Within the framework of the National Hauszmann Programme, dedicated to the revival of the former elegance and recognition of the Castle district, the latest architectural visualizations of the façade and the interior of the soon-to-be renewed Royal Palace have been completed. The reconstruction design led by architect Robert Gutowski aims to restore the palace to its original turn-of-the-century state based on years of archival research. After the reconstruction of St Stephen’s Hall, which was handed over on 20 August last year, work can now resume on the St George (Szent György) Square side, with the restoration of the northern gate that used to function as a reception wing through which horse-drawn carriages once drove into the inner courtyard.
According to the plans, the entire ground floor of the palace will become open to the public, bringing the building even closer to visitors. The palace will also become accessible by car from the direction of the northern gate towards the current Hunyadi Courtyard, making it possible for the northern wing to be used as the venue of festive events in the future. In addition, restored historical sites, renovated reception areas, temporary exhibitions, cafés, gift shops and bookstores, children- and family-focused entertainment centres and educational facilities, a church, art galleries, gastronomical experiences, gardens, terraces and lookout points will await visitors.
During the renovation, the former piano nobile will also regain its original form—the current absurdity of all windows being covered by drywall or glass film will cease. On the main floor, today used as a storage hall, the former large dance hall will be reconstructed, from which, exiting to the east through the Buffet gallery, the newly opened up large windows will once again offer a panoramic view of the Danube.
Chief architect of the palace reconstruction Robert Gutowski, winner of the Ybl and Pro Architectura prizes, reported on the details of the landmark renewal of the Royal Palace in his article for the journal Országépítő:
‘The National Hauszmann Programme is the formulation and responsible implementation of community desires. Even without scientific research, one feels that the integrity of the “Hungarian Royal Castle”, as its designer and builder [Hungarian architect] Alajos Hauszmann called it, can only be compared to that of Prague, Cracow and the most eminent royal residences. The turn of the 19th and 20th centuries undoubtedly marked the heyday of the building complex; however, turning symbolic decisions into reality is not some sort of an automated process—reconstruction cannot bring back the original building, since it was destroyed. It is only our accumulated knowledge about the building, our designer and execution skills that can take shape.’
Beside those of the stunningly beautiful Ballroom, Buffet Gallery, Habsburg Hall and Throne Room, the reconstruction plans of the Tabán and Danube façades of the palace in particular reveal what a significant transformation—or more precisely, restoration—of the cityscape may be realized in the coming years.
One of the most striking changes will be the renovation of the Hauszmann Dome, which will be given back not only its original dark colour and its decorative elements, but the replica of the Holy Crown that used to adorn the dome’s crown will also be reconstructed.
As Gutowski pointed out, the architectural appearance of the palace today hides and covers the past like a heavy blanket:
‘The reconstruction of the palace under the Rákosi and Kádár eras ruined a nearly thousand-year-old tradition, inflicting a wound on the inner strength that unites our community, on our self-confidence and on our physical heritage.’
The palace reconstruction plans can be viewed from 19 December in the new visitor centre located in the Hunyadi Courtyard, where visitors can view 3D models of the future, renewed building complex and of the magical Ballroom. And once the restoration work on the northern wing begins, the transformation of the exterior appearance of the building will be real and spectacular.
PHOTOS: National Hauszmann Programme
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