“Once upon a time there was a king” – that was the beginning of all Hungarian fairy-tales I heard from my beloved grandmothers when I was a small child. They talked about how they had lived in their beautiful manor houses before the war, how they had gone for summer trips and winter hunts. I was also told about the garden parties, horse carriage riding, sleigh rides, tennis tournaments and balls. Every single story from their past seemed to me like a fairy tale. Sometimes I imagined myself as a small princess returning into the black-and-white photographs my grandmothers treasured as the only remains of the past.
Times passed, but the old fairy tales continued to accompany me through my wandering life from country to country. Meanwhile, I worked as international journalist of architecture in Zurich, got married, had two wonderful sons and later travelled the world. After the political change of the 90’s, some family estates were returned to the legitimate owners. I visited some of the original family estates – all of them in today’s Slovakia – till I finally settled down in the village of Hermanovce. And here, in the middle of the ancient park that had transformed into a jungle, fate caught up with me: I decided to rebuild the Péchy estate to its former glory.
However, what came back to our family was beyond the worst imaginations. The manor house, which was my mother’s home, had only bare walls and a forfeited roof. The other buildings, which belonged to the estate, looked the same. Our tennis court and a large swimming-pool remained only in the memories of the villagers… In spite of this, I fell in love with this small village as well as our family castle. It took more than ten years till I was able to renovate our former guest house, reconstruct the house of the gardener into a Clubhouse with a tennis court, till we could walk again on gravel walkways and admire the beautiful park. And another ten years until an elegant, big marquee was erected and the facade of the classicistic manor house from 1780 reconstructed. Inside, I created a magic world for festive events – with crystal chandeliers, grand mirrors and antique furniture.
Nowadays, such an estate can only survive, when it opens its gates for demanding visitors. Péchy Castle – as I named it after my grandfather George Péchy de Péchujfalu – became a member of the Association of Historic Hotels of Europe. Its great location – set in the middle of a historic region with a small, but international airport nearby – makes it easy to explore the cultural treasures of Eastern Slovakia: Renaissance towns with Gothic cathedrals of world reputation, wooden churches with ancient frescos, the largest fortress in Central Europe, Spiš Castle (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Baroque manor houses, National parks with rich fauna and flora and the High Tatras belong to the unique attractions in close vicinity.
It took some time of my life. But I feel enriched and proud today as I achieved something I dreamt of as a small child: to save a small piece of European history. Life is about dreams becoming true when a (wo)man is brave. Now that life, joy and harmony have moved back into the old walls, we can continue telling our old stories and start new ones. I hope my guests will enjoy their stays and feel as comfortable at Péchy Castle as the guests of my grandmother Klára felt back in the old times.
We warmly look forward to your visit.
Klára Szakall von Losoncz
Owner of Péchy Castle