Worth a Visit: Bory Castle

Self portrait, Sculpture by Bory

Bory Var (Castle) is a marvel, but the story behind the castle is even more interesting. Jenő Bory, the creator, was a famous artist, sculptor and architect in the early to mid 1900’s. He was born and lived in Székesfehérvár, the former capitol of Hungary, his entire life. This palace was his home, his workplace, his muse, and his magnum opus. Contrary to most other mansions or castles of the time, Bory did not execute the building of this property with blueprints. Instead, he created it from the ground up, in the same way he would mold his sculptures. He had a vision but it was only in his mind, and he worked away at this project mostly alone and only occasionally with help, over the course of forty summers. It is said that the castle is noted in the Guiness Book of World Records as the “Largest Building Constructed Alone by A Single Person.”

Bory Castle, central Hungary

Bory Castle is nestled in a one acre grove of trees a couple of miles outside of the town center of Székesfehérvár. It is located under an hour southwest of Budapest and about a 75 minutes from Pápa. If visiting Veszprém for the day, Székesfehérvár is only 35 minutes or so from there, and also worth the visit.

Come to Bory Castle with a willingness to explore and a keen eye for detail. You will want to wander the corridors and take in the castle from every viewpoint. Look in all directions as there are several passages not easily noticed at first glance. For example, be sure to walk around the tallest rounded tower as there are narrow paths leading to balconies and porticoes!

It is worth going to Bory in any season, but spring is especially fragrant! I can’t remember smelling roses as sweet as those planted here. Even the iris bushes were rich with scent. And check out all those colors. Be sure to stop and smell the roses.

Visible behind these flowers in the courtyard are the many statues under the arcades. The child on a stork (Birth of the Huzár) and many others can be seen all over Székesfehérvár, Budapest, and other places.

This famous elephant sculpture overlooks the “elephant garden” as it “holds up” Bory’s art gallery
The Statue of Marital Love (inside the Chapel of Marital Love) was modeled after Bory’s wife. He was certainly a romantic, as many of his visions for this place were in honor of his beloved Ilona. Flanking each side of this statue are famous marble sculptures called “Kiss” (1908). The yellow coloured ladies in the mural above the Statue of Marital Love are other famous artists’ muses. The Mona Lisa stands out in the center, and they say they “turned yellow out of envy” from his wife.

The structure has a courtyard with 100 pillars, but there are over 200 pillars total on the property. There are nearly 500 works of art displayed here! As you walk the paths, climb the stairs and explore the grounds, keep in mind that the entire mansion was created for and inspired by Jenő Bory’s wife Ilona.

Walking through the porticos of the courtyard, surrounded by archways, pillars, and hundreds of sculptures!
The towers at the back left of the courtyard symbolize Jenő Bory’s family. The smallest dome represents the youngest child György, the double domes above it are the twin sisters Ilona and Klára and the triangular towers are the parents, Jenő and his wife Ilona. The point with the rooster (right) is the woman, because, Bory said “ladies always turn where the wind blows.”
Around the top of the courtyard a wide arcade can be enjoyed from all points. “Standing guard” are 20 statues, some with two figures, each with special meaning to Bory. What is noteworthy is the statues are made of the same quartz concrete that the building was erected with. Bory was a big fan of this material, as he said it was incredibly durable and versatile.

The spiral staircase was designed by Bory but painted by his daughter, also an accomplished artist, later on to resemble lace.

The sword above the archway is made of quartz cement as well.

It is especially fun to keep an eye out for the little sneaky works of art, poetry, and tiny sculptures Bory has included all over the castle grounds. Here, coins have been laid into the masonry of the walls. Tiny statues play peek-a-boo in unexpected places. No corner or alcove is empty – everywhere you look there is art! Don’t miss the art galleries as well – there is so much to see!

Willow loved the “strange man reading with an owl” statue as we exited the grounds, and I found the “lady lifting her hands to the heavens” statue especially captivating. (Statue names not real.)

Although the property appears small approaching from the road, once inside, it unfolds into many fascinating layers and levels of interest. Imagine that this was built brick by brick, one cement casting, as Jenő Bory saw fit. There was never a grand plan, just a continuous artistically inspired building. This type of creation is so rare, it is celebrated throughout Hungary today!

Entrance Fee: There is an entrance fee that varies for families, groups, or individuals. Children 6 and under are free. It was around $10 for our family of 5, one child free.

Facilities: There are rest rooms!

Parking: We parked for free on the small roundabout Máriavölgy, as directed by what appeared to be an attendant, about an hour after opening. There are a few other spots along the road, but not many. The safest bet is to arrive early in the day.

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