Friday, February 19, 2021

Travel Memories - Godollo


Rudbeckia in full bloom at Godollo
Rudbeckia in full bloom at Godollo Palace

Are you in a heat wave or a cold snap? I thought we could take a little trip to the town of Godollo, just 25 minutes from Budapest today. 

The summer of 2019 was blisteringly hot in central Europe. In a bit of serendipity, the double booking of our first vacation apartment had us eventually finding a really lovely brand new and air-conditioned apartment southwest of Budapest's city centre. We thoroughly appreciated the coolness after walking many miles each day around the city. 

Every day during our stay we walked several blocks toward the Danube to catch a yellow tram into the city. It was a straight line to the centre and we became quite comfortable with it. On our last full day in Hungary we booked an excursion to Godollo, a home beloved by Sissi, also known as Empress Elisabeth of Austria during the late 19th century. Godollo is one of the largest examples of Hungarian palace architecture. 

As we waited for the tram we chatted about our day and when the bus arrived, hopped on without a thought. 

But wait, this tram had newer seats and looked different. Were we on the correct bus? When the tram took a turn up Haller Street instead of going straight, we knew we were not. At the first stop we hopped off. This was the only day we had a deadline to meet - our tour. Tim pulled up Google maps and we decided that we could walk quickly and avoid waiting for another tram. We did make it to the tour bus on time, in fact, in plenty of time.  

The bus to Godollo contained both English and Spanish speakers, with a guide for each language group. The strongly accented "English-speaking" guide was so difficult to understand that we decided to go with the Spanish-speaking group. (We both speak Spanish, although guides look at us and try to shoo us into the English group wherever we go.) Our guide was very knowledgeable and shared interesting stories and information about the palace, a summer residence for the Austrian royal family, and about Sissi's life. Like Marie Antoinette, Sissi found the public scrutiny of palace life in Vienna difficult and she often retreated to Godollo where things were simpler and she could ride her beloved horses.  

The palace is beautiful and filled with light. Construction began in 1733 in the Baroque style. The public area of the palace comprises just 23 rooms of this vast complex. During the second World War the palace was used to house Soviet and later, Hungarian soldiers. During the excessive cold of the winter of 1945 flooring was removed and burned for fuel. In Vienna, American soldiers did the same to the Schonbrunn palace. It was a desperate time.  

Our tour director led us up these stairs to the first floor location of the tour. No photos were allowed at this point, but there are various photos around the internet if you are interested. 

After the tour we wandered around the extensive gardens. Did I mention how hot it was? This statue of Empress Elisabeth highlights her tiny waist. She was obsessed with her appearance and reduced her waist, after having four children, to 20 inches, with the help of corsets and extreme dieting. Her hair was a source of pride and she often complained of headaches because of the weight of it piled into braids on top of her head. Her beauty regimes were interesting and often bizarre. You can read more of them here

Although excessively interested in her looks, Sissi also played a role in the political sphere and influenced (or tried to influence) her husband Archiduke Franz Joseph I to consider the rights of the Hungarian people, and helped in the formation of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In the end, after 44 years as Empress, Sissi was assassinated in Geneva. 

Before going to Budapest, I read The Accidental Empress and Sisi: Empress on her Own, both by Allison Pataki. These are fictionalized accounts of her life, but with many details taken from history. 


  1. The first thing I noticed about the statue was that amazing waist! I think it must have been difficult to breathe if she was tightly corseted.
    We too have managed to get on the wrong bus/tram, once in Salzburg. It was an interesting ride and we eventually found the city!
    Those rudbeckias are delightful, a sheet of sunshine.
    A lovely visit, thank you Lorrie.

  2. We really enjoyed our visit to Budapest. Such a beautiful city with a Rick history.

  3. It's nice to travel virtually these days. Looks like a wonderful spot in our world.

  4. That's some interesting history I know nothing about -- but wait, now I know a little, because I read your blog post with intriguing and beautiful photos to draw me in. Thank you, Lorrie!

  5. Very interesting . i read about her beauty regimen .I can only say I am thankful I don’t have to do all that.

  6. Oh we are Hungarian on my father's side. His grandparents came over in early 1900s. His uncle had hydrocephalus and played the accordion for the ships most prestigious travelers. Some doctors accompanied him to the alien investigation and they vouched that his hydrocephalus did not keep him from working. So that' s an interesting story. I will send my Uncle who will be 83 next week, one of these books . thanks!

  7. It was enjoyable to read about your trip and see the photos. How fortunate that you speak Spanish and could understand the guide and get the most out of the tour.

  8. Hello Lorrie,

    How wonderful to be cheered with such a gloriously sunny post on a grey, cold and dismal day here in Budapest.

    We know the Palace at Gödöllö very well and, over recent years it has seen a total transformation. the ravages of the Soviet troop occupation and its use as an old people's home had certainly taken their toll on the building, but it is now almost impossible to imagine its derelict state. Indeed, not only did Soviet troops loot the building, but locals did too after bribing the Russian guards.

    The grounds are also much more beautiful these days. We were fascinated by the covered riding track which meant that Sissi could ride in any weather. The old marble horse troughs play testament that the equine care was second to none.

    And, the number 2 tram. Such a wonderful ride along the Danube. A wonder of the world in our view.

    The grounds

  9. Dear Lorrie - I read the link re: Sissi's beauty and diet regime which appears to have been very unusual and rather bizarre. It gave me the impression that she could have been suffering from OCD.
    It is lovely to be able to reflect back to happier, brighter, sunny days - and let us all hope, that days such as these, will soon return.

  10. Lovely to have a little virtual travel from my armchair, I can almost feel the heat from here. Love the pretty pastel shades and the baroque architecture. Happy day we’ll travel again 🤞🏻 B x

  11. Thanks for letting me tag along on your vacation! Love to travel via my living room!

  12. I love reading books set in places I visit...or wish I could visit! What beautiful photos of a wonderful trip! It's so great to have lots of neat photos to enjoy!

  13. Jane Bye6:00 AM

    That was really interesting!! I am now interested to read more about Sissi!

  14. Budapest is my favorite city.
    Having visited twice I've seen a lot but never the Godollo Palace, and knew nothing about Sissi! On my second visit I was fortunate to meet up with the fantastic Jane & Lance Hattat (I see they left a comment), and were privy to many other amazing places via their fun tour on foot. . . . .and ended up having a fabulous luncheon at their home! Next day more sightseeing, meeting their art world friends, and eating out with them - and the city immediately was checked on my list as my favorite forever! Bob loves it too but still says his #1 is Prague!
    Interesting that you could take the tour in Spanish - I envy your fluency - I can just about order tapas!

    Have a lovely weekend Lorrie. Cold but sunny here today, soggy still from all the rain. Travel is returning some day. . . . .it's the waiting and wondering just when that's getting hard.
    Mary x

  15. bettyfromcomox10:50 AM

    Budapest is a beautiful City, with

  16. Lorrie, this was a lovely post. One I enjoyed very much. It reminds me of all the magnificent places there are on this earth and not to forget or take them for granted.
    Thank you so much for sharing your marvelous trip. Have a great week ahead.

  17. I have never been to Budapest but saw one of Sissi’s palace in Corfou where she came to rest.

  18. I enjoyed that virtual trip! Thank you for posting it!

  19. How fascinating! I don't know anything about Sissi, but now intrigued.
    Thanks for sharing!

  20. Thanks for the armchair travel! I think this is likely the closest that I'll ever get to experience Hungary!

  21. I too enjoyed my armchair travel :)
    Lovely post.

    All the best Jan

  22. Hello dear Lorrie I am catching up with you on this overcast day. I LOVED reading about Empress Elizabeth. What price for beauty indeed!


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