Grassalkovich Palace – Reconstruction

Location: Gödöllő, Szabadság tér 5.

Design period of reconstruction in several phases: 1982–2010

Date of completion: 2010

Senior architects: dr. MÁTÉ Zsolt, DOBOZI Miklós, PÁLYI Gábor

Interior designers: PLACHTOVICS Vilmos, SCHINAGL Gábor


The Royal Palace in Gödöllő is one of the most important national monuments in Hungary in terms of history and art, it is a tourist destination attracting many visitors. The palace is an archetype of Central and Eastern European Baroque architecture and at the same time it is the only royal residence in Hungary reconstructed in its original character. The palace is also a historic memorial site, in addition to its significance in art history. The construction of the palace began in 1733 and it became a royal palace in 1867, after the builder’s – Antal Grassalkovich’s – family died out and the palace was neglected for a few decades. From time to time in the following fifty years, Emperor Franz Josef ruled his empire of fifty million subjects from here. The palace became really attractive due to the pres­ence of the beloved Queen Elisabeth. Later on, the palace served as the governor’s residence. It was badly misused after 1945, therefore it began to decay quickly.

Survey and research work began in 1982 at VÁTI (Urban Design Institute) and the conservation works and reconstruction program were outlined from 1985. The conditions of the palace were stabilized by successful interventions. The recon­struction of the national monument began in the early 1990s and most of the technical tasks were taken over by KÖZTI as general designer. VÁTI continued to work on architectural and cultural heritage issues and some minor technical details. Zsolt Máté dr remained the architect of the historical reconstruction, Miklós Dobozi was the technical manager and coordinator as project architect. After his death, architect Gábor Pályi took over this job. The royal apartments were opened in 1996 as the first phase of the reconstruction. The public area was extended by new wings in the following years. The Lipót wing with its church oratory was reconstructed in Baroque style and the Elisabeth wing in a more bourgeois style. One of the great attractions of the stately home, which had organised the cultural life of the neighbourhood, was the baroque theatre with wings. Later, in the royal period, the outdated theatre was converted to a three-storey building with 17 rooms by inter­mediate floor slabs and a corridor. It was a completely new task to research the original layout and to reconstruct the theatre. The lost spatial structure and decoration of the theatre had to be found and reconstructed, which was quite a structural feat. In order to avoid spoiling the image of the monu­ment, the auxiliary service rooms have been built underground, covered by the garden lawn. The Baroque Theatre was opened in late 2003 with a gala performance.

The palace hosted an active cultural life again, but a 1800 square metre ruined area remained in the main building, hidden by the elevations as Potemkin walls. In 2009–2010, the reconstruction of these parts of the buildings – the Gizella and Rudolf wings, connecting the central wing with the riding hall, as well as Miklós Horthy’s wartime bunker and Queen Elisabeth’s wooden veranda – were funded by the European Union. These areas are used as exhibition and multipurpose rooms. The palace was one of the venues of the Hungarian Presidency of the European Union in 2011. The approximately five hundred square metre floor-space of the Riding Hall provided a large assembly hall and the auxiliary functional areas, mechanical and security systems with extraordinary spatial requirements were located at the basement, constructed later under the Rid­ing Hall. The cloak-room and the foyer were located at the Baroque Stable. The high quality cast-iron stable equipment of the royal period was preserved and used as cloak-room boxes. The successful reconstruction and utilization of the palace was awarded the Prix d’Excellence of the International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI) in 2004, the first prize of the Hungarian Real Estate Association in 2013 and an international first prize in 2014.