The municipality of Topoľčianky is situated in the valley of the Žitava River, enclosed by the Tríbeč Mountain Range from the north-west and by Pohronský Inovec from the east. Picturesque scenery of a large English-style park with a monumental classicist chateau is situated in the northern part of the municipality.
The birth certificate of Topoľčianky is considered to be a list of the Nitra canonry estates of 1293, where the municipality is for the first time mentioned under the name TOPOLCHEN PARVUM. Comes Haslav is known to have been the first lord and founder of the Topoľčiansky family.
Archaeological research was carried out in 1990 in the courtyard of the chateau and uncovered several layers of a much older settlement in this locality. Archaeologists also discovered foundations of the oldest stone architecture from the 13th century and from later centuries when other parts were built by the original construction in order to defend the fort. From 1561, Topoľčianky became the Tekov County seat and remained as such for almost 200 years. At that time, the fort played a significant role in the defence against the Turks. Ján Topoľčiansky, a lord of the chateau, also known as “Turkobijca” (Turk Fighter), had the chateau rebuilt on its original foundations. The last major reconstruction of the renaissance chateau was made halfway through the 17th century by the Earl Ladislav Rákoczi, together with his wife Elisabeth, who was born as a Bánffy Countess which is witnessed by their alliance coat-of-arms with its Latin inscription from 1662, which is situated above the eastern entrance gateway.
Halfway through the 18th century, under the reign of Maria Theresia, the chateau and the entire estate were mastered by the Keglevich earls who owned it up to 1890. At the beginning of the 19th century, the third earl of the Keglevich family and the lord of the Tekov county, Ján Keglevich, ordered the southern renaissance wing to be demolished and replaced it in 1818 – 1825 with a classicist tract built according to a project by the Viennese architect Alojz Pichla. This classicist wing of the chateau is considered to be the nicest and cleanest demonstration of classicism in Slovakia.
In the nineteen-twenties, the chateau was used as the Czechoslovak presidential summer residence. The renaissance tract was extended by attic apartments that were sensitively adapted to the style of the architecture by the significant Slovak architect Michal Milan Harmic, and used for presidential guests and visitors. In almost every year of his presidential office from 1923, the first president of the Czechoslovak Republic, T. G. Masaryk, visited Topoľčianky where he always stayed for two months, usually in August and September. He used to visit the chateau not only for recreational, but also for working purposes. In 1951, Antonín Zápotocký was the last president to stay in the pleasant environment of the Topoľčianky chateau.
The classicist wing of the chateau was restructured into a museum exhibiting historical furniture and household furnishings, such as pictures, period-style clocks, ceramics, carpets, embroidered oriental draperies and weapons. All of the movable property in the chateau is original as abandoned by the last aristocratic lords of the chateau and of the estate, specifically the Archduke Joseph August Habsburg with his wife the Archduchess Augusta, a granddaughter of the Emperor Franz Joseph I, when leaving the chateau in October 1918.
Three renaissance wings of the chateau, including an attic extension, are currently used as a hotel. Their ground floor parts serve as catering and social premises.
In the nineteen-fifties, conservationists rearranged the furniture and other exhibits in such a way as to ensure that the furniture and other accessories in each salon were as much as possible of the same style and historical period. By gradually passing through the salons, the visitors may therefore see furniture of renaissance, baroque, rococo, classicist, respectively Louis XV style, and lastly of Biedermeier character with even some secessionist accessories. The expositional arrangement generally offers a pretty good picture of the individual styles. The same may be said about the paintings decorating the salons. The range of paintings covers originals, including contemporary portraits of the chateau owners – the Keglevich earls, as well as copies which are all made according to the originals in the Pitti gallery in Florence. The majority of the pictures are oil-painted landscapes by various Slovak and foreign artists. The décor of the paintings is complemented by a multitude of lithographs, wood-cuts, engravings and other art reproductions.
The collections of ceramics, especially porcelain, also deserve special attention as it is one of the largest collections of ceramics in Slovakia. The collections are arranged in all of the salons. Meissen and Wiener porcelain is represented the most, followed by Berliner, English (Minton, Worcester, Staffordshire), Chinese and less by the French (Sévres), Italian (Capo di Monte Neapol) and Hungarian (Herend) porcelain, German products from Hochst, Japanese porcelain and porcelain from Ludwigsburg and Moscau (Garder). Czech porcelain comes from Karlovy Vary, Slavkov, Stará Role and Březová, and Slovak porcelain is represented by Hutterite and Stupava ceramics.
Exhibits in the salons also include 13 period-style clocks, one of which is periodically in operation. The salons are also decorated with several period-style mirrors.
The visitor’s attention is also attracted by the chateau library, which was founded by the Earl Ján Keglevich. The library was originally located in the Earl’s palace in Vienna and gradually replaced at Topoľčianky after the construction of the chateau was completed in 1825. At that time, the library contained about 10,000 volumes, predominantly including educational and science literature with the writings of French, English and German enlighteners, encyclopaedias, botanical and zoological atlases and others. After its founder, the library collection was later supplemented by his son Stephan and the Archduke Joseph August Habsburg until 1918, reaching the current number of more than 14,000 volumes. Almost half of the books are written in German, one quarter in French and the remaining books are written in Hungarian, Latin and Greek, English and Italian. The collection also contains the first Slovak grammar in the work “Grammatica Slavica” of Anton Bernolák, published in Bratislava in 1790. There is also a rare example of the “Kralicka Bible” as a Prague edition from 1613.
The library has high historical value as it is one of the few fully preserved chateau libraries in Slovakia. It is currently used for research and scientific purposes.
Part of the chateau is formed by the chateau chapel which was built in 1662 in the north-western bastion. The chapel contains a noteworthy picture of its founder Elisabeth Rákoczy on a posthumous catafalque from 1663. Since 1686, the chapel has been a significant sacred site in Slovakia.
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