Grand Monuments Honor Beloved Wives in India & Slovakia

Grand Monuments Honor Beloved Wives in India & Slovakia

Source: David Waumsley

I never forget a good love story. So when I read that on today’s date in 1631 Mumtaz Mahal (Arjumand Banu Begum) died in Agra, India, I recalled the story of Františka Hablavcová’s death in Slovakia in 1902 and here is why.

CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons, by Heather Cowper

Mumtaz Mahal (1593–1631) died on June 17, 1631 shortly after giving birth to her fourteenth child. She was the favorite wife of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan (1592-1666) of India. It is said “the intimacy, deep affection, attention and favor which the emperor had for Mumtaz exceeded by a thousand times what he felt for any other.”

Mumtaz was Shah Jahan’s trusted companion and confidant. His trust in her was so great that he even gave her his imperial seal. Despite her frequent pregnancies, Mumtaz travelled with Shah Jahan’s entourage throughout the Mughal Empire until her death.

The emperor was so grieved at the loss of his beloved wife that the following year he began work on the mausoleum in Agra that would house her body. The result was the world-famous Taj Mahal made of red sandstone and white marble. It took 20,000 workers 22 years to complete the precious architectural monument symbolizing eternal love. Named one of the Seven Wonders of the World, it’s considered the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Islamic, Indian and Persian architectural styles.

Most people have heard of the Taj Mahal, but few know of the mausoleum of Františka and Dionýz Andrassy near the village of Krasnohorske Podhradie in eastern Slovakia within view of the Krásna Hôrka castle. It’s been called the “Slovak Taj Mahal” and is only one hour northeast of my late husband Charles’ birthplace in Ozdany, Slovakia (once Austro-Hungary). What these mausoleums have in common is that they both were built by husbands as memorials to their cherished wives.


Small and beautiful, the Andrassy monument was built in 1904 in Art Nouveau style by Dionýz Andrassy (1835-1913), the descendant of one of the oldest and most powerful Hungarian families. He broke nobility tradition when he married the Viennese commoner and opera singer, Františka Hablavcová (1838-1902). They married in Pisa, Italy on April 4, 1866. Dionýz’s  father disinherited his son, but this changed later before his death. The harmonious marriage lasted for 36 years and after the death of his beloved wife, Dionýz built a magnificent mausoleum in her memory.

The mausoleum was completed in one year. It combines the elements of modern secession and classical features. Made of white sandstone, it creates an impression of an octagon. In front of the entrance, there is the word pax (peace) engraved on the floor with angel statues lining the sides. There are lion knockers on the bronze door, and a coat-of-arms relief with eagles and Dionýz’s motto “Non videri sed esse (Not to seem but to be)” above them.

The interior includes golden mosaics and colorful marble from all over the world. Agate-covered and marble sarcophagi are decorated with coats of arms, plants, animals, angels and portraits of Františka and Dionýz who was buried with his wife  in 1914. The altar of Saint Frances of Rome includes a mosaic picture of the saint imported from Florence and elegant works of bronze and gold. This stunning mausoleum is unmatched in Central Europe.

I visited the Andrassy mausoleum with Charles. We felt the love and the beauty. Charles particularly enjoyed the statues in the surrounding park!

One day I hope to travel to India to witness the monument of the Taj Mahal love story.

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