Körmend was first documented in 1238 as "Curmend", seat of kings.
King Béla IV. granted Körmend town privileges with the right to hold markets
After Körmend was
in royal possession, it became the property of various lords.Since 1604, it has
been the central estate of the Batthyány family. The king gave the castle and
the estate of Körmend to Franz II Batthyány in recognition of his service.
From 1716 until 1945, when the family was dispossessed of the castle and the
estate by the communists, Körmend had been the centre of their seigniory.
After the struggle for freedom under the leadership of Prince Rákóczi the
Batthyánys moved the management of their estates to Körmend. Thenceforward it
became a prospering small town. The castle changed to a beautiful baroque
After 1769, the Batthánys over several centuries collected documents and the
majority of their art treasures were brought here.
The castle originally rose on a hill with a broad moat. The road from the town
to the castle led through a double moat and over timber bridges. In the castle's
bailey was a one-storied residential building. Then there was an outer staircase
which led to the timber gallery facing the bailey. The gallery encircled the
whole bailey and led to the loop-holes integrated into the walls. The ground
floor included a grain stock, a dry mill, and a common bakery.
After 1600 and the fall of Kanizsas, a new time began: Körmend became a border
town of military importance. The town's development reached its climax in the
mid-17th century. In 1625, Ferenc Batthyány's son Ádám inherited the town. He
was a well educated land owner, and not only a great manager of his properties
but also a leading military figure of the country. He assigned the excellent
Italian war engineer, and later imperial main architect, Filiberto Lucchese to
the alteration of the castle.
Significant changes came along with the four years of construction work going
on. The main structure of the castle remained, but its look had been changed.
Now there were multi-storied residential buildings on all four sides, the towers
were higher and arcades had been built in place of the timber gallery. The
windows were opened to the courtyard. The massive and medieval character of the
castle remained but the interior was made more comfortable. After the Turkish
had been driven out of the country successfully, the castle of Körmend became
one of the "dispensable castles" and the war council of Vienna ordered
its demolition on the 26.01.1702, but the Batthyánys were able to prevent that.
The town and castle of Körmend suffered during the struggle for freedom under
the leadership of Rákóczi. The army of Antal Eszterházy destroyed the town
and the castle. Therefore, at the beginning of the 18th century the castle
actually did not exist and the town was utterly destroyed.
At the beginning of the 18th century, the coordination of the Batthyány estates
was shifted to Körmend. Lajos Batthyany took over the properties from his
father in 1720. He served variously as imperial and royal chamberlain, privy
councillor, chancellor and the last Hungarian palatine from 1751 to 1765. His
societal importance was revealed even in his constructions. Following his
instructions began the generous conversion works of Körmend castle.
Thenceforward the castle stood in an open park, which, with its dynamic layout
and arrangement, strove for pomp and the castle was meant to imitate baroque
splendor. The designer of the newly arranged building was the Italian Felice de
Allio, who had already been an important representative of Austrian baroque in
the first half of the 18th century. The construction works began with the
dismantling of the gate tower and the filling up of the moat. Then there was
built a new floor on top of the whole building. The arcades in the inner
courtyard were dismantled and replaced by huge corridors with windows. In the
second floor they installed parlours and living rooms. A mansard roof was added
and the façade got blue-white-yellow stripes. Among the adjoining buildings in
front of the main building was the depot where the carriages were stored
standing west and the horse stable with the red marmoreal feeding troughs
standing east. On the first floor of the building which also had a basement was
the Sala Terrena. On the one-room second floor you could find the archive and
the library. The ensemble of buildings built 1730-1745 shows a typical Hungarian
style including, of
course, elements of the Austrian Baroque.
About 1800, a six-column balcony and a gable were added to the facade of the
castle. The gable was adorned with the Batthyány family's coat of arms.
In 1945, in the course of the invasion of the Russian army, the outstanding
picture gallery, the library, the collection of weapons and a lot of art
treasures were destroyed, pillaged and stolen. Even the huge archive wasn't
spared. The remaining documents and art treasures had then been expropriated by
the Communists and have so far not been returned to the family. Nowadays they
can be seen, among other places, in the Hungarian National Museum and the Public
Opening times of the museum:
From April 1 to October 31: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. (every day except Monday)
From November 1 to March 31: 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. - 4 p.m. (every
day except Sunday and Monday)
The museum shows periodic exhibitions in the castle chapel.