The Haydnsaal is the showpiece jewel of Esterházy Palace. Its size and interior design and appointments are a manifestation of the political, economic and cultural significance of the Esterházy princes. Today it is hailed as one of the most beautiful and outstanding concert halls in the world, above all because of its acoustics. Its name goes back to the renowned composer Joseph Haydn, who was in the Esterházy family’s service for almost forty years and composed many of his works in Eisenstadt.
The Haydnsaal was constructed under Paul I Prince Esterházy as part of the baroque phase of building (1663-1672) after plans by the Italian architect Carlo Martino Carlone and covers most of the north wing. It extends over three floors.
At the start of the neoclassical building period in 1803, the garden hall was superimposed in front of the Haydnsaal and the existing window walled up. Court painter Friedrich Rhode adorned the remaining wall recesses with Biedermeier-type floral festoons. Wall openings were created on the broad sides, planned as access to the projected opera and theatre wing and the gallery wing. Built over these were two galleries resting on four wooden columns with palm capitals. Two girandoles were placed at the east wall of the resplendent room.
On the courtyard side of the south wing is the former palace banqueting hall, which is connected by a lift to the kitchen on the ground floor.
The room was remodelled in Empire style in the early nineteenth century. The four windows looking onto the courtyard were installed in recesses decorated with secco painting. The somewhat shallower recesses on the opposite wall were clad with mirrors. Linen wallcovering, partitioned into three gold-framed segments, was decoratively painted in greenish-beige marbling, the ceiling painted to match. The hall was accoutred with two round, Empire-period fireplaces and three gilt chandeliers.
The ceremonial rooms
During the building phase marked by his influence (1803-1809), the French architect Charles Moreau constructed a number of variously sized official and ceremonial rooms in the south wing and decorated them in various styles.
As counterpart to the Haydnsaal in the north wing, he conceived rooms here to be used for the minor, high-society receptions that were part of the busy social life of the Esterházy princes.
Small Chinese Salon
Increasing trade relations with the Far East in the eighteenth century stimulated the vogue for things Chinese also in the Esterházy family, as in nearly all aristocratic houses in Europe. Paul II Anton accordingly commissioned the construction of a small Chinese salon. The coloured wallpapers were based on genuine Chinese woodcuts and further adorned with floral garlands and bird and butterfly motifs. Three repeating motifs represent scenes from the life of Chinese burgher families at the New Year festivities (fireworks, cricket fighting, and arrangement of lotus flowers). The small Chinese Salon has remained practically unaltered since its final appearance was completed in the mid-eighteenth century.
The Mirror Hall
The Mirror Hall is situated opposite the Haydnsaal in the north wing and is the former main reception hall of the palace. The balcony placed in front of it offers a panoramic view of the palace square and the stables, then far across Eisenstadt and out to the Neusiedler See.
The large Chinese Salon
The large Chinese Salon is decorated with precious hand-painted Chinese wallpapers from the mid-eighteenth century. After the devastations of the Second World War, these were combined in this salon from different halls, which explains the difference in the motifs, flowers and birds on the one hand, and genre scenes on the other.
The Palace Chapel
After the elevation of Eisenstadt to a free city (1648), Paul Count Esterházy endeavoured to withdraw the grounds of the palace from the city parish and create his own parish church. In 1655, the Bishop of Györ gave his authorisation to build a parish church in the palace. A room on the ground floor served at first as parish chapel, perhaps the location of the old Kanizsai castle chapel. Even before the major remodelling of the castle, a room in the west wing of the old castle was adapted and consecrated by the Archbishop of Esztergom in 1660.
In the course of baroque restructuring, the interior was given its pre-eminently baroque form, still preserved today. The boxes on the first floor were reserved for the princely family, the ground floor for the palace servants and the people.
The right-hand side altar holds the reliquary of the martyr St Constantine, a Roman legionary who converted to Christianity. It is an expression of Pope Innocent XI’s gratitude and acknowledgement of Paul I Prince Esterházy for his services in the fight against the Turks.
Despite the otherwise sparse appointments, an organ already existed in the old Kanizsai castle chapel, which later served the palace lords as a private chapel. It was the work of Georg Winkler, an organ maker from Wiener Neustadt, who built it for 130 florins. As time went by, the newly constructed chapel received a new organ. Paul I commissioned it from the Viennese organ maker Daniel Bauer. It was a “decoratively executed instrument, adorned with three statues”, which covered the entire back wall of the music choir. The present chapel organ is an original instrument from the time of Joseph Haydn. It is dated to the first quarter of the nineteenth century and one of the most outstanding examples in Austria of organs from the neoclassical epoch.