Built in 1844, the neo-classical Károlyi Palace in Fehérvárcsurgó, with its 6,000 square meters of living space and vast outbuildings and set in a protected 100-acre park, is one of Hungary’s great historical monuments. Though abandoned for many years, these features together with its readily accessible location gave the palace a natural vocation to serve the country’s opening to the rest of Europe.
The aim of the Joseph Károlyi Foundation, established by the Károlyi family in 1994, was to turn the Fehérvárcsurgó estate into a Cultural Meeting Centre, part of the European network of Cultural meeting centres located in Historical Monuments, thereby ensuring the rehabilitation and preservation of a major historical monument.
The Cultural Meeting Centre is open to the public and contributes to the promotion of cultural tourism. It is why, in addition to the libraries which contain over 12 000 volumes, the Centre offers exhibition, conference, concert, and residential facilities where researchers, musicians, and students are hosted. It is also possible, after the concerts, to spend the night in the mansion’s hotel rooms or have a gastronomic dinner in the restaurant.
The Foundation organizes conferences alone or with other research or cultural institutes and University departments, as well as workshops for teachers and students, heritage classes, and meetings upon the theme of built and green heritage and European history and architecture for school children. It welcomes every year a Summer Music Academy organized by the Director of the Chamber Music Department of the Budapest Music Academy.
The rooms are equipped for holding residential or non-residential seminars, conferences, symposia, retreats, or receptions and weddings. These same facilities can also be used for exhibitions. The palace lends itself also extremely well to the organisation of both indoor and outdoor spectacles and concerts. Participants can be hosted in the stately home in 25 rooms recently refurbished as a four-star hotel.
The cultural project for the Palace conceived by the Joseph Károlyi Foundation has been approved by the Hungarian authorities, who retain ownership of the building but let the Foundation use it on a long-lease basis. On the other hand, the Foundation conducts its project in harmony with the development needs of the village of Fehérvárcsurgó and of the County of Fejér, particularly rich in historical buildings. A fruitful cooperation exists with the Alba Regia Symphonic Orchestra of the nearby city of Szekesfehérvar for outdoor concerts and musical programs in the 50 hectare park.
In 1995, the project of cultural rehabilitation developed by the Joseph Károlyi Foundation for Fehérvárcsurgó Palace was given the label of the World Decade for Cultural Development awarded by UNESCO. This was the first time a Hungarian historical monument received this distinguished award for the cultural project it bears.