History of Buda Castle - Era of Franz Joseph

Era of Franz Joseph

The palace was soon rebuilt between 1850 and 1856 by Josef Weiss and Carl Neuwirth. The 13-axis central wing was raised with a third storey and a very squat attic-tower. The central risalit was decorated with a balcony of six colossal columns. With these changes the former Viennese Baroque palace of Maria Theresa became a more austere Neoclassical Baroque building.

The ballroom was redecorated with marbles and stuccoes. After 1853 stately rooms were designed in French Rococo style with white-gold stuccoes and furniture from the Hofburg.

That time the palace was already too small for the needs of the royal court, so the kitchens and service rooms were housed in the neighbouring Zeughaus. The palace was connected with the Zeughaus with a glassed-in passageway.

On the western side of the cour d'honneur two smaller buildings were erected by the plans of Weiss and Neuwirth in 1854. The two-storeys Stöckl housed the apartments of the Archdukes and imperial officials. The Wachlokal was built for the royal guards.

Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria visited Buda Castle in 1856 and 1857. Later in 1867 after the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 Franz Joseph was crowned to the king of Hungary. The palace played an important part in the lavish ceremony, symbolizing peace between the dynasty and the nation.

In the last decades of the 19th century Budapest experienced rapid economic development. Ambitious urban planning projects were carried out to express the growing wealth and higher status of the Hungarian capital. Among these projects special attention was paid to the rebuilding of Buda Castle. The autonomous Hungarian government intended to create a royal palace that matches any famous European royal residence (especially the old rival, Vienna's Hofburg). The process of rebuilding lasted about forty years between 1875 and 1912, and caused sweeping changes in topography of the whole area.

At first the Várkert-bazár (Royal Garden Pavilion) was built on the embankment of the Danube, at the foot of the Castle Hill, between 1875 and 1882. This splendid Neo-Renaissance gateway was designed by Miklós Ybl, the most famous Hungarian architect of the period. The structure was an open business arcade with pavilions, stairways and ramps and two blocks of flat. Ybl also built a new waterworks pumping station, called Várkert-kioszk (Royal Garden Kiosk) and two stair towers standing against the medieval cortina walls. The southern one followed French Renaissance style, resembling a small turreted castle, while the northern one was similar to a Gothic brick-donjon. Only Várkert-bazár and Várkert-kioszk survived the destruction of the 20th century of these works.

In 1882 Prime Minister Kálmán Tisza charged Ybl with drawing a masterplan for rebuilding the palace. In his 1885 masterplan Ybl preserved the old Baroque palace but mirrored it on the western side of the cour d'honneur, doubling the size of the residence. He also planned a new carriageway on the western hillside demolishing the medieval walls and towers of the Újvilág-kert terrace. The main problem was caused by the narrowness of the natural plateau of the Castle Hill because there wasn't enough space for the new Krisztinaváros wing (so called after the neighbouring city district). Ybl solved the problem with erecting a huge substructure that goes down to the foot of the hill. The monumental western façade sits on this windowless, three-storeys high substructure so the whole palace is making up a towering, 6+3-storeys high block almost absorbing the whole hill. On the other hand the main façade on the cour d'honneur has only the same modest height as the Baroque palace. The whole façade was clad with stone slabs while the old parts are stuccoed so the difference between the original Baroque and the Neo-Renaissance wings is obvious. The formerly open cour d'honneur became a closed court with a splendid, arched gateway guarded by the four lions of sculptor János Fadrusz. The court is called Lions Court (Oroszlános udvar).

The works began on 1 May 1890 but Ybl died on 22 January 1891. His successor, Alajos Hauszmann only slightly modified the plans of the Krisztinaváros wing. In 1896 the building reached the level of the court and King Franz Joseph ceremoniously laid down the foundation stone of the palace that was soon completed.

In 1893 the 25 years jubilee of King Franz Joseph's coronation was celebrated in the Royal Palace. The old banqueting hall proved to be too small so Hauszmann enlarged the room with knocking down and reconstructing the wall towards the cour d'honneur (the one with the Hillebrandt façade).

In spite of this and Ybl's new wing the palace was still deemed insufficient for great royal celebrations so another new construction began. The north wing, standing on the site of the old Zeughaus, was completely designed by Hauszmann. The architect doubled the Baroque palace on the Danube side, generally imitating its traditional architectural style. At the meeting point of the old and the new wings a huge colonnaded portico was erected with a lavishly decorated tympanum (allegorical statues by Károly Sennyey) and a flight of steps called the Habsburg steps. The whole palace was crowned with a dome and a copy of the Crown of St. Stephen on its top. The dome shows German Jugendstil influences like other details of the north wing, for example the rear façade towards the western forecourt. This forecourt was decorated with the famous Matthias Fountain (Hungarian: Mátyás kútja), a work of sculptor Alajos Stróbl. Above the main gate towards Szent György tér stood the statue of Goddess Hungaria. This side was the main façade of the complex although it was much shorter and less characteristic than the long Danube façade. The old Chapel of the Holy Right was knocked down for the sake of a carriageway.

Hauszmann also designed a new Riding School in the former Újvilág terrace that was now called Csikós court after the Csikós statue of György Vastagh (now in the western forecourt). Before the middle of the long Danube façade another equestrian statue was erected in honour of Prince Eugene of Savoy, the victorious leader of the Habsburg army in the Battle of Zenta. The eastern forecourt was closed off with a lavish wrought iron rail. Two flights of steps lead up to the Szent György tér, laying on much higher ground. The rail ended in a pillar crowned by a monumental statue of the legendary Turul, the sacred bird of the Magyars, spreading its wings above Budapest.

In the western forecourt Hauszmann designed a new neo-Baroque Guardhouse and rebuilt the old Royal Stables. The Royal Gardens on the southern hillside were famous about their precious plants, glasshouses and picturesque terraces. In the middle of the gardens stood the Swiss House of Queen Elisabeth furnished with Hungarian folk art objects. The house was built above the ruins of the medieval Gatehouse partly making them use.

The inside of the whole palace complex was decorated and furnished exclusively with works of the leading Hungarian artists of the age. The Royal Palace was officially inaugurated in 1912. Contemporary critics praised it as the most outstanding Hungarian building of the turn of the century. Indeed it was a magnificent Gesamtkunstwerk of architecture, sculpture, applied arts and gardening.

Read more about this topic:  History Of Buda Castle

Other articles related to "era of franz joseph, franz joseph":

Buda Castle - History - Era of Franz Joseph
... Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria visited Buda Castle in 1856 and 1857 ... After the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, Franz Joseph was crowned king of Hungary ... reached the level of the court, and King Franz Joseph ceremoniously laid down the foundation stone of the palace, which was soon completed ...

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