A historic spa town

 

 

Holidays and workdays, masters and servants, lights and shadows...

Previous centuries have been dominated by these contrasts as we are today. And yet, even if we walked through every castle in Hungary or even Europe, we would still not learn anything about the world behind its curtains and about the real people, without which and whom the opulence and splendor would have ceased immediately,
Until now!
THE EXHIBITION HAS FINALLY OPENED ITS GATES!
To avail of a 44% discount on the entry fee, get a GYULA VISIT CARD - you can find out all about it at the visitor's information center!

 

EXHIBITION

 

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Unlike other exhibitions, Castle Almásy, using unique interactive tools, gives its visitors the opportunity to learn not only about the way of life of aristocrats who lived in these buildings, but also about the lives of people who lived in the castle and its environs. With this superb exhibition we enable the visitor to "see" the previously "unseeable", the invisible engine that worked daily,  a unique perspective indeed. And even more than that, visitors are invited to carry out the different tasks and chores of those times... fascinating for anyone  of any age who has even a small interest in history and the evolution of our society!

 

The visitor's information center of Almásy Castle reaches out in its own language towards both children and adults, the young and the elderly, because the topics as well as the instruments serve  people of all ages, providing authentic experiences and an interesting, unforgettable program.


Passing through rooms and spacious halls, crossing these opulent and fascinating enclosures so representative of its era, surely questions will arise: how did the people live in those days in this castle? Who was warming the stoves and fireplaces, how many liters of water were consumed in one day, who washed the linen underwear of the countess? But above all we are curious to find out how the servants lived - because even when their work remained unseen they succeeded in making the everyday life of the nobility easy and comfortable. The Almásy Castle and the visitor's information center can offer you answers to these and more questions.  The castle with its almost 30 rooms required well-coordinated maintenance, organisation and hard work. This was accomplished by inside and the outside servants, an administration that was incredibly complex and not so different from that of a modern hotel.

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Immediately upon entry you will step back in time to be greeted by an entourage whose respectfully interested glances will courteously follow your every step: that of the butler, the head-housekeeper, the cook and that of a maid who sweeps a curtsy.

 

 

 

 

 

It is interesting to note that inside the castle, servants served their noble family throughout their lifetime. This provided them with shelter, the opportunity to advance hierarchically, pension and the opportunity to gain literacy skills. The latter was not very common among ordinary people. Among servants there was a strict hierarchy, each one of them with her/his own tasks and chores, distinct responsibilities and different degrees of authority. With the help of the interactive installations our visitors get a very realistic view of that 'invisible' hierarchical system, can learn in detail the chores assigned to each servant and her/his lifestyle and even more than that, we are able to introduce you, in a virtual way of course, to some servants and members of the staff from that time.

 

You can become acquainted with the grueling craft and art of a shoe-shiner, a servant solely responsible for shining shoes of the master. You'll be able to pick up the iron that had to be carried on a daily basis by maids once they got the exact instructions regarding the clothes that needed washing. And  you can try to imagine what would be like if we were to take their place in a world without chemical solutions. You can take a look at a reconstituted tiny room of a butler that can be compared immediately to the housekeepers' cozy bedroom illustrated by a model.

The housekeeper was the senior servant of every noble house and had the most prestigious role of all, which explains the presence of many keys in her room. This is presented as a centerpiece in a form of a 500 key bundle hanging on the wall, keys that opened almost any door in the castle. In the absence of modern tools for pest control for example the mosquitoes were exiled "manually", which means that the maids had to go from room to room in order to chase the blood sucking insects. It was a different life...

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The rooms, not only their objects, but also through their lighting, can help us develop a sense of how life was in the castle at the time. We can see how many candles were needed in the evening to illuminate the vast halls of the castle and how much power they used compared to today's needs. Specially set up light cubes draw attention to these interesting details.
The main place of reference for a servant was the cuisine (kitchen), and there is no doubt that during more than 200 years there have been  considerable improvements made in order to serve all the inhabitants of the castle.
Once your appetite has been stirred, you can download recipes you find interesting and you can also compare the different technologies of the cuisine of the 18th and 19th century. You can find out more about contemporary food storage techniques without the modern techniques we use today to preserve our food.
This exhibition of based on the dualism of an ancient theme: master and servant. It is a real show presenting thearistocratic lifestyle of the inhabitants of the castle vs' the poor life of its servants in an artistic and representative manner. Introspection allows us to see aspects from both the chamber maid's life, the personal maid of the lady of the castle, and also we gain a glimpse into the salon dedicated to women. We get to see the large dining hall where festivities were organized, an impressively set dining room in the true sense of the word.

As in modern times, perfumes were been used by women and queens of the time. But we ask ourselves: do these fragrances differ from the ones we use today? Now you can see for yourself in person and get answers to these questions -  because only here you have the opportunity to sniff five kinds of different fragrances, including our "national perfume" of the time.

The elegant atmosphere of the library greets us with its male fragrance and wooden furnishings,  and because it served both as a workroom and library, the master of the house used to conduct his estate businesses here, writing his letters and conducting meetings.



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The accumulation of knowledge is huge and provides quite a powerful experience thanks to an interactive educational workshop which  this museum offers. By using an integrated visitors' program, a film projector and a range of materials and adjacent installations which are unique in this part of Hungary the visitors' user experience is unique to this area.  A very rare instrument that helps us to relive the renaissance era is the so-called "holographic projector", a museum instrument that can be found only in Vienna at closest.
Looking through the window of the maquette of castle a few scenes from the life of the castle passes our eyes:

 

 

 

 

 

Inside the former count's residence, on 19th of March 2016, the visitors' information center and the Almásy Castle of Gyula opened its doors to visitors. The exhibition is so diverse that it's worth returning several times, each time revealing new details about this unique world.

 


 

HISTORY OF THE CASTLE

 

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One of the curiosities of this so unusual exhibition, and one which distinguishes it from other presentations, is the atypical yet thematically fitting approach of the itinerary throughout the castle.  The entrance to the castle area is made not through the old 'full-of-pomp' reception area of the aristocrats but rather from side of the house that was used by servants to enter the building. The reason for this is that the Castle "grew" and expanded with its various owners over three generations.

When, in January 1695 Gyula was released after 129 years of Turkish rule, the area was virtually deserted. A sustained repatriation became possible only after the liberation battle of the Kuruc. So we believe that the actual date of commencement of the history of Turkish occupation is dated after 1714.

In 1722, on a map reproduced by military engineer Leopold Franz Rosenfeld, is a representation Castle County and city of Gyula. In the so called 'garden' of the castle, very close to where today Almásy Castle lays, appears a rectangular building with a high roof marked with a "G " and under it the engineer specified clearly in writing that it was a family house recently built.

The first building of the castle today, the central part of the main wing (built on a raised foundation due to ground water), was built around 1740 by János György Harruckern. After his death in 1742, his son Ferenc continued the work extending and building the construction. During this time the central chatelaine gardens were also created.

During the second period of construction of the castle,  the lengths of the side wings of the ground floor were extended and another floor was added to the castle increasing its height by three axes. After his death in 1775 Ferenc Harruckern, landowner Baron Harruckern, remained heirless on paternal side, so the residence henceforth remained virtually uninhabited.

In the great fire of January 1795 the middle part of the castle was completely destroyed. The Castle passed then into the possession of the Wenckheim family.  After another fire in 1801 their name was associated with restoration of the castle, further developing it into the form in which we find it today. Plans on which the castle was rebuilt are the creation of a Viennese architect named Antal Cziegler, a very much recognized and appreciated architect at that time. Thanks to him, the facades of the castle were improved by raising them, which resulted in a more elongated and elegant building. Next followed the addition and completion of baroque classical decorative elements.

In 1888 the Gyula Castle became the property of the Almásy- Wenckheim couple – who resided at that time within its walls. The eldest son of the couple, the graph Dénes Almásy was married in 1888 to the daughter of Count Nagykárolyi, Countess Gabriella Karolyi. Grooms moved into their new residence in the same year despite it not being inhabited for a decade, but it was thoroughly renovated before being inhabited by the young couple. Inside the building significant changes were made. The two rows of the castle were changed and long hallways with garden views were created throughout the whole building. The original kitchen was decommissioned in the Baroque main building and in its place a room was set up for servants. The kitchen was moved to the annex.

During the First World War, the Almásy family moved into another region to Castle Kékkő (blue stone). During the times of the Republic and then during the Romanian occupation no considerable property damage was registered. During the agrarian reform of 1921 the estate and its arable fields in the vicinity of the castle were parceled into 328 lots for houses.

In 1940 Almásy family heirs and successors offered the Castle for sale to the National Monuments Commission and also to the Town of Gyula, but unfortunately neither party took advantage of this offer. Dark days came onto the Castle which was sacked at the end of the Second World War; its furniture was carried out, spread and lost. In November 1944 the buildings of the county hospital discharged all its patients with mental illnesses and they were placed temporarily inside the castle. After nationalization of the building, a workhouse functioned here initially, and then a vocational school and even college found their homes within these walls.

Since 1959,  the park of the castle has been gradually developed into important spas. The Almásy Castle – and its main façade - was rebuilt in 1983. Since the 1990s the building was evacuated gradually, and in 2002, after 43 years the neonatology department moved permanently out of the building. Partial renovation of the ground floor annex building was completed in 2004.

Gyula City Council took over the management of the Castle from the National Heritage Institute of State of Hungary officially and permanently in 2011. In 2012 the EU successfully submitted a renovation plan on the grounds of it being a historical preservation site and major tourist attraction. The full refurbishment of the castle was approved the very next year. During 2014 and 2015, the plans were carried out and the reconstruction and renovation of the building based on research and finely-tuned historic preservation principles were completed.

The maquette of the Castle representing the architectural history of the Almásy Castle and with its special lighting system,  precisely traces the status of the building in architectural terms for each period of its existence.

 

 

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THE CASTLE GARDEN


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Among the Bekes county parks of the province, The Harruckern-Wenckheim Almásy Castle Garden may be deemed to be the most important, because it is the only architectural garden whose existence has survived several historical eras.

Evidence has been sourced that this garden contained elements of all bygone eras starting from its creation; namely  Baroque gardens and later Baroque landscapes, antique and eclectic (historical) gardens, all these different styles have made their visible mark on its creation.

From the memoirs and paintings made the mansion's curator Antonius Hueber, a Franciscan monk - who served as a priest in the times of Ferenc Harruckern - we can deduce that in the eighteenth century the garden and estate was decorated in a particular way: there was a small wild grove, a pond of turtles, a little haven for birds and ivy formed as netting. In the eighteenth century, when the revolution in the art of historic gardening took place, there were radical changes the concept of gardening on  the great estates. Styles of landscaping were gradually renounced and the appliance of symmetrical patterns and vegetation artificially carved in 'pompous' style, by the freely grown vegetation, allowed to rise to the will of nature replacing symmetrical with wild.

After that the plants and vegetation around the Gyula Castle yard were mixed and blended with the existing ones. Everything was changed and even more modified by diverting the river-bed of a tributary of the White Cris into the Snail Pavilion, so-called because of its distinct spiral shape.  Around 1832 an eyewitness mentions only the presence of an orchard, a glass greenhouse and a little forest with wildlife. By the 1850s The Castle Gardens were described as a "romantic and very orderly garden."
Several different varieties of fruit trees were domesticated in the Garden, and a significant amount of nursery seedlings were sold to the general public. Since the second half of the 19th century, along the lines of the English gardens,  emphasis was also placed on flower beds and on plant cultivation using the glass greenhouse.  The Castle Garden and the park of Gyula did not escape the ravages of two world wars. An aerial photo from 1950 shows clearly how many trees were cut down in this area, the wild woods completely disappearing and meadow orchards and fruit trees are identifiable only partially.

In 1959, on the grounds of the former park of the castle,  the construction of the Castle Baths of Gyula began.  This was followed in 1960 by the building of the Erkel Hotel. Residential areas were formed from the former small wildlife forest and orchard and gradually,  family houses were built.

An area that was unimaginably picturesque and that once occupied a vast expanse of the park and its surrounding orchards, was destroyed almost completely. Rebuilding The Castle Garden in its exact original form was not possible because of the built areas. The project of renovation and landscaping, which included  The Garden Castle, made a compromise by choosing to recreate a more atmospheric garden.Its new configuration and integration into the community and pre-existing architecture creates a place where visitors and locals alike have the opportunity of relaxation and tranquility. Visitors to this beautiful ornamental garden can enjoy the historic surroundings and the aesthetic beauty of the castle - both day and night - due to festive lighting all year round.

 

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DID YOU KNOW..?

 

The Almásy Castle of Gyula throughout its existence has witnessed several interesting or important events in the history of our city.

 

270 years ago, precisely on June 13, 1746 we believe that right here the premier of the first play in our country within the walls of the castle, a play written by the same Franciscan priest named Antonius Huber took place! He wrote a comedy entitled "Pastoral Wedding" which was presented on the occasion of Harruckern Count Ferenc daughter's celebration. It is likely that the inhabitants of the castle presented further theater plays regularly for their own pleasure.



 

The 13 martyrs of Arad officially submitted their weapons here. The surrender of the fellows' swords, according to the witnesses of that time, took place on the ground floor rooms of the castle. They say the swords were thrown out the window by army officers. In memory of those heroes and their important, significant sacrifice, there is a room on the ground floor with a tribute exhibition of some swords in their original state along with reproductions.

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Almásy Castle had three official royal visits, all three in the nineteenth century. The eldest daughter of Francis I, Maria Ludovika, the future wife of Napoleon arrived in 1807, unexpectedly.

Franz Joseph I. arrived here in 1876 on his way from Sibiu to Gyula, during a military exercise. It happened, that walking in the vicinity of the castle, he asked his Minister of Defense named Szende Béla in German, if he knew  anything about the location. His minister,  overwhelmed by memories and excitement could respond only in Hungarian to the insistent and repetitive questions of his master, for in the year 1849 he was forced to lay down arms exactly in this place.
Between the two visits there was one in 1857, when Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife Elisabeth (Sisi) visited the castle of Gyula.



 


 

 

 

 

VISITOR INFORMATION

 

Visitor Information Centre of Almásy Castle is open:

 

From August 21, 2018:

Monday: Closed
Tuesday: 10:00–18:00
Wednesday: 10:00–18:00
Thursday: 10:00–18:00
Friday: 10:00–18:00
Saturday: 10:00–18:00
Sunday: 10:00–18:00


The last issue of ticketing is one hour before the closing date.
Guided tours: Monday-Sunday 10.30, 11.30, 14.30


Café Kastély Kávézó, from Tuesday to Sunday between 10.00 - 22.00

Ticket prices:
The exhibition "Workdays and holidays in a lowland castle" - permanent exhibition

Ticket: 2 200 HUF
Group tickets (for groups larger than 10 people): 2 000 HUF / person
Discounted ticket: 1 100 HUF
Discounted group tickets (for groups larger than 10 people): 1 000 HUF / person


Watchtower

Ticket: 400 HUF
Discounted ticket: 200 HUF

The exhibition is season dependent:

Ticket: 800 HUF
Discounted ticket: 400 HUF

4 in 1
"Workdays and holidays in a lowland castle" - permanent exhibition Watchtower + Exhibition (dependent on the season) + Medieval Castle of Gyula


Ticket: 3 600 HUF
Group tickets (for groups larger than 10 people): 3 400 HUF / person
Discounted ticket: 1 800 HUF
Discounted group tickets (for groups larger than 10 people): 1 700 HUF / person

Discounted tickets for pupils and students (cycle day) aged 6-26 years and seniors aged 62-70 years.

Other discounts:
* 50% for parents with 2 or more children
* 50% for permanent or temporary residents Gyula
* Disabled and children under 6 years free of charge

 

 

Visit Gyula Card package
Visit Gyula Card package is only available to guests and visitors who are Visit Gyula Card holders! Cardholders can benefit from a reduction of 44% of the city's cultural subscription/package price!

 

The cultural subscription/package includes:

2 visits to the permanent exhibition "Workdays and holidays in a lowland castle" + Watchtower + Medieval Castle of Gyula + Erkel Ferenc Memorial House + Ladics House + Kohan Gallery


Visit Gyula card package price:
Adult Package: 4 800 HUF
Discounted package: 2 400 HUF

GYULA card NOT VISIT price packages are:
Package Adults: 2x2 200 HUF + 400 HUF + 1 600 HUF + 1 000 HUF + 600 HUF + 600 HUF  = 8 600 HUF

Discounted package: 2 x 1.100 HUF + 200 HUF + 800 HUF + 500 HUF + 300 HUF + 300 HUF = 4 300 HUF

By purchasing packages for Visit Gyula card you can save when purchasing package 3 800 HUF for adults and 1 900 HUF discounted package.

We warmly recommend spending at least 3-4 days in our city in order to benefit from the tickets and subscriptions offered to visit the most important sights of Gyula!

The cultural subscription of Gyula city, which is offered only to Visit Gyula Card holders, can be purchased at the medieval castle of the city and at the visitors' information center of the Almásy Castle. The subscription/package is valid for one week.

For more information about other partner locations and additional discounts visit here: visitgyula.com/visitgyulacard
The Almásy Castle is equipped with specially designed accesses for disabled, making the exhibition accessible for people in wheelchairs. For parents with small children we provide special harnesses for babies.

 


 

 

MORE THAN A MUSEUM

 

The Castle Coffee Shop Kastély Kávézó can be accessed independently from the park and The Castle Gardens without an entry ticket - just like any other pub or restaurant in the area. You can feel like a real noble and aristocratic personage in this enchanting atmosphere, tasting different varieties of coffee and cakes.

In the museum shop you can choose from various gifts and souvenirs to remind you of your wonderful experiences here. Besides the usual souvenirs you can choose and buy objects and craft works made exclusively by hand here in our Bekes County.


You are welcome to our Visitors' Information Centre of Almásy Castle and share with us an extraordinary experience and witness an unforgettable journey through time!