Gödöllö Palace, the “Hungarian Versailles,” is Sisi’s favorite palace. The palace that is located east of Budapest and is the country’s largest baroque palace is Hungary’s gift to Franz Joseph and Elisabeth on the occasion of their coronation. It is also in this palace in which Elisabeth finds a new home, both physically and emotionally. She spends much of her time here and relishes the casual and informal atmosphere.
In 1877, Marie Louise Elisabeth von Wallersee, the empress’ favorite niece who is later banished from court, marries Count Larisch in the palace chapel in the presence of the imperial couple. The palace, palace grounds and riding hall still reflect this period of time. The baroque theater of the Gödöllö palace complex is unique in Europe due to the original furnishings that have been maintained to the present. The renovation of the royal estate was recognized with an international award. In the palace, one can see a great stateroom along with the royal chambers that include the Queen Elisabeth memorial exhibition.
One particular painting in the permanent exhibition is a reminder of a hunt around the palace on which Lord Spencer, an ancestor of Lady Diana, took part. The idyllic palace garden, in which an orangery, a palm house and other delights can be discovered, surrounds the entire palace. The park is divided into upper and lower sections. Dateless tree populations, for example ginkgoes and sequoias, are featured in the upper park along with a teahouse from 1760.
In the adjoining Elisabeth Park, which today is a natural reserve, the residents of Gödöllö have erected a monument to Elisabeth – long before she was given the same honor in Vienna. A monumental plaque in the park designates Elisabeth’s favorite place, a pheasant house with an old grove.
The riding park founded by the Lázár brothers is in Domonyvölgy, five kilometers from Gödöllö Palace and 35 km from Budapest. Set in a picturesque hilly landscape of nine hectares, the park offers spectacular horse shows reminding one of the Hungarian riding traditions.