01.07.2013 - 01.07.2013
Today we visited the Palace of Gödöllö, the largest baroque palace in Hungary. It is over 250 years old, and its most famous resident was Elisabeth, Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary. She was and still is venerated today. She was married to Franz Joseph I, whose 68-year long reign is the third longest in Europe. Known for her beauty, she had elaborate routines that she went through to maintain it, and spent two or three hours a day having her floor-length hair cared for and styled. She used this time to study languages, and became fluent in English and French. After the age of 32, she would not allow any more portraits or photos of herself to be captured, in order to keep up the idea of her perpetual beauty. She was murdered by an Italian anarchist at the age of 60. Her story is very interesting, and I recommend reading more about her here.
The rooms were grand and impressive, filled with various antiques of the age. There was a gorgeous blue and silver gown worn by many of the castle's female residents, numerous swords, guns, and battle axes, and even what was said to be a piece of the holy cross, complete with certification. Many portraits lined the walls, mostly of Elisabeth and Franz Joseph. Unlike Versailles, where red and gold are the predominant colours, these rooms were cooler shades of blue and purple, which I preferred. The silk wallpaper and velvet drapery were very tempting to touch. Luckily, their appeal had been noticed by the curators, and some samples of the cloth were given in order to pacify people like my mom, who feel the compulsion to act on such temptations.
The final room was a small exhibit documenting the renovation and restoration of the palace, and we found out that nearly all the decor was much newer than we had thought. Everything looked very authentic, but I thought that they had made the right choice putting that information at the end of the tour, as it might've taken away from the effect.
We took a short walk around the grounds, which were pretty and well kept, and had a picnic lunch in a park near the castle. We then drove to Szentendre, a little tourist trap of a town comprised almost solely of souvenir shops. The draw of the town was the microminiature museum, a collection of miniscule works of art by Ukrainian artist Mykola Syadristy. All of the pieces needed to be looked at through a microscope in order to appreciate their intricacy. Among the tiny masterpieces was a twelve page book of poems by Taras Shevchenko, another Ukrainian, which had pages made of petals that were bound together with spider silk. There was also a delightful piece composed of a pyramid, a palm tree, and a procession of camels all set in the eye of a needle. This was my dad's favourite, partially because of the exquisiteness and precision and partially because of the play on the Bible verse. Another impressive set of statuettes was a pitcher and two wine glasses made of solid gold balanced on a sugar granule. Each could hold an infinitesimal amount of liquid.
The gallery was mind bending and beautiful. I know I've said this before, but I'm still amazed that even after eight months on the road, we're continuing to see things unlike anything we've seen before. Just like the microscopic works of art, the amount of substance there is in this world in nearly impossible to wrap your head around.
Unfortunately, the awe that these places inspired was deemed impossible for any mere tourist's camera to handle, and we were not permitted to take pictures. You'll just have to go see them for yourselves. In the meantime, I hope that you will enjoy this illustration of my impressions.