansion – as a coronation gift – went into the use of Emperor Francis Joseph I. and Queen Elizabeth as their resort place. The royal family spent the springs and autumns here, at Gödöllő.
After the death of Queen Elizabeth (1898), the monarch visited the place less frequently, his last visit was in 1911.
The sojoum of Charles IV., who followed Francis Joseph I. on the throne, was ended by the collapse of the monarchy on 26 October, 1918.
From 1920 on, there came a period, similar to that of the royal era, when the mansion served as a summer resort for Govenor Miklós Horthy, ended by the outbreak of the Second World War. Although the building itself was left undamaged, the German and Russian troops invading in 1944 have carried away or destroyed most of the furnishings.
From 1950 on, Soviet troops were stationed in the outbuildings, while the main building became a home for the aged. These abuses gradually led to the deterioration of the building complex.
Conservation began in 1985, and some years later the building was emptied as a precondition of reconstruction. The renewal and development of the mansion, still in state property, is coordinated by the Gödöllő Royal Mansion Company.
As a final act of the first phase of the reconstruction works, in August 1996, in the main wing the first constant display of the Royal Museum was opened. The ornamental hall and the royal appartments, arranged in a style of the age, are telling of the country under the Austro-Hungarian monarchy and of the personalities of Emperor Francis Joseph I. and Queen Elizabeth alike.
As there is little that has remained from the fumishings at Gödöllő, the suites also display objects from ecclesiastical and public collections and other personal belongings of the royal couple.