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sights & culture

New Netflix fantasy series filmed at Festetics Palace in Keszthely

Set in a fantasy world inspired by Tsarist Russia, the new hit Netflix series ‘Shadow and Bone’ was shot almost entirely in Hungary, most notably at historic Festetics Palace in Keszthely. Tipped to be the next ‘Game of Thrones’, the eight-episode TV version directed by Eric Heisserer premiered to positive reviews this week.

Adapted from the novels by Leigh Bardugo aimed at young adults, Shadow and Bone stars Brighton-born Jessie Mei Li, Archie Renaux and Zoë Wanamaker, in which an orphan girl with magical powers goes on a journey of discovery around a lavish but dangerous fantasy land. The setting echoes Tsarist Russia.

Filming in Hungary lasted for about half a year from the autumn of 2019 to the spring of 2020. In addition to studios in Budapest and outdoor destinations around the capital, Festetics Palace in Keszthely was another major location. The building and its interior appear as a small Tsarist palace digitally augmented with four onion-domed towers.

The crew of about a hundred people worked in Keszthely for three weeks from November 2019, including a ball scene in which hundreds of local extras also participated. From the library to the mirror room, the countless halls, corridors, staircases of the main building can be seen and recognised in the series, and the courtyard in front of the main entrance and the park have also been brought to life in several scenes.  

Festetics Palace has not played such a big role in a film since the shooting of Hungarian feature Kincsem. According to Róbert Pálinkás, head of the Helikon Museum based at the palace, the series may increase visitor numbers, and he is confident that Keszthely will attract more tourists for this reason as well.

As yet, there is no agreement whether the palace will be used again should a second series be filmed.


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