When Nicholas Count Esterházy took over the domain of Eisenstadt as mortgagee in the seventeenth century, there was a small castle garden to the north of the building, and the so-called Tendelgarten to the east. This infers that useful and medicinal plants were cultivated here as well as ornamental plants.
Under Paul I Prince Esterházy, the old castle was converted into a palace in early baroque style. Paul had a kitchen garden laid out in 1659 next to the old floral garden his father had taken over. Between 1682 and 1683, the floral garden was extended to the north and converted into an ornamental garden in Italian style (horto Italico). A regular system of paths and rectangular flower beds were arranged. The garden was further adorned with statues of female figures from classical antiquity and the Old Testament, and water basins with fountains.
After Paul II Anton succeeded to Majorat rule (entailment through right of primogeniture) when he came of age in 1734, in 1740 he engaged in the development of the existing garden into a baroque garden. Louis Gervais, garden architect from Lorraine, was commissioned and produced a sumptuous plan in 1749.
But this was never realised in this form. After several designs were submitted, which were probably no longer the work of Gervais, the garden actually was set out but in a simplified form and subsequently remained unaltered until the succession in 1794 of Nicholas II as first-born heir.
Nicholas II Prince Esterházy was a devotee of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and an advocate of the “natural-style” garden. In 1797 he commissioned his head gardener Matthias Pölt with the alterations on the garden complex that had been set up by Paul II Anton, before Pölt received authorisation in 1800 to realise his plans for the Orangery (ready in 1803) and new hothouses. The area was more than doubled between 1801 and 1803 by the purchase of several plots of land to the north of the existing garden.
In 1803, Charles Moreau received the assignment of restructuring the garden. Between 1811 and 1828, one of the most beautiful landscape gardens of the nineteenth century was created, with meadows and woodland, ponds and streams, copses and groups of trees and single trees, and a thoroughfare of paths. Follies, fantastical in design, neoclassical garden architecture such as the Leopoldine Temple, the Orangery and the engine house, also the Marian Temple outside the park boundaries (Gloriette) were integrated harmoniously into the landscape.
The Leopoldine Temple is artistically speaking the most admirable scenic element in the palace park. It is built on top of an artificial rocky rise. A waterfall springs out of the gorge next to it and flows into a pond, and a path leads through the artificial rocks to the temple, which houses a statue of Princess Leopoldine Esterházy made of Carrara marble by the Italian sculptor Antonio Canova. The temple is a sentimental token of Nicholas II’s feeling towards his beloved daughter Leopoldine.