THE MANSION’S HISTORY
F ollowing the recession of the Ottoman occupation, officer Johann Georg, descendant from an industrial family from Upper Austria, received the land of almost all of Békés county from King Charles of Hungary III, in return for his services to the country. He repopulated the almost desolate region with Hungarian, German, Slovakian and Romanian settlers. The construction of the baroque block of the mansion was commissioned by his son Francis Harruckern whose grandson, Francis Wenckheim, made it into an unparalleled noble residency. Beside it, he raised a riding-hall and planted exotic plants into his park and winter-garden.
The mansion got into the possession of the Almásy family through the marriage of Countess Stephanie Mary Wenckheim and Count Kálmán Almásy. The last Almásy heir, Aloysius, committed suicide in November, 1945, his younger brother Kálmán decided to remain in England at the outbreak of World War II. At the end of the second World War, the mansion was nationalised and in its building, first a vocational, then a nursing school with a dormitory, and finally an orphanage were established. In the 1960’s, a thermal bath was opened in the larger part of the mansion’s park. The mansion was slowly vacated in the 1990’s.
The building was visited by a monarch on three occasions. First, in 1807, by King Francis I, and his daughter Archduchess Marie Louise (Napoleon Bonaparte’s future wife), then in 1857, Emperor/King Franz Joseph and his wife, Elizabeth, and finally, in 1876 he revisited the mansion because of a military exercise.
On August 23rd 1849, 10 out of the 13 generals of Arad, were disarmed here in the mansion and were sent off to their last journey to their execution in Arad.
This is the first Hungarian “castle” where theatre productions were held as early as 1746. The grandfather of Ferenc Erkel (composer of the Hungarian national anthem), lived here as cultural marshal, and even Ferenc Erkel himself visited the mansion on numerous occasions. Mihály Munkácsy started learning painting here at the mansion under Elek Szamossy’s supervision.
AWARDS AND RECOGNITIONS
The mansion’s reconstruction was completed by March 2016. Following this, in 2017, the mansion received the ICOMOS award for exemplary monument reconstruction. In the same year, at the Concrete Festival, in the concrete building-design category, the work of architect László Földes received second place. In 2018, The Almasy Mansion Visitor Center was one of the 40 nominees for the Museum of the Year award.