The History of the Mansion - Bajna

The History of the Mansion

The Sándor-Metternich Mansion in Bajna currently has the appearance of a classicist structure, but study has revealed that it has undergone multiple reconstructions. At the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th century, a noble mansion existed on the site of today’s building. 

Bajna and the mansion in the middle of the village had been home to the Sándor family for several centuries. Archaeological excavations uncovered the Renaissance building’s original herringbone bond brick floor, as well as confirming that most of the rooms had a wood joist floor construction, with the “great hall” found on the southeast side of the building perhaps being the only vaulted chamber. The prestigious manor house had no defence system or barrier wall around it, making it vulnerable to Turkish military campaigns.

The Bajna estate was purchased in 1696 by Menyhért Sándor, the sheriff of Esztergom County. The landlord had a mansion erected on the land around 1720. When his father died, Móric Sándor inherited the estate. Architect József Hild drew up the plans for the reconstruction and enlargement, which included a one-story, classicist-style building with a rectangular floor plan for the main wing and a ground floor plan for the side wings. He emphasised the building’s entryway by creating a four-columned Greek-style portico on the façade. The mansion had a dining room, a billiard room, a smoking room, a card room, a conservatory, and a home chapel on the ground floor, while the count and countess’ suites were situated on the first storey. This floor also housed the count’s collection of weapons and pictures, as well as the library and the hunting trophies. Simultaneously with the classicist reconstruction, the interior decoration of the mansion was also renewed. Alessandro Sanquirico, a set designer at the Scala in Milan whom Móric Sándor met on his trip to Italy in 1833, was the one who carried out these works. Sanquirico’s work is mostly seen in the ornamentation of the two great halls on the first floor. The grotesques of Raffaello’s Vatican loggia and the murals of the Roman baths of Titus inspired the ceiling of the Raffaello Hall; while the decor of the Etruscan room was inspired by the illustrations of Etruscan vases. Stuccoist Mario Piazza created the stucco decoration on the ceiling of the room. The colouring and size of the furniture adapted to the decorative painting; some were designed by Sanquirico, while others were bought from England by Count Sándor, and it was Sanquirico too who assisted him with his furniture purchases. Viennese craftsmen created the wrought iron pieces. The former hunting park was transformed into an English park, complete with a boiler-heated palm house full of exotic plants. The count’s world-famous horses enjoyed the comfort of a heated manorial stable.

The mansion was completely destroyed during World War II. It was first used as a camp hospital, and then emergency housing was built within its confines. During the socialist era, the mansion housed the office of the local cooperative and later, a machine tractor station.

The mansion was placed under monument supervision in the mid-1980s, and research and survey work began. The long-awaited substantial repair works, including the replacement of the roofs and ceilings as well as structural reinforcement work, only began in the 1990s, as a consequence of which the mansion was at least saved from collapse. By 2016, Bajna’s jewel had devolved into a disintegrating, life-threatening skeleton both internally and externally; this is when the design and research work began, based on which this Classicist masterpiece, which is considered rare even in Hungary, was revived between 2018 and 2021.

The Sándor-Metternich Mansion in Bajna
Széchenyi ikon