Sélysette Somorjay National Office of Cultural Heritage, Budapest

Search for other papers by Sélysette Somorjay in
Current site
Google Scholar
Restricted access

Available only in print. Until 2020, Acta Historiae Artium was published in print only, with basic information on its contents accessible on the website. Online articles have been available since Volume 62 (2021).


In Hungary, out of the total of some four million buildings, about 10 000 are listed, but a much larger number of constructions are seen as part of the built heritage to be preserved. Under the growing economic pressure buildings of historic value as well as whole areas of interest for the history of art and architecture have become increasingly threatened. While business interest is the cause of demolition of the historic heritage on the one hand, it is also the source of non-preferred construction and reconstruction projects violating historic monuments in a different way. The consequences of the pressure on the national organisations responsible for the preservation of the built heritage to restrict their activity to a strongly limited amount of constructions will be demonstrated on the case of Budapest – an unparalleled example of European capitals. The town presents a unity of style on an exceptional large scale and richness in form and detail as well as a throughout high average in quality which was achieved in a relatively short time span around 1900. The roots of this stylistic unity are various, on the other hand its impact was general in the whole of the country, and is to be well perceived in different forms even today. Sacrificing the seemingly not important or second grade, results in loosing the texture, the context and a whole layer of history.

  • 1. Up till 1992, when, in addition to already existing licenses, it was invested with the powers of public construction authority of first instance, the national organization responsible for historic buildings combined the functions of public authority, academic and planning functions and acted as a specialised and autonomous authority in the case of listed buildings, This change resulted in a quantitative shift in favour of the authority roles, while the academic presence was perceivably driven back. Further in 2001, based on the idea of integrated heritage protection, the supervision of listed archaeological and mobile objects were also brought under the responsibility of the central national office of cultural heritage, and the circle of its responsibilities has since been further enlarged. In this process the care for historic buildings, understood as scientific responsibility, has been increasingly marginalised. As an attempt to rectify the situation, an independent department of research, as the academic counterpart of the authority department was established in 2005 under the name of Historic Buildings Institute. A brief interlude, cut short in 2007. Heritage Protection within the Compass of Legal Regulation. From Law to Law. Stories from 120 Years of Institutional Heritage Protection. Ed. By Judit Tamási. Budapest, National Board for the Protection of Historic Monuments, 2001.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 2. The church was built between 1280 c. and 1500, with subsequent improvement and renovation in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. Bartos, György: Comments on the Architectural History of the Franciscan Church and Monastery of Sopron. Koldulórendi építészet a középkori Magyarországon. Tanulmányok. [The Architecture of Mendicant Orders in Mediaeval Hungary. Treatises.] Ed. By 800 Jahre Franz von Assisi. Franziskanische Kunst und Kultur des Mittelalters. Krems-Stein, 1982 Scrhriftl. Harry Kühnel. Wien, Amtes der Niederösterreichiche Landesregierung, 1982. 461–470.; Marosi, Ernő: The Architecture of Mendicant Orders in Mediaeval Hungary. Koldulórendi építészet a középkori Magyarországon. Tanulmányok. [The Architecture of Mendicant Orders in Mediaeval Hungary. Treatises.] Ed. Andrea, Haris. Budapest, Országos Műemlékvédelmi Hivatal, 1994. 39–62, with German and English summaries on pages 59–62. Closer observations, made possible by the restoration, resulted in the adjustment of its relationship to related buildings.

  • 3. The first Baroque building was erected over part of the mediaeval fortification system of the castle of the bishop of Veszprém in 1751. Two further Baroque periods and several subsequent 19th century ones in the interior were identified by archaeological investigation of the building. The architectural program implied a wide range of different means and approaches of restoration, together with contemporary architectural solutions. They all compile to a harmonious aesthetic outcome, and a rich display of much of the historic substance – to a new architectural entity, that carries the modern art collection of Dezső Károly, exhibited in its interiors, with ease. See Judit G. Lászay, Katalin Németh, and Ildikó Jeszeniczky on the history and restoration of the building and its interior decoration in: Műemlékvédelem. Periodical of the National Office of Cultural Heritage (Hungary), 51. 2007. 94–127., ill., with English and German summaries on page – III –.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 4. The excavation of this late Mediaeval – Renaissance key monument of the cultural history of Hungary commenced in 1934, and has since been – with alternating intensity – in progress, new finds being gradually opened to the public. The fundamental change in the attitude to the site and the approach to its presentation happened with the advancing millecentannial of the founding of the Hungarian state, when – due to the emblematic importance of the monument – significant national resources were made available to enhance the site. Deák, Zoltán: Ruin, artificial ruin or building. Monument restoration in the Royal Palace of Visegrád = Műemlékvédelem, A Public Review of Monument Preservation in Hungary 45, 2001, 2. 79–83., ill. With English and German summaries on – I – and – V –; Marosi, Ernő: Drei mittelalterliche Schlüsseldenkmäler der Kunstgeschichte Ungarns – restauriert. Székesfehérvár, Esztergom, Visegrád im Jahr 2000. = Acta Hitoriae Artium, 42. 2001. 255–281., ill. Akadémiai műhely. Közgyűlési előadások 1999. Szerk. Beck Mihály et al. Budapest, 2001. I.: 49–54. The widespread public discussion of the issue shows that the nature of the phenomenon is rooted beyond the field of preservation. Buksz, 13, 2001, 4. 348–362. hozzászólás [in response]: Buzás, Gergely: Forráskutatás. Viták a visegrádi palotarekonstrukció körül. [The Study of Sources. Disputing the reconstructions of the palace at Visegrád] = Buksz, 14, 1002, 1. 11–14. viszontválasz [in response]: Marosi Ernő: Buzás Gergelynek forrás-ügyben, enyhe érzelmi reakcióval. [To Gergely Buzás on the case of sources, a slighty personal reaction.] = Buksz, 14, 2002, 1. 14.; Buksz, 14, 2002, 2. 109–111. viszontválasz [in response]: Marosi, Ernő: Forrás ügyben, 2/2. [On sources, 2/2] = Buksz, 14, 2002, 2. 111–112.; Marosi, Ernő: Az égbetörő csúcsív közhelye. [The commonplace of the pointed arch reaching the skys] = 2000, 14, 2002, 5. 68–71.; Rostás, Tibor: Magyar Narancs, 2002. január 17. 26–28., ill. Magyar Narancs, Örökségvédelem, 6, 2002, 5/6. 20.

  • 5. Two major 15th century monuments have been preserved in the settlement that lost its previous significance in the 18th century: the church of the minor order, and the present Calvinist, originally parish church of the town. Close to the latter, a single wing of the late mediaeval fortified seat of the Báthori family has survived as an 18th century granary. It is listed historic monument as such. The reconstruction was made possible by Phare funding available to generate local development initiative. Castrum, No 6., 2007. 91–103., ill.; Örökség, 10, 2006, 10. 3–4., ill. Örökség, 10, 2006, 11. 13–14., ill.; Örökség, 11, 2007, 2. 4–5., ill.; Örökség, 11, 2007, 3. 12.; Örökség, 11, 2007, 5. 15.

  • 6. Act LXIV of 2001 on the protection of cultural heritage, Article 7, 7.

  • 7. Pál Lővei Sélysette Somorjay: Masterpiece and average – about the principles of declaring historical monument status. in: Műemlékvédelem. Periodical of the National Office of Cultural Heritage (Hungary), 47. 2003. –V–; Höhle, Eva-Maria: Wie viele Denkmale sind verträglich? Die Listenerhebungen in Österreich = Die Denkmalpflege, 65, 2007, 2. 139–145., ill.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 8. The survey of the architectural substance of the capital was started in a systematic way at the predecessor in title of the National Office for Cultural Heritage in 2000. Funded by the state, the organisation of the work and the elaboration of guidelines were undertaken by the said office. The essence of the method is that every ground plan (according to the present cadastral maps) is examined, together with gardens and park areas, if any, on site, and the field work is completed by the research of a definite circle of archive material. Data is stored electronically and on paper. Evaluation follows in text and on maps. This data forms the basis of all subsequent research and serves the work of the listing department as well. My thanks are due to my colleague Gábor Bazsó, for granting me access to research material in work.

  • 9. Budapest is distributed into 23 districts; by central districts we mean the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 13th and 14th on the Pest side and the 1st, 2nd, 11th and 12th on the Buda side. These cover an architecturewise coherent territory with more or less correlated architectural history, while the rest of the districts, although they may have a lot in common in terms of architectural substance, have to be considered as suburbs with their own self-contained history.

  • 10. The idea of an avenue between the city of Pest (the present 5th district) and the town park, Városliget (established as such after 1813) comes from the prime minister, Gyula, Andrássy, who put great emphasis on developing the capital into a modern European city. Beforehand, access to the park, the only recreation area of the citizens of Pest, was possible only via a narrow and busy route cutting across a suburb of gardens and spontaneous housing. Andrássy meant the government project of the avenue to set example for, and initiate development in other parts of the town, too. To this and to all further data on buildings in the street: Gábor, Eszter: Az Andrássy út. [Andrássy Street] Budapest, Városháza, 2002, 2005.

  • 11. 22 Andrássy Street. Architect: Miklós Ybl, between 1973 and 1884.

  • 12. 25 Andrássy Street, Hungarian State Railways (MÁV) Pensions Office, after 1945 State Ballet Institute Building. Architect: Ödön Lechner, 1882/84. Between 1875 and 1878 Lechner worked in the office of Clémant Parent in Paris and studied the origins of French Renaissance architecture. Gerle, János – Kovács, Attila – Makovecz, Imre: A századforduló magyar építészete[Hungarian Turn-of-the-Century Architecture] Budapest, Szépirodalmi Könyvkadó – Bonex, 1990. 117.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 13. 69 Andrássy Street. Architect: Adolf Lang, 1877.

  • 14. 71 Andrássy Street, 1876.

  • 15. 93 Andrássy Street. Architect: Rezső Ray the elder.

  • 16. 105 Andrássy Street. Architect: Rezső Ray the elder.

  • 17. Originally neo-Classical by József Hild, 1843; enlarged and remodelled in the present (Romantic) form by József Diescher in 1861. Sándor, G. Zakariás: Budapest. Magyarország művészeti emlékei 3.Budapest, Képzőművészeti Alap Kiadóvállalata, 1961.

  • 18. J. Bartunek , 1890. National Office for Cultural Heritage archives. (If not otherwise indicated, data on buildings refer to this source.).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 19. 19 Mária Street, Pfann and Gaal, 1898.

  • 20. This major traffic route in the city (a contemporary to Andrássy Street) runs in a semicircular line more or less parallel to the former edge of Mediaeval Pest, creating a wide band around it, regarded as the ‘inner’ part of the effected districts. The road, however, is not an architectural bounder in any perceivable sense, the style and character of the buildings of the ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ part of the districts are related to each other, a factor that is unfortunately disregarded by building and preservation authorities alike.

  • 21. Architect unknown, 1897.

  • 22. The Corvin Szigony Projekt [Corvin Harpoon Project] aims to replace several hundreds of buildings by a new development of purposefully novel character, arranged on two sides of a newly laid out promenade cutting across the historic structure like a harpoon. The preservation authority, stating that there was not one single listed building on the territory in question at the time of the application, and without as much as suggesting that a survey might be necessary, gave its consent, and expressed its view in favour of the development as being exemplary.

  • 23. Tisztviselőtelep [Civil Servants’ Colony]. The colony opened in 1886 with 117 houses and was continuously enlarged up till the 1930s. The site was granted by the government, public utilities were supplied jointly by state and private resources. Initially only civil servants had access to building plots. Gaál, Mózes: Huszonöt év a tisztviselőtelep történetéből. [25 years from the history of the Civil Servants’ Colony] Budapest, 1911.

  • 24. To illustrate my statements the following buildings were presented: A row of houses in Reguly Antal Street, 49 Bíró Lajos Street (design: Antal Svirovszky, mason, 1888), and 58 Bíró Lajos Street (design: Jánps Makarky, mason, 1890), 58 Reguly Antal Street (no data available).

  • 25. Gerle 1990. 7. (see note 12.).

  • 26. To mention only a few of the relevant sources of inspiration: German Jugendstil in woks of Samual Révész and József Kollár; French-Belgian art nouveau in the work of Emil Vidor; Austrian Secession in the early works of István Medgyasszay, the Vágó brothers, etc. Gerle 1990. 12. (see note 12.).

  • 27. To illustrate my statements the following buildings were presented: Iparművészeti Múzeum [Museum of Applied Arts] architect: Ödön Lechner and Gyula Pártos, 1893/96; for forms and special effects: Földtani Intézet [Geological Institute] 14 Stefánia Street, architect: Ödön Lechner, 1898; for textures: Parisiana, 35 Paulay Ede Street, architect Béla Lajtha, 1908/09 and 5–7 Szűz Street, architect: István Nagy, junior, 1906/07; for colours: Szenes-ház [Szenes House], 46 Thököly Street, architect: István Nagy, junior, 1905/06. Gerle 1990 (see note 12).

  • 28. 8 Liszt Ferenc Square, 6th district. Architects Flóris Nándor Korb and Kálmán Giergl, 1904/07 Gerle 1990. 91. (see note 12.).

  • 29. Founded as the Gömöri Vasmű Egyesület [Gömör Ironworks Association] it merged with its rival in Salgótarján in 1881 under the name of Rimamurány-Salgótarjáni Vasmű Rt. [Rimamurány-Salgótarjáni Ironworks Corporation]. The enterprise was developing dynamically maintaining a prosperity, in spite of severe shocks affected by the Trianon Treaty and later by the introduction of the communist economic regime, up till the general economic collapse in the 1980s which resulted in the closing of the works in 1990–and subsequently in the demolishing of much its industrial heritage.

  • 30. Architect : Béla Marschalko, 1923/24. Gerle 1990. 139. (see note 12.).

  • 31. 9 × 12 cm black and white photographs of the interior show that the pillars were painted with plane, ornament like decoration compiled of motives inspired by Hungarian folk art, typical for certain national streams of the native Secession movement. Town Museum Ózd, Photo Archives.

  • 32. Tisztisor [Row of the clerks], 1890 is a set of six two family houses, arranged in a crescent near the main entrance of the factory.

  • 33. Újtelep [New Colony], 1890s, being an example for Historicism, while Velence telep [Venice Colony], 1921/24 by Béla Marshalkó, for that of Secession,.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 34. As illustration the town house at Arad (Arad, Rumania), a street in Munkács (Mukacseve, the Ukraine), the Hotel Golden Peacock at Beregszász (Beregovo, the Ukraine) and the castle at Ungvár (Ushorod, the Ukraine) were presented.

  • 35. See note 22.

  • 36. Particularly is effected the inner part of the 7th district, where aerial photographs show that the damage being made these days is quite similar to what the communist housing policy caused in the 8th district in the 1980s.

  • 37. Presented were the present street view of Leonardo da Vinci Street with buildings to be demolished and Futó Street with development finished, both in the 8th district.

  • Collapse
  • Expand


The author instruction is available in PDF.

Please, download the file from HERE


Senior editors

Editor-in-Chief: Lővei, Pál

Editorial Board

  • Lővei, Pál (Bölcsészettudományi Kutatóközpont, Művészettörténeti Intézet)
  • Bodnár, Szilvia (Szépművészeti Múzeum)
  • Boreczky, Anna (Országos Széchényi Könyvtár)
  • Sisa, József (Bölcsészettudományi Kutatóközpont, Művészettörténeti Intézet)
  • Takács, Imre (ELTE BTK Művészettörténeti Intézet)
  • Wetter, Evelin (Abegg-Stiftung)

Acta Historiae Artium
P.O. Box 27
HU–1250 Budapest,Hungary
Phone: (06 1) 375 0493
Fax: (06 1) 356 1849

Indexing and Abstracting Services:

  • Historical Abstracts
  • International Bibliographies IBZ and IBR



Web of Science  
Total Cites
not indexed
Journal Impact Factor not indexed
Rank by Impact Factor

not indexed

Impact Factor
Journal Self Cites
not indexed
5 Year
Impact Factor
not indexed
Journal Citation Indicator not indexed
Rank by Journal Citation Indicator

not indexed

Journal Rank
Scimago Quartile Score

Cultural Studies (Q2)
History (Q2)
Visual Arts and Performing Arts (Q1)

Cite Score
CIte Score Rank
Visual Arts and Performing Arts 336/374 (5th PCTL)
History 842/899 (3rd PCTL)
Cultural Studies 659/702 (3rd PCTL)



Acta Historiae Artium
Publication Model Hybrid
Submission Fee none
Article Processing Charge 1100 EUR
Printed Color Illustrations 40 EUR (or 10 000 HUF) + VAT / piece
Subscription fee 2023 Online subsscription: 468 EUR / 566 USD
Print + online subscription: 529 EUR / 640 USD
Subscription Information Online subscribers are entitled access to all back issues published by Akadémiai Kiadó for each title for the duration of the subscription, as well as Online First content for the subscribed content.
Purchase per Title Individual articles are sold on the displayed price.

Acta Historiae Artium
Language English
Size A4
Year of
per Year
per Year
Founder Magyar Tudományos Akadémia   
H-1051 Budapest, Hungary, Széchenyi István tér 9.
Publisher Akadémiai Kiadó
H-1117 Budapest, Hungary 1516 Budapest, PO Box 245.
Chief Executive Officer, Akadémiai Kiadó
ISSN 0001-5830 (Print)
ISSN 1588-2608 (Online)