Lonely Planet review for Schloss Esterházy
Schloss Esterházy, a giant, Schönbrunn-yellow castle-palace that dominates Esterházyplatz, is Eisenstadt’s most important attraction. Dating from the 14th century, the Schloss (castle) received one makeover in baroque and a later one in the neoclassical style. Many of the 256 rooms are occupied by the provincial government, but 25 can be viewed on tours.
The regular tour covers about seven rooms, giving you an insight into the history of the palace and the lives of the people who lived in it. The highlight is the frescoed Haydn Hall, where during Haydn’s employment by the Esterházys from 1761 to 1790 the composer conducted an orchestra on a near-nightly basis.
The Haydn Explosive exhibition across the palace courtyard offers an interesting conflux of history and the new: Haydn’s music accompanies you as you walk past exhibitions on the life and work of the great composer, a nifty holograph depicts a string quartet, period furniture is projected onto the ceiling and a minuscule hole in the floor has an odd projection of a bare-breasted woman shouting abuse while burning in hell. To get the most out of the palace and Haydn, do the tour, then the Haydn exhibition.
Shortly after Joseph Haydn died in 1809, his skull was stolen from his grave in Vienna. The headless cadaver was returned to Eisenstadt in 1920, but it wasn’t until 1954 that the skull rejoined it in the Bergkirche.