Romantic architecture in Hungary


July 5, 2022

This article is about the architecture of the Habsburg Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary, which is part of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, so it also affects geographical areas that are no longer part of Hungary. Romanticism is a defining style trend present in Hungarian architecture between approximately 1840 and 1870; chronologically, it forms a transition between classicist architecture and historicization. His most significant masters are Miklós Ybl and Frigyes Feszl; his most important works are the Fót parish church, the Vigadó Vigadó in Pest and the synagogue on Dohany Street. Determining the style of romantic buildings is often made difficult by the fact that elements of several architectural styles appear on one house. Romanesque, Byzantine and Islamic style elements, the semi-circular arched openings typical of the early Renaissance, and the horseshoe-arched openings originating from Islam, and the use of strong plastered blocks are characteristic. In particular, the influence of English (neo)Gothic architecture, instruments, pinnacles, helmeted or flat-roofed, bastion-like towers with pinnacles, and the appearance of partisans are decisive in castle architecture. Due to the political situation, among the architects of the period, the Austrians played at least as decisive a role as the Hungarians.

Characteristics of Hungarian romantic architecture

Romanticism in architecture is a hard-to-define style concept; its characteristics appear for the first time in the era of classicism, clearly linked to classicist buildings, and its eclectic nature, combining various stylistic features, makes it a forerunner of historicization. In Hungary, in addition to the political circumstances, and mainly due to the work of Frigyes Feszl, romanticism took on a national character. Among the romantic architectural features, Gothicism was the earliest to appear in Hungary, already from the middle of the 18th century. Its typical place of appearance was garden and park architecture, but we can also expect the restoration of the Pécs Cathedral by Mihály Pollack. After that, the "Rundbogenstil", i.e. "semi-circular style", which developed in southern Germany, also gained ground - these buildings are characterized by the influence of Romanesque, early Christian, Byzantine and Islamic architecture. In the third direction of romanticism, baroque-rococo features dominate. According to Dénes Komárik, all three trends are characterized by mass formation using cubic, simple geometric bodies. The above trends appeared in Hungarian architecture at the same time as the late period of classicism. By the middle of the 19th century, voices against classicism as a "foreign style" (Lajos Kossuth) grew stronger, and more and more people saw romanticism as an opportunity to create Hungarian national architecture. "Art is only if it has a characteristic relationship with the author, as with his nation, nationality has always been the richest source of art... If we want to become great in art, we must become true Hungarians, not slavishly imitate the art of other nations," he wrote. In 1841, Imre Henszlmann. These hopes are finally fulfilled by the art of Frigyes Feszl, who combines motifs drawn from Hungarian folk art with the stylistic features of Eastern architecture at Vigadó. (Later, during the Art Nouveau period, Ödön Lechner draws from a similar source, but achieves a completely different result.) Moorish-style architecture appears regardless of national aspirations during the Romantic period, primarily in synagogues.

Political and historical circumstances

Although the fundamental demands of the 1848-49 revolution and freedom struggle were not fulfilled, his measures opened the way for the capitalist transformation of Hungarian industry and commerce. Until the country operating under strict authority