Palace Park

Entrance to Wenckheim Palace Park (car park)

After parking in the car park, you can enter the Palace Park on foot.

The designer of the 1870s English landscape park is unclear, although the commissioners of construction, Frigyes and Krisztina Wenckheim, were close friends with the comital family Bolza of Szarvas, whose famous park (now the Szarvas Arboretum, also known as the Pepi Garden) served as a model for the gardens in Ókígyós. József Bolza, or Count Pepi, as he was better known to his contemporaries, was a frequent visitor to Wenckheim Palace. It is very likely that there was a lively exchange of experiences and possibly plants with the creators of the “Pepi Garden” in Szarvas. Given that the palace was designed by the renowned architect of the time, Miklós Ybl, the designer of the park must have been an expert in cutting-edge garden design.

Since Wenckheim Palace Park was designed in the historicist style, no significant alterations had been made to it until the 1930s. The only modifications were the construction of certain “amenities” and the planting of flowers in the ornamental geometric garden area in front of the palace, known as the ‘pleasure ground’. Frigyes Wenckheim and his wife, Krisztina, had seven children, for the amusement of whom they built a playground and doll’s house, and later a ‘mini-zoo’. The zoo’s inhabitants may have included horses, ornamental pheasants, peacocks, dogs, goats, and cats, and a monkey house was built to care for three chimpanzees.

Later, as the children’s children became guests of the palace, new fashionable play areas appeared in the park: a swimming pool, a polo pitch, an “equine swimming” pool, a tennis and gymnastics court, and even an aeroplane runway with a hangar near the park.

The primary sources indicating the former layout of the park are the cadastral map of 1883 and its preliminary sketch, which depict the system of garden paths, the distribution of artificial openings, clearances, groups of trees, flower beds, and the pheasant grove in great detail. This also demonstrates the layout of the boating lake with its islands and iron arch bridge, as well as the garden structures (gatehouses, gas house/ice cellar). Also pictured is the pleasure ground, with the fountain in the centre.

Playground

The playground built for the youngest visitors of Wenckheim Palace is a reminiscence of life in the Palace Park. The monkey house was designed to amuse the children and instil an appreciation for animals. It was originally used for raising pheasants, especially the silver pheasants and peacocks that used to grace the park, and when the number of animals increased by three chimpanzees, a separate monkey house was constructed.

Palm House (now the terrace of Café Krisztina)

Similar to the other palaces built in the period, the Palace of Kígyós had a conservatory that was accessible from both the dining room and the park. As its location implies, the conservatory was primarily used for social purposes and only secondarily as a greenhouse. Similar to the drawing rooms, the library, the smoking room, and the pipe room, it was a setting for casual conversation following formal meals.

Not only the conservatory, but also the well-maintained park, was a testament to the love of plants. The palm house was also used to overwinter the palm trees that used to line the paths during the warm seasons.

The pleasure ground, an artificially created geometric garden space, is a characteristic feature of historicising gardens. Hence the name of the form: pleasure = pleasure, enjoyment, beauty, and ground = plot, area. The pleasure ground is an extension of the living area and a visual and functional transition between the palace and the park. Steps lead up from the terrace in front of Wenckheim Palace in Szabadkígyós to the pleasure ground, which today features a fountain surrounded by a stone pool. It is enclosed by a manicured box hedge. The open grassy area to the south of the pleasure ground is described as having been used for polo matches since the 1920s.

Around 1870, an irregularly shaped artificial lake with an island, inlets, and several bridges was created northeast of the palace. The lake, with a sluice at its eastern end, continues to be fed by the Zsigmondy Spring

A so-called ‘doll’s house’, a cottage with a porch resembling a peasant house,s supplied with a beehive oven and with playrooms created for the Count’s children, was built northwest of the lake.