Central University Library
Thirty years after its founding, the University of Bucharest inherited this library which quickly grew from 3,400 volumes to over two million books and periodicals.
We’ve all been there — a big-time growth spurt, full of elbow pain, lanky limbs, and a suddenly outsized appetite. The saving grace of growth spurts, though, is they come and go exactly how they say they do… in spurts! But sometimes, we encounter extraordinary exceptions to this rule. We’re here today to tell you one of those very tales. But it’s not the story of a pubescent teen, rather a hulking Hungarian mansion, one that didn’t stop growing for 150 years.
Welcome to the Festetics Palace, a Baroque-style behemoth that’s one of the largest buildings in all of Hungary.
This 100-room, U-Shaped palace is surrounded by a sprawling nature reserve, lush with centuries-old trees, ornate gardens, and more fountains than we could count. The result is impressive, but its maturity process was a long one.
In 1745, the palace was born, when Kristóf Festetics broke ground on the expansive piece of land. Over the next many, many, many decades, his family lineage would continue in his tradition of construction, taking it upon themselves to embark upon increasingly ambitious expansion projects. By the end of the 19th century, the estate was fully grown, finally settling into the gorgeous form it still holds today.
In fact, the palace’s preservation is renowned the world over. It’s not often that libraries survive the damages inflicted by war. But for the Festetics, their grand Helikon library is yet another exception to the rule. During World War II, a scholarly Soviet officer had the forethought to wall off the library, thus preserving the collection of 500 years’ worth of extremely rare collections of knowledge and art.
These days, the Festetics family no longer roams the grounds — and perhaps that’s why there’s no sign of it growing any grander any time soon. Instead, curious visitors can wander the palace just as it is, taking in the wonders of the latest bloomer of us all.
Written by: Drew Tweedy
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