Sunday, May 17, 2015

Ignac Alpar and Historicism I: The Vajdahunyad Castle

Ignac Alpar (1855-1928) was a famous Budapest architect who worked in the historicist eclectic style.  His buildings generally referenced multiple historical architectural styles, but often combined them into a single work--hence, eclectic. The historicist eclectic style was dominant in Budapest through the late nineteenth century, waning only as Lechner's and others' search for a true Hungarian style grew.  The apotheosis of Alpar's eclectic historicism is his most famous building: the Vajdahunyad Castle, built to celebrate the Millenial anniversay of the Hungarian conquest of the Carpathian Basin in 895.  The castle references all the major architectural styles of Hungary, including Transylvanian, Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque.  It was originally meant to be temporary, constructed from cardbooard and wood simply for the Millenial celebrations.  But it was so popular that it was rebuilt in 1905 as a permanent monument, where it still sits in its original setting in Varislogeti (City) Park in Budapest.  The castle is a kind of tour de force, or pastiche, but is actually quite enchanting--though it does remind one a bit of an architectural Disneyland.


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