Dora Irene Lelbach was born on 22 December 1897 in Subotica, to a prosperous and reputable family. She was barely twenty when she married the family’s friend, Lajos Rudnay, more than 14 years senior to her, the future Hague diplomat. They had two sons. After the early loss of one of them to scarlet fever, Irene met Duke Albrecht and soon they grew very attached to each other. She confessed her emotions to her husband who filed for divorce; Irene and her son then moved to Budapest. After many hardships caused by the South American travels of Albrecht, Duke of Habsburg and Irene Lelbach’s divorce, the lovers finally married in 1930. Their misalliance caused many difficulties for them, particularly to Albrecht, who by this marriage was hindered in his political advancement. Eventually they divorced in 1937, one of the reasons being the duke’s infidelity.
The Hercegasszony (Duchess) Castle – called as such by Mezőtúr’s residents for several generations –, the Túrtő backwater and Pusztabánréve gained their truly paradisiacal feel in the thirties, under Irene Lelbach’s management. The main wing of the building was erected in 1878, by the former owner about whom we have no data from reliable sources. Later Irene Lelbach built the other parts of the castle using her own resources. The U-shaped wings of the main building were completed in 1936; the old tiles were taken from the roofs of farms nearby, to ensure the redolent look suitable to the Neo-baroque style of the building.
In good old days, the castle was a home to the duchess, as well as a place of residence, workplace and source of living for many people. An immense rose garden and colorful flowers fronted the main building and a fountain decorated the yard, breaking the noon sunlight with its warm water sprays and transforming this little oasis into a true garden of Eden. We preserved and renovated this fountain for the visitors to admire it as in the old times. The castle park and the tennis field located behind the house were spectacular visions for the simple people. The idyllic yard was surrounded by an orchard flanked by huge apple trees and the lively greenery of the Körös riverside, obscuring the estate from curious eyes.
The duchess welcomed everyone with lavish hospitality in the castle, beguiling the neighboring estate owners with numerous events: elegant harvest balls and annual dance parties were organized.
The Russian invasion of 1944 marked the beginning of the dark days in the mansion’s history. By that time, the owner left the castle and moved to Budapest, losing it to the agrarian regulation in 1945. Then the castle passed through the hands of several agricultural cooperatives, ending as the property of State Holdings.
When designing the interior of the Hercegasszony Hotel, we approached the monument with a modern vision. Our singular interior design was inspired by the feel we have when visiting the best places of accommodation in Barcelona, Milan, or even Paris: respecting and preserving the old values and complementing them with modern architectural and interior design elements in unique solutions which lend an unmistakable feel and original appearance to the place.