There’s a building I show to all my guests (I am a tour guide) and friends visiting Budapest. It can pass unnoticed, since it’s behind one of the biggest squares in Pest, but it shouldn’t, as it’s the masterpiece of the genius architect Ödön Lechner, often compared to Antoni Gaudí, although slightly older than his famous Spanish fellow.
Lechner is also considered the father of Hungarian variation of the Art Nouveau, a style named Szecsesszió (secession). Secessionist architects are my favourite, as they are bold enough to take the distance from neo-romantic, neo-classical and eclectic, the styles that had dominated until that moment, to create something authentically local and therefore unique. This white and yellow building is rich with decorations, featuring Miksa Róth’s mosaics embedded into cement. Yet, it comes out as spacious, thanks to the blank space in between elements, which is just as important as the mosaics surrounding the windows and the statues characterising the roof.
I will never forget the first time I noticed this building, the happiness it gave to my eyes.
When they asked Lechner why he put so much work and value on a rooftop nobody could see, he replied “the birds will”. This is what I love the most about him. He only cared for art.