Thursday Top Ten: Interwar Period Buildings And Architectural Sights In Hungary
Tamás Székely 2017.01.12.
In Hungary Today’s weekly series “Thursday Top Ten” our readers can learn about the most interesting things one can find about Hungary in connection with a given topic. Following last week’s article about the most awaited Hungary-related events of the year, this week we continue our series about the amazingly rich architectural heritage of the Carpathian basin from the ancient times to today. Our next target are those buildings and architectural sights of Hungary that were constructed between the First and Second World Wars.
1. University of Debrecen
The main building of the University of Debrecen is one of the most impressive buildings of interwar period Hungary. In 1921, the university took the name of Count István Tisza, famous prime minister of Hungary, who was murdered by political terrorist in 1918. The main building was completed in 1932 under the legendary minister of education Kúnó Klebersberg. It is the largest building in the city of Debrecen, and was designed in eclectic and neo-baroque style. The central courtyard is covered with glass roof. The building also has an arcaded corridor system, whose walls are inscribed with the names of the school’s most renowned professors and former students. The fountain in the spacious French-style park in front of the building plays a special role in student tradition: Graduates are supposed to take a plunge in its pool after their finals.
2. Votive Church of Szeged
After the a great flood destroyed the city of Szeged in 1879, locals made an oath to build a majestic catholic church. Although the construction works based on the plans by designed by Frederick Schulekbegan in 1913 , due to the First World War, it was completed only in 1930. With its 91 meter high twin towers, the votive church is the fourth largest church in the country. It is located is located in Dóm Square Szeged, which is exactly the same size as Piazza San Marco in Venice, Italy. The architecture of the church, which is also known as Cathedral of Our Lady of Hungary, is characterized by the mixture of Roman, gothic and eastern Byzantine style elements. Its interior features curiosities like the organ with 9,040 pipes, the image of Madonna dressed in shepherds felt cloak and Szeged slippers, as well as the statue ‘Christ on the Cross’ by János Fadrusz, who won the main prize at Paris World’s Fair in 1900.
3. Church of Pasaréti tér
As well in many other cities of Europe, Bauhaus was a dominant architectural tendency in Budapest during the interwar period. Not only large residential buildings were built in this modern style but also churches such as the Church of St. Anthony of Padua in Pasarét. It was built in 1933, according to the solemn and simple plan of Gyula Rimanóczy, one of the masters of the Hungarian Bauhaus architecture. The modern-looking church’s fascinating interior is divided into three sections: the church, the friary and the belfry. The local Catholic community celebrated the 75 anniversary of their church’s consecration in 2009.
4. Bauhaus in Budapest
In 1931, some representatives of the modern architecture style made a proposal to the Budapest Public Works Council to have a whole street designed by the best Bauhaus architects, based on an example in Stuttgart. The plan was implemented in one year in the Napraforgó street where altogether 22 villas were built within a short space of time. The new buildings quickly became an example to follow, so one can find Bauhaus villas in other districts of Budapest, including Újlipótváros, Városmajor and Pasarét. The house pictured above won the prize for the Best European Family House in 1933 at the International Architecture Triaennial in 1933. It was built in the Lejtő street for the chairman of the Hungarian Trade Associaton by Farkas Molnár, who studied in the Bauhaus School in Dessau.
5. Ferihegy-1 Airport
The idea of building a modern airport in Budapest southeast of the city was born only in 1938. The airport was intended as jointly for civil-military-sporting purposes, therefore civil facilities were built up in the north-western and military ones in the south-western section. The designer, Károly Dávid Jr. (1903–1973), dreamt of a building which resembled an aircraft from the top-side view. Aviation started at the airport in 1943, however, due to the war the construction slowed down and eventually stopped. In 1944-1945, many of the airport buildings were heavily damaged, consequently the airport underwent a massive reconstruction after the war. In the 1990s a second terminal was also constructed, which led to the closure of the first one in 2012. The airport is now called Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport, in honor of the legendary Hungarian-born pianist and composer Franz Liszt.
6. Post Palace in Budapest
Thousands of people cross through Budapest’s Széll Kálmán tér every day, but only few know what is that huge palace on the Southwestern side of the square. The answer is simple: it was the headquarters of the Hungarian Postal Services until 2008. The building was constructed between 1924 and 1926 in eclectic style according to the design plans by university professor and architect Gyula Sándy. During the Second World War the building was heavily damaged, the employees could move back only in 1947. The impressive state-owned building, protected by the authorities, was sold to private company in 2008 as part of a controversial business deal. The 14.000 square meter palace was bought back by the Hungarian National Bank (MNB) in 2016 and it is now undergoing a large-scale refurbishment, which is expected to be completed in 2018.
7. Wekerle estate
The so-called Wekerle estate (“Wekerle-telep”) is located in Budapest’s 19th district. The group of buildings constructed around a square-shaped garden was named after Sándor Wekerle, the Hungarian Prime Minister, who supported the idea of building comfortable, human-scale housing estates for government employees, and was instrumental in launching the project of creating a garden city habitat. Between 1908 and 1925 more than 1000 houses were constructed containing 4412 apartments. The main square of the Wekerle estate is the work of the famous Transylvanian architect Károly Kós. Thanks to the garden city atmosphere, the estate remains very popular up to today. The exterior of one of the buildings on the central Kós Károly Square is used as the central location of the popular Hungarian daily soap opera “Barátok közt”.
8. Petőfi bridge
The Petőfi Bridge is the second southernmost one of the twelve bridges in the Hungarian capital that connect Pest and Buda across the Danube. On the Pest side it reaches the Boráros tér, while on the Buda side it ends at the Goldmann György tér in the near of the Budapest University of Technology. The 514 meter long and 25.6 meter wide bridge was built between 1933 and 1937, according to the plans of Hubert Pál Álgyay. The bridge is now named after romantic poet Sándor Petőfi, but was known as “Horthy Miklós híd” before 1945. As well as the other bridges of Budapest, the Petőfi bridge was exploded by the retreating German army in the Second World War.
9. Palace Hotel Lillafüred
The idea of creating a tourist resort in Lillafüred near the city of Miskolc was raised by Count István Bethlen, Prime Minister of Hungary, in the 1920s. The palace was designed by Kálmán Lux, the famous architect of that time, whose idea was to build the hotel in the Renaissance style of the 1400s, bringing back the atmosphere of the reign of King Mátyás. The construction work, a demonstrative examples of the well-organized communal work during the interwar period’s economic crisis, lasted from 1927 to 1930. The hotel and health resort quickly became the favorite residence of high society guests. Luckily the palace was not damaged heavily in the war, although it was converted into a military hospital for wounded Russian soldiers. In the Communist times, the building was owned by the National Council of Trade Unions. In 1993, it was acquired by the Hunguest Hotels Group, which turned to building into a luxurious four-star hotel over the course of last twenty-four years.
10. Catholic Church of Zebegény
The Catholic Church of Zebegény is located in a picturesque historic village in North Hungary along the river Danube at the feet of the Börzsöny mountain. The building, designed by legendary Transylvanian-Hungarian architect Károly Kós, is widely regarded a masterpiece if the Hungarian Art-Nouveau architecture. The inside of the church is a beautiful cavalcade of Hungarian “Secessionist” art and shows the conversion of Constantine the Great, and the finding of the Relics of the true Cross by St. Helena. Zebegény is known not only for its unique church dedicated to “Our Lady of the Snows” but also for its magnificent natural environment. Within a short walk distance one can find three caves above the village that were inhabited by monks in the medieval ages.