A pantheon “in the heart of the nation” in the spirit of Imre Makovecz

Although Imre Makovecz, the favorite architect of Viktor Orbán and the Hungarian political right in general, died in 2011, his name still appears in the Hungarian media. The last time was only a few days ago, when it was discovered that the readers of an English-language internet site, Daily Dot, considered Makovecz’s Catholic church in Paks the most “evil-looking church” anywhere. “Yeah, I’m 99 percent sure this was built by some goofy mom who gives out weird treats on Halloween, but I’ll prefer to consider this as Dracula’s seasonal residence, OK?” the paper observed. HVG, which reported the story, didn’t quite understand why this Makovecz creation seemed frightening to the readers of Daily Dot, but cagily they attached a photo of it taken from an entirely different angle.

I have a distinct aversion to Makovecz’s buildings and an even worse opinion of him as a person. He was a bigoted, narrow-minded, chauvinistic, ignorant anti-Semite. Anyone who wants to know more about him should read my post titled “An interview with Imre Makovecz, a favorite of Viktor Orbán.” The interview took place in May 2011, shortly before his death.

Makovecz may have died, but a whole slew of Makovecz epigones have surfaced. The Pancho Arena in Felcsút, for instance, was designed by Tamás Dobrosi, an admiring pupil and associate of Makovecz. Those of us who are not fans of Makovecz’s work will most likely have to endure dozens of buildings in the Makovecz tradition in the future.

It’s one thing to be confronted with local churches and soccer stadiums done in Makovecz’s style. It’s another thing entirely to have his style dominate the Budapest cityscape.  Such a fate might be in the offing with the government’s decision to “revitalize” the Gellért Hill, which overlooks the Danube and offers one of the best panoramic views of the city.

Historically, the site is associated with an act of Christian martyrdom. According to a late eleventh-century manuscript, Saint Gellért/Gerard, originally from Lombardy, the bishop of Csanád (today Szeged-Csanád), met his death here. In 1047 a group of pagan insurgents dragged him to the top of the hill in a cart, which then they let loose to plummet over the cliff.

Makovecz was eyeing the Gellért Hill for a long time. In an interview with Index in 2008 said that both the Citadel and the Statue of Liberty, which currently dominate the hill, are atrocities. After all, the Citadel was built for military purposes by the Austrians after the failed revolution of 1848, and the Statue of Liberty was ordered by the Soviet occupiers. He showed his plan to the journalist of Index, which was a large, typical Makovecz-looking building, a national pantheon. He told Index that he had received no request from anyone to come up with such a design, he just “drew the plan for the entertainment of God.”

The Statue of Liberty with the Citadel in the background

The Statue of Liberty with the Citadel in the background

He then elaborated on the details of how the Statue of Liberty came into being. As I pointed out in my 2011 article on Makovecz, historical accuracy is not his strength. He repeated the urban legend that the Statue of Liberty, created by Zsigmond Kisfaludi Strobl (1884-1975), was originally sculpted as a memorial for István Horthy, son of the governor, who died on the Russian front in 1942. According to that untrue story, when the Soviet order came for a statue to commemorate the liberation of Hungary, Kisfaludi Strobl simply adapted it to serve the new purpose.

Although the original Statue of Liberty has undergone modifications–the Soviet soldier at the base was removed as was the Cyrillic script, the changes didn’t appease Makovecz. He dismissed it as an inferior piece of art, despite the consensus that Kisfaludi Strobl’s work is of high quality. Moreover, if asked, I doubt that too many people would want the statue to be removed. By now it is an integral part of the city.

national pantheon

Imre Makovecz’s design for the national pantheon

Why do we need a pantheon on Gellért Hill? Because, for some strange reason, for the last couple of centuries the idea has persisted that the hill is “the heart of the nation.” The idea of making the Gellért Hill a national sacred place was born in the 1840s, starting with an essay by István Széchenyi. Several similar plans were advanced throughout the nineteenth century.

In fact, the pantheon came close to being built. In 1906 the young architect István Medgyaszay (1877-1959) won the commission to design a national pantheon to replace the Citadel, which the military had left only in 1897. His design most likely inspired Makovecz. As Makovecz explained, this national pantheon would “memorialize all the important Hungarian historical characters from our King Árpád to our day. Just think what this place would look like on All Saint’s Day. Half the country would be here.”

The government’s open invitation for a remake of the Gellért Hill shows the scope of the project: the revitalization of both the park and the architecture of the area. The most important goal is to make good use of the Citadel, to give it some function in addition to filling the hill with “spiritual and sanctified content.”

There is no doubt in my mind that the government is planning to erect a pantheon along the lines of Makovecz’s design and that one of his disciples will be named chief architect. As for the Statue of Liberty, it is not mentioned in the invitation, but I can’t imagine that the present Hungarian government would allow the Statue of Liberty to stand next to the National Pantheon.

Even as the fight over the Városliget continues, the government is already preparing for the next war with the population of Budapest.

July 18, 2016
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Member

That church only needs the Eye of Sauron on the top. It looks like a big black vagina. Labium Hungaricum. Amen.

Member

OMG. It does look like that. LOL

Latefor
Guest

And what’s wrong with a vagina, “Some1”?
A female is a masterpiece of God. PERIOD.

Guest

Here I have to agree with you!
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pi-Chac%C3%A1n

And totally OT, but maybe interesting for all the girls/women here:

There’s a “period” shop in NYC inspired by a very interesting young female US performer Kiran Gandhi (sic!):
https://kirangandhi.com/2016/05/15/the-first-ever-period-shop/

Guest

Correction:

Of course only if we replace “god” (which one btw?) by EVOLUTION!
That wiki on the stone vagina sculpture in my hometown also describes a very funny accident that made it around the world – so be careful, boys! Vaginas can be dangerous …

bimbi
Guest

Look guys, I am not being pedantic but please give what you are eagerly talking about the right name. The right name is v u l v a. Got it? Remember it is rather difficult to see a whole vagina (unless you are doing an autopsy) after all, the word comes from the Latin for “sheath”. Let us also remember that neither of these works of nature have anything to do with Mr. Makovecz – if they had, can you imagine what they might have looked like?

Guest

You’re right of course – I just couldn’t resist latefor’s “invitation” …

Latefor
Guest

Let us call it “magic pussy” to avoid misunderstanding. 🙂

Member

You won! LOL

Latefor
Guest

He must’ve got his inspiration from the top of the Paks Hill, overlooking the majestic Nuclear Power Plant. Maybe he was a sex maniac who loved the shape of the vagina. One never knows what was in his mind when he designed this church. It is really up to us to see what we want to see.

Member

The buildings Makovecz designed belong to children’s fairy tale books as illustrations, with the witches and dragons, they are childish, scary and ugly.
I am an architectural designer for over 45 years and I have at list an inkling about aesthetics in building design, but with Makovecz, you don’t even have to know what is nice. As soon as you see his buildings, you know immediately what isn’t.

Guest

London Calling!

Goodness!

I think Makovecz must have designed the ‘My Little Pony’ stables and been retained by Hasbro.

Doesn’t look good for the Városliget – but I haven’t studied the plans that closely.

It’s a real shame that Hungary’s architectural history is being contaminated with such juvenile architecture.

However it’s probably considered high art by juvenile ignoramuses like Latefor who only seems to comment when genitalia are involved – or introduced by her. Someone who claims to be a Christian too.

Can’t you go back and play with your Barbie doll and My Little Pony’?

Guest

………?? And your bible?

petofi
Guest

Listen, Charlie, if you spent as much time in a hot-tub as Latefor, you’d know where to find yours and have fun, too-

Latefor
Guest

@petofi;
I’m lucky enough not to surrender myself with dirty old men!

Guest

‘My Little Pony’ also is our granddaughter’s favourite – though slowly she’s growing out of it.
But her room is still filled with lots of plastic crap in garish colours.

But for adults that style is horrendous!

Latefor
Guest

@Charlie & petofi
I was secretly hoping that you would finally recognise my talents, but no cigars! How unfortunate!
You see, my real strength lies in defence. I’m patient and I do not often miscalculate. I can hardly wait for the moment when I can finally trap you in my wasps nest.
Dom Perignon will be served, with the finest Russian caviar. Hmm . . . I can already taste the sweet victory . . . it tastes so good . . . yummy!
As far as Makovecz is concerned, he is considered by notable experts as the Hungarian Gaudi. He’s original. He’s fearless. Accept it. Embrace it.

No amount of anti-Hungarianism could destroy his brilliance. Let it go!

Guest

Completely O/T

Victorlae Orbanescu’s bosom pal – the Russian one not Erdoğan – is about to go ballistic!

The rest of his Olympians are about to be banned from the Olympics due to gross application of drugs and widespread cynical cheating .

Apparently he threw his toys out of the pram because results weren’t good enough so the drug-testing regime for the Sochi games was slightly changed to Russia’s advantage.

Comprehensive doping across 30 sports. 30!!!!!!

Surely Orban is cleverer than this? So the trolls tell us?

I know it’s starting from quite a low base – but I even think even he might be slightly cleverer.

But of a bummer, his hero being caught – but Orban needs to do something radical for his athletes and footballers?

No Russians at Rio! Sounds like a calypso!!!

No Russians at Rio! Ha! Ha!.HAaaaaaaaa! No Russians at Rio! H AAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Oh! Sto…… HAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa stop pleeeeeeeees No Russians at Rio! .HAAaaaaaaaaàa ……Haaaaaaaa. STOPPPP!!!!!……. Haaaaaaaaaaaàaaàaaa……No Russians at Rio!

No Russians at Rio!

Classic!

Live long and prosper
Guest
Live long and prosper

I find this church beautiful and I also don’t see why we should consider the opinions of an artist when contemplating his or her work. Unless we fear to be swayed by the artist’s immoral intent to subvert our own views. There are objects in Hungary which I find really ugly (the controversial and childishly kitsch piece in the city centre depicting the German eagle attacking the innocent Hungarian Gabriel) or abhorrent (the turul birds generally offend me as a symbol of Hungary’s pathetically imagined greatness) or ridiculous (the Felcut stadium is an absurdly extravagant – and paid for with EU tax payers money – monument to the PM’s overinflated ego), but this church and other examples of his work I find mesmerising – I particularly like his originality in the unexpected curves and fantastical drama of the elevations. I do not know, for example, what were Gaudi’s political opinions, and I don’t care, I just love his artistic expression.

Guest

Gaudi did his work a hundred years ago and yes, it was one of the highlights of my several visits to Barcelona.

But this?

bimbi
Guest

God knows, (yuck, yuck) that I am anti-church but Makovecz was no Gaudi!

Guest

Its an insult to Gaudi to include him in the same post as Makovecz. Gaudi’s style was an improvement on nature and his context unbelievably original. Makovecz’ ‘creations’ are badly inspired from the covers of sci-fi books it seems and are an abomination.

Guest
Antoni Gaudi was fed up with being shafted by his ‘clients’ and so worked only on his religious masterpiece – living in the Sagrada Familia to keep costs down. Btw he only ‘took over’ building the cathedral from the originating architect. He could only progress his wonderful masterpiece by raising enough funds to pay for materials until they ran out – and he would then fund raise, then build, then fund raise…..then build…. When one of his friends wondered when it would be finished he replied: “My client is in no hurry.” That is why no one knows to this day when the Sagrada Familia will be finished – it is only progressed as much as donations will allow – although the Spanish government has tried to give a finish date which no one believes. Poor Gaudi was run over by a tram on his way to church one Sunday in 1926 – his own church had yet to be consecrated – and he died slowly in a poor hospital without being recognised. However he was recognised eventually and given a decent burial. Many of his works can be seen just by wandering around Barcelona – and Park Güell is… Read more »
Tyrker
Guest

The national pantheon looks hideous but the church is beautiful.

bimbi
Guest

Sure, it looks like one o’ them Trident missiles that Brexit Britain has just re-confirmed as essential for every modern state (and to confirm it PM Theresa May is prepared to burn 100,000 people to prove her point). Looks like she is vying to be the Poster Girl for ISIL’s suicide bomber recruitment – ya gotta be able to back up what you believe in! Nice touch that Makovecz carefully places the cross (Onward Christian Soldiers) well above that crescent thing down below…

NWO
Guest

Terrible. My bedroom has a completely unobstructed view of the Statue of Liberty and the hill. Having to get up in the morning (when in Budapest) and look at another new architectural monstrosity of the Orban era might be too much. Would be time to sell before the view instead of enhancing value of the property would diminish it. BTW, is it only me, but I feel so much of Makovecz and acolytes design look like crappy set design for a Wagner opera.

Member

Prime Minister Orbán on a flight from Munich last night:

comment image

PALIKA
Guest

He looks very unhealthy. He is probably 20 kgs overweight. His taste in garments is pretty lamentable.

Istvan
Guest

Unfortunately Orban’s pudgy appearance is close to the norm for Hungarian males his age and younger (see http://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2458-14-798 ). The USA is little better really.

On my last visit to Hungary my youngest daughter, who at time was a US Army reserve Captain and will soon be a Major made fun of the pudgy Hungarian boys who tried to pick her up while out dancing in Budapest with our cousins. The truth is PM Orban’s appearance is I think designed to enhance his oneness with his constituency. Not everyone however can maintain the level of physical conditioning my daughter does, she even makes fun of me when we are out running. Will see how she does in her late 60s.

Guest

This id gettin a bit OT, but still …

Istvan, hope you don’t mind me telling one of my favourite jokes:

How do you recognize a real Hungarian?

It’s easier to jump over him than to walk around him …

Unforzunately this is true also for too many young Germans and even more Anericans – my wife got a real shock when we travelled to the USA the first time.

She helps me get a healthy diet – which is really easy in Hungary right now – so many fresh vegetables and fruit available at good prices, we even grow some ourselves and get a lot from the neighbours too …

And of course you now can get delicacies from all around the world too – it doesn’t have to be pacal and szalonna every day any more!

Member

Classy!

Latefor
Guest

OK . . . but he still looks hot!

Guest

You made my day!

And also I almost spilled my beer from laughing out loud …

petofi
Guest

(Hurry back to the hot-tub, Latefor!)

petofi
Guest

In this posture, and this state of dress…I don’t think Orban is on a commercial plane…

Guest

Profile of a Wannabe King.

Guest

Re: church at Jak

I can see why VO likes Makovecz ‘s modernistic Magyar steampunk creations. Melds the modern country with the ancient motifs especially with the church at Jak built in communist times. But I couldn’t help noticing the sickle on top of one of the steeples. His orientation to that kind of art suggests to me that he liked the fact that it was a plus for Christianity under communist domination and at the same time understanding that some symbolic obeisance was given to the ‘overseers’. The steeple and community got the sickle as a sop. In art we can see how a government and artists maneuver in the game.

Guest

I like your observation that Makovecz’ arechitecture looks like steampunk. It probably has the same sources of inspiration as steampunk such as catalogs from early world exhibitions. The pavillions in those exhibitions were ususally torn down after the exhibition.

Guest

The “sickle on the top of one of the steeples” is not a sickle but a crescent as noted by bimbi. They look alike but in heraldics a sickle is accompanied by a hammer (Communist emblem) whereas a crescent is accompanied by either a star (Turkish flag) or a sun (Medieval Christian heraldics). The left steeple of the Paks church clearly carries a sun.

Guest

That’s right. Have to say I did wonder where that hammer was! With the track I was on I thought the Soviets with their ‘go’ for the Makovecz church that they decided to er go ‘light’ on the symbol considering its associations.

Member

OT: Two news today: 1. The fair and square victory of Fidesz in 2010….. It turns out that in 2014 for the election in the city of Baja (about 37,000 people) the population suddenly grew with about 1400 people. This number is very much contrary to previous 6 year’s trend, where the population decreased 100+ person/per year. Now they try t find out what caused this sudden population growth.
2. Pal Schmidt (the ex-President of Hungary, who Orban defended until the end, than “reimbursed” after he had to go) made it the to 5 on CNN’s 10 instances when political figures plagiarized list.
http://edition.cnn.com/2016/07/19/politics/politicians-plagiarism/index.html

csekonics
Guest
“The Pantheon” will a bit like the “German Holocaust” memorial at Szabadsag ter, only 50 times bigger. Tasteless, ugly and a huge lie about Hungarian history. But one thing is sure, when the left wing gets into power (a long time from now) it will keep these monstrosities all over Budapest. Why? Because the leftists are afraid of any conflicts. They are wussies. They have no principles and can be bought off cheaply. There was not and there is no unified resistance against the Castle Hill Liget Project on the political left wing when 80% of the Budapest voters are against it. This laziness is really unbelievable. The resistance is being waged only by politically unaffiliated activists. As far as the mainstream left wing is concerned, the project is just fine. MSZP and the rest will get a cut from the construction projects and that will do. Fidesz is castrating Budapest, it is humiliating Budapest, its citizens, but the left wing continues to be impotent. The symbolic war is being waged and the right wing is winning. The left wing has no clue, no ideas, nothing. It has Peter Gyorgy and similar morally bankrupt “experts”. As a result the left… Read more »
tappanch
Guest

“Orban wants to see only pro-government media”

“Orban’s men steal everything at an incredible pace”

Interview with Csaba Schlecht of the Ibrahim Kaya [in]fame.
[an early, 1997 Fidesz fraud], who is now on the side of Simicska.

https://www.mediapiac.com/mediapiac/Schlecht-Csaba-Persze-Lajos/112685/

Observer
Guest

Makovetsz was a pretty unsavory person and dyed in the wool reactionary/fascist.

His style look pretty kitschy and ugly to me, but it is a style. There are other ugly curiosity building – е.г. Centre Pompidou. To me Makovetsz would fit Connan the Barbarian 2 set, or some comics book.

Architects told me that his complicated roof structures buildings were poorly designed technically with water ingress being the worst problem as witnesses by the condition of many buildings.

It seems the National Theater kitsch hit, can be surpassed by another king size kitsch. After all OV is all kitsch.

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