Wekerle Castle
former Beleznay and Wekerle Estates

The Wekerle Estate (Wekerly-major in Hungarian) and the village of Dánszentmiklós were settled in the times of the Kingdom of Árpád due to their excellent location and the presence of a nearby lake. The settlement probably owes its name to a landowner named “Dán”. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the estate was owned by the Beleznay family. There is a nice story about the Beleznay manor house, which was the home of the steward of the Dános estate. Gaylhoffer János, Count Beleznay’s steward, married the count’s wife’s poor niece Erzsébet Wéber in 1828. The manor house into which they then moved must have been built before that year.

The L-shaped, two-storey manor house was constructed in a classicist style with seven rooms. The commercial buildings and servants’ quarters were situated opposite. On the inside of the L-shape, ten irregularly positioned columns marked a corridor leading to the entrance, with the columns doubling up at the corners. One of the couple’s sons, János Gaylhoffer Junior and his son-in-law János Bőhm fought alongside Sándor Petőfi’s younger brother István in the 1848-49 revolt against the Habsburg Monarchy. This is how István Petőfi came to Dánosi as private tutor to the two youngest Gaylhoffer children from 1857.

But after falling hopelessly in love with the landowner’s daughter, he had to leave the estate as she had already been promised to a rich landowner.

Petőfi took up a position as a steward in Csákó in Békés County, where he earned enough to purchase a 400 acre property. This paved the way for him, as a middle-class landowner, to ask for Antónia Gaylhoffer’s hand in marriage. The marriage only lasted eight weeks – the young bride, angered by her husband’s lack of loyalty, moved out of their Chákó home. She only returned for his burial in 1880. When Prime Minister Sándor Wekerle bought the Dános estate, he also took on ownership of the former Beleznay manor house and expanded the L-shaped building, adding a square based two-storey castle in a historical style in the late 19th century. The façade was characterized by the outcrop comprising five sides of the octagonal tower housing the staircase. Narrow windows were built into the upstairs rooms with enormous windows on the ground floor to let as much light in as possible.

Sándor Wekerle was Hungary’s first finance minister from the citizen class and later became prime minister. Between them József Ferenc and Károly IV asked him to appoint a government on three occasions (1892-95, 1906-10 and 1917-18). Ferenc Herczeg described him as follows:

“His exterior is reminiscent of an industrialist from Manchester, but of an extraordinarily impressive, affable and witty industrialist. They called him Hungary’s healer, and it’s true that everything he turned his hand to was a success. As finance minister, he was so successful in managing state finances that he created a considerable surplus, refinancing state debts and introducing the gold standard, forcing Austria to follow his example. The knowledge that we have such outstanding men in our ranks gave Hungarians an increased feeling of assurance. Those who only knew him as the head of the coalition government did not see the real Wekerle. He was an incredibly bright man. Although he knew and learned so much, his spirit was free and he was not tethered by dogma and theory. I don’t think he knew true friendship, but he was on good terms with the whole world, and everyone loved and admired him.”

The castle and the entire estate came into the hands of Hungary’s first local cooperative in 1945. It operated as a tree nursery and student lodging and served a variety of other functions. As time passed, its condition deteriorated, but it really fell into ruin after the regime change in 1990 when a company called Kastély-Club Kft. bankrupted the estate and stripped it of its assets. A Budapest entrepreneur bought the property with a view to selling it on. This is how the estate came into the possession of its current owner who is is working tirelessly to return it to its former glory.