Thousands were curious about the biggest architectural attraction of 2021

Hungarian version of the article: Ezrek voltak kíváncsiak a 2021-es év legnagyobb építészeti attrakciójára

Written by: Csilla Halász

August 25, 2021 at 10:00 AM

Probably the biggest architectural attraction of 2021 is the reconstruction of the southern connecting wing of the Buda Castle and the re-creation of the St. Stephen's Hall. On the festive weekend of 20 August, an unprecedented crowd waited at the palace courtyard to enter the now handed over part of the building. Krisztina Sikota, Deputy Director General of Tourism and Culture of the Várkapitányság, evaluated the events for our site.

– There were long queues for 3 days on the route to St. Stephen's Hall. Did you expect so much interest?

– It was a great pleasure for us that this many were so curious about St. Stephen’s Hall. I must point out that there are actually three sights here, as the St. Stephen's Hall is located in the part of the building restored to its original form in Buda Castle, which is a sensation in itself. In the rooms leading to the hall, we present the historical hall with a unique exhibition - this is how the three attractions come together. On the weekend of the opening, despite the tight capacity of the venue and many other programs, we had a full house every day, with more than 3,000 visitors viewing the hall and the associated exhibition. Although the interest already seemed huge during the pre-registration, as all the dates were full during a weekend, it was still a great experience to see it live every morning, already at the opening in the morning, there was a huge line in the Oroszlános courtyard. I think this was the most beautiful conclusion to the many years of work that led to the redevelopment of St. Stephen’s Hall.

Visitors are waiting to be among the first to see the rebuilt southern connecting wing of the Buda Castle and the re-created St. Stephen's Hall on 20 August 2021 (Photo: Várkapitányság)

On all three days of the festive weekend, the line was huge at the palace courtyard (Photo: Várkapitányság)

– What do you think attracted the audience so much?

– I think there are several elements to this great popularity." On the one hand, this is the first reconstructed historical hall of the Buda Castle, the present age group has never seen it before, as after the damage of the Second World War the interior of the building was rebuilt in a simplified way, completely alien to the spirit of the place. On the other hand, the whole hall is a wonderful attraction, already at the turn of the century it was a real top performance in applied arts, the greatest masters of the era made their equipment with the best of their expertise, as evidenced by winning the Grand Jury Prize at the 1900 Paris World's Fair. I believe that even today’s professionals have proven to be worthy heirs to their turn-of-the-century predecessors and have created a work that will be an unmissable attraction for anyone visiting the Buda Castle.

Never seen crowd at the palace courtyard (Photo: Várkapitányság)

The visitors came out of the building thinking that all Hungarians must see it. To sum up: how many years of work of how many people is in this?

– We are talking about a really large-scale enterprise, which now dates back 6 years. From Pécs to Pápa, hundreds of professionals worked following the original hall designed by Alajos Hauszmann to recreate the miracle of the Buda Castle as closely as possible. For the sake of completeness, it is not possible to list here the many professionals to whom we owe the work. Inside the new part of the building, on the ground floor, a plaque announces the participants. I should also mention that my own colleagues did their best to introduce the St. Stephen’s Hall to the general public: we reported on the hall’s past and rebirth in social media and the press through countless short films, stories, photos, videos.

Visitors in the renovated St. Stephen's Hall in the Buda Castle (Photo: Várkapitányság)The opinion of the visitors is unanimous: every Hungarian must see this! (Photo: MTI / Péter Komka)During the opening weekend, more than 3,000 visitors saw St. Stephen's Hall and the related exhibition (Photo: MTI / Péter Komka)

– So many years of work have come to an end with the handover of the southern connecting wing. How does the work continue?

– The re-creation of St. Stephen's Hall was a test for us, which we successfully completed. Here we could gather experience about the condition of the Budavár Palace building, what techniques are needed for the work, which is one of our most important tasks: the complete reconstruction of the palace. This autumn we will continue from the direction of Szent György Square. The next big event for us will be the Csikós courtyard, and inside it will be the opening of the Learning Stables building, which will take place this autumn. In addition, this year we will start the reconstruction of the former headquarters of the Red Cross Association and the reconstruction of the building of the Honvéd High Command in Dísz Square, as well as the rebirth of the Archduke Joseph's Palace and the fabulous palace garden in Szent György Square. But we also continue to restore and maintain the historic gardens, parks and promenades in and around the Buda Castle District, as our goal is to make the area worthy of its World Heritage status and to give back a comfortable, homely location to our residents and visitors.

Cover Photo: There is a huge interest in the renovated St. Stephen's Hall (Photo: Várkapitányság)

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