Sights of Visegrad
The Royal Palace
The history of the Palace stretches back to the times when Charles Robert moved the royal court to Visegrád in 1323, and started constructions in town. The first records of the building are fairly bad: according to the Illustrated Chronicle, Felicián Zách attacked the royal family here. During the reign of Charles Robert only a few residential biuldings were built, and an area was constructed to host knight tournaments, which was occasionally used by the King as well.
During the Anjou era this area was a part of town with several buildings, which was transformed into a palace during the reign of Sigismund. The plan of the Palace’s was square-shaped and it was surrounded by walls. The old chapel was left outside the walls, so the King donated it, completed with cloister buildings to the Observant Order.
The Gate Tower served as the main entrance, and it faced the new single-naved palace chapel. As the lay-out was modified, and so several courtyards and gardens were created. The Reception Courtyard and the Ornamental Courtyard of the north-eastern palace were the most important.
The centre of the Palace was located in the north-eastern part of the complex. The royal aparments were located in a three-storey square-shaped building. The staff lived on the ground floor, and the upper two floors served as the King and Queen’s summer and winter residence. Next to the Palace building Sigismund a garden was laid out - its size was almost the same as that of the Palace - with a fountain in the centre supplied by a water conduit.
The traces of modifications and ornamental changes of Sigismund can also be seen in the halls of the Palace.
Later on the Palace was neglected, and , this changed only after the marriage of King Matthias and Beatrix de Aragon in 1476. In the Palace reconstructed in late Gothic style the Renessaince building and decorative elements appeared for the first time after Italy . Only a few new buildings were erected, rather the old ones were reconstructed according to the new requirements. The statues and fountains were made in the workshop of the sculptor Giovanni Dalmata.The Hercules Fountain, which is the most famous ornament of the Palace, was also made by Dalmata. The Well are decorated with the coats of arms of Matthias, and the young Hercules may be a reference to the King’s illegitimate son, John of Corvin.
Around the Fountain the Ornamental Courtyard from the Sigismund era was reconstructed, and a Renaissance loggia was built on the first floor. In the garden new terraces were created.
The chapel also shows the work of the sculptors working in the Italian Renaissance style. The new tabernacle of the chapel was made of gilded marble from Carrara, and the sculptors decorated the church with several carvings. One of these carvings, the red marble relief called the ’Madonna of Visegrád’ can be seen in Visegrád.
The Palace matched up with the contemporary Italian Renaissance courtyards, that is why Bartolomeo de Maraschi Papal Legate described it as a Paradise on Earth in his letters. Later Miklós Oláh mentions the building in his work called ’Hungária’ in the middle of 16th century. The Palace was completely neglected during the Turkish times, and by the 18th century it was nearly buried. By the 20th Century it was forgotten, and many doubted that it ever existed in the form described by Oláh.
The location of the Palace was found by János Schulek and he started his excavations at the end of 1934. As all the kings who erected buildings in Visegrád, contributed to the construction of the Palace, the reconstruction of the Palace has been carried out by the most famous archaeologists and historians e.g. János Schulek, Miklós Héjj and Mátyás Szőke. The reconstruction activities were forced to stop for decades.
The forthcoming Millennium boosted the work,and by 2000 the reconstruction of the North-Eastern Palace and the Hercules Fountain were completed. Inside the Palace the exhibition rooms and the stone collection displays several records from the various ages.