Schloss Esterházy, a giant, ochre castle-palace that dominates Esterházyplatz, is by far Eisenstadt’s most compelling attraction. Dating from the 14th century, the Schloss received a baroque makeover and a later one in neoclassical style. Many of the 256 rooms are occupied by the provincial government, but around 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 inhabited it.
A 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 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.