Lovasberény lies midway between the north shore of Balaton and Budapest. To be honest, we hadn’t really noticed it on the map and would have passed through it without pause if we hadn’t been stopped in our tracks by the enormous mansion at its heart. Set back from the road, along with its associated chapel, the sheer grandeur of the place set it a world apart from the typical family homes of the town lining the roadside.
First built in the 16th century it was extended by its Catholic owner in 1699. Having previously closed the Protestant village church he allowed it to re-open in 1708, conditional upon the villagers building the Trinity chapel in the house grounds. Over the next 150 years or so the mansion changed hands, staying in the same family for two thirds of this time, and was considerably extended. The Second World War saw this beautiful building brought to its knees as it was raided and vandalized by the German, Hungarian and Russian forces in turn, what was left being ‘saved’ by the villagers. After the war it was taken under national control but no repairs were effected and it was abandoned a few years later. There is finally a glimmer of hope however as a local foundation is working on how to rescue it and breathe life back into its empty heart. I had hoped to explore the echoing halls but as it was being used for a wedding photo shoot it didn’t seem right to gatecrash the occasion! (All images are copyright to Noeline Smith)