Towards the end of the 18th and throughout the 19th century Pest underwent a series of huge changes. In 1838 a flood destroyed most of the rural dwellings that had occupied the area until that time. The unification of Budapest in 1873, and the 1,000- year anniversary, in 1896, of the Magyar conquest also boosted the city's development. The medieval walls that originally marked Pest's limits were crossed as the area was gradually urbanized. This period produced a number of the most important buildings in Hungary, including St Stephen's Basilica, Budapest Parliament and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, all built in a variety of revivalist styles. Many Neo-Classical residences were also built, particularly on Nádor utca, Akadémia utca and on Oktobér 6 utca.
Hungary's Parliament (Országház) is the country's largest building and has become a symbol of Budapest. A competition was held to choose its design. The winner was Imre Steindl with a rich Neo-Gothic masterpiece built between 1885 - 1902. Based on the Houses of Parliament in London and completed by Charles Barry in 1835-1836, it sis 268 meters (880 ft) long and 96 meters (315 ft) high, and comprises 691 rooms.
Special points of interest:
- Dome: The ceiling of the 96 meters (315 ft) high dome is covered in an intricate design of Neo-Gothic gilding combined with heraldic decoration.
- Gables: Almost every corner of the Parliament building features gables with pinnacles based on Gothic sculptures.
- Main Staircase: The best contemporary artists came to Budapest to decorate the interior. The sumptuous main staircase features ceiling frescoes by Károly Lotz and sculptures by György Kiss.
- Old Upper House Hall: The Old Upper House Hall is now used for holding international conferences. It is almost a mirror of the National Assembly Hall.
|Address||Kossuth Lajos tér, Budapest|
Ethnograpical Museum Budapest
The building of the Ethnographical Museum (Néprajzi Múzeum) was designed by Alajos Hauszmann and constructed between 1893 -1896. It was built as the Palace of Justice and, until 1945, served as the Supreme Court of Hungary. The building's design links elements of Renaissance, Baroque and Classicism. A vast portico crowned by two towers dominates the façade. It also features a gable crowned by the figure of the Roman goddess of justice in a chariot drawn by three horses, by Károly Senyei. The grand hall inside the main entrance features a marvellous staircase and frescoes by Károly Lotz.
The building was first used as a museum in 1957, housing the Hungarian National Gallery, which was later transferred to the Royal Palace. The Ethnographical Museum has been here since 1973. The museum's collection was established in 1872 in the Department of Ethnography at the Hungarian National Museum. There are now around 170,000 exhibits, although most are not on display.
The collection includes artifacts reflecting the rural folk culture of Hungary from prehistoric era to the 21st century. A map from 1909 shows the settlement of the various communities who came to Hungary. Ethnic items on these communities, as well as primitive objects from North and South America, Africa, Asia and Australia, can also be seen. The museum has two very informative permanent displays: Traditional Culture of the Hungarian Nation, and From Primeval Communities to Civilization.
|Address||Kossuth Lajos tér 12, Budapest|
St Stephen's Basilica near Budapest Parliament
This church designed by József Hild is dedicated to St Stephan, or István, the first Hungarian Christian king. The church has a Neo-Classical style, using a Greek cross floor plan. Construction began in 1851 and was taken over in 1867 by Miklós Ybl, who added the Neo-Renaissance dome after the original one collapsed in 1868. József Kauser, completed the church in 1905. It received the title of Basilica in 1938, the 900th anniversary of St Istváns death.
Points of interest:
- St Matthew is one of the four Evangelists represented in the niches of the exterior of the dome. They are all the work of the sculptor Leó Feszler
- The tower houses a bell, weighing 9,144 kilogram (9 tons) . German Catholics funded it to compensate for the original bell, looted by the Nazis in 1944.
- The massive door in the main portal has a decoration with carvings depicting the heads op the 12 Apostles.
- The painting by Gyula Benczúr shows King István, left without an heir, dedicating Hungary to the Virgin Mary, who became Patrona Hungariae, the country's patron.
Post Office Savings Bank Budapest
A masterpiece by Ödön Lechner, the former Post Office Savings Bank (Postatakarék Pénztár) was built between 1900 - 1901. Chiefly a Secession architect, Lechner joined the curvilinear motifs of that style with motifs from Hungarian folk art to make a unique visual style for his work. Approaching the Post Office Savings Bank, one can see glimpses of the details that have made this building one of Pest's most unusual sights.
The construction methods, interior design and exterior detailing are remarkable. Lechner commissioned the tiles used in the design, including the vibrant roof tiles, from the Zsolnay factory. The façades are decorated with floral tendrils and icons taken from nature. The bees climbing up the gable walls represent the bank's activity and the pinnacles, which look like hives, represent the accumulation of savings. These features were intended to be accessible to the people who banked here. The building is not officially open to the public, but it's possible to see the Cashiers' Hall during office hours.
|Address||Hold utca 4, Budapest|
|Metro||Kossuth Lajos tér|
Ministry of Agriculture Budapest
On the southeast side of Kossuth Square is the huge building of the Ministry of Agriculture (Földmüvelésügyi Minisztérium), bordered by streets in all its four sides. Gyula Bukovics it at the end of the 19th century. The design of the façade is typical for late Historicism, drawing heavily on Neo-Classical motifs. The columns of the colonnade echo in the fenestration above the well-proportioned pedimented windows. On the wall to the right of the building there are two commemorative plaques.
The first is in honour to the commanding officer of the Polish Legion, who was also a hero of the uprising in 1848-1849. Brigadier M. Woroniecki, who was famous for his bravery, was shot down at this spot by the Austrians in October 1849. The second plaque honors Endre Ságvári, a Hungarian hero of the resistance movement, who died in the fighting against the Fascists in 1944. The two sculptures in front of the building are by Árpád Somogyi. The Reaper Lad dates from 1956 and the Female Agronomist from 1954.
|Address||Kossuth Lajos tér 11, Budapest|
|Metro||Kossuth Lajos tér|
Budapest Operetta Theater
Budapest has a good reputation for musical entertainment, and its operetta scene is over 110 years old. Operettas were first staged on this site in the Orfeum Theater, designed in the Neo-Baroque style by the Viennese architects Fellner and Helmer, in 1898. The project was financed by the impresario Károly Singer-Somossy. In 1922, the American entrepreneur Ben Blumenthal redeveloped the building and opened the Capital Operetta Theater, which then specialized in the genre. After 1936, this theater became the only venue for operetta in Budapest.
The repertoire of the theater includes works of both international and Hungarian composers of this genre, including Imre Kálmán, Ferenc Lehár and Pál Ábrahám, who wrote the Csárdás Princess.
Gresham Palace Budapest
The Secession style Gresham Palace (Gresham Palota) aroused both controversy and praise from the moment building work started. One of Budapest's most distinctive pieces of architecture, it was commissioned by the London-based Gresham Life Assurance Company from Zsigmond Quittner and the brothers Jószef and László Vágó, and completed in 1907. This enormous edifice enjoys an imposing site directly opposite the Chain Bridge. The façade features Secession motifs, such as curvilinear forms and organic themes. The ornately carved window surrounds appear as though they are projecting from the walls, blending seamlessly with the architecture.
|Address||Roosevelt tér 5-7, Budapest|