Near Middle Europe's largest lake, in a romantic setting among the slopes of the Bakony Mountains, stands the world's largest porcelain manufactory. Herend porcelain's design and quality are legendary, and its delicate wares have been treasured by rulers and artists for nearly two centuries. Today, Herend produces over 4,000 patterns of porcelain, while designers keep dreaming up new patterns that retain the old Herend tradition.
Porcelain's value, elegance, delicacy and strength have earned it the name of "white gold". In the late sixth century, the Chinese discovered how to produce true, hard-paste porcelain, but it took Europeans until the eighteenth century to replicate this magical substance. Until then, the Chinese enjoyed the monopoly on porcelain, trading it along the Silk Route: in Asia, India and the Middle East.
When porcelain finally reached Europe, people were immediately enchanted by it. It was so rare in Europe that it was given as diplomatic gifts and collected by monarchs and aristocrats who often created large collections in their palaces. Western rulers spent inordinate amounts of time, energy and money searching to unlock the secret of making porcelain.
Finally, in 1709 in Dresden, through the efforts of Augustus the Strong, elector of Saxony and king of Poland, the quest produced the first hard-paste European porcelain. In the following year Augustus established the Meissen porcelain manufactory, and the Herend Manufactory came soon thereafter.
Throughout the centuries, the trade between China and the West promoted the intermingling of aesthetic tastes which effected the forms and decorative motifs produced in each place. The porcelain patterns, the preference for cobalt blue, delicate tea cups were influenced as much by the Chinese as by the Middle Eastern traditions.