Roman architectural styles

December 17, 2014

Architecture in the Roman Empire was a social art, meant to benefit the community. Many innovations by the Romans were influenced by this purpose, and soon a new architectural style was born. Examples include roads, aqueducts, baths, basilicas and amphitheaters.

The Roman Empire once covered a major part of today's Hungary and there are many Roman ruins throughout the country. One of the main settlements was Aquincum, the ancestor of Budapest, located in the area known today as Óbuda. Aquincum consisted of two key districts: a military camp and a civilian settlement. To give you an idea of Aquincum's size, today it takes four stops on the Suburban Railway (HÉV) to travel between these two areas. Remains include ruins of an amphitheater (with an arena that is larger than the arena of the Colosseum in Rome), mosaic floors, tombstones, statues and a bath complex (Thermae Maiores). While it's nothing like Rome, if you are into ancient history, it's worth visiting Aquincum.

Gothic & Neo-Gothic in Budapest

Matthias Church

Gothic architecture saw the creation of soaring arches to draw the spirit of man up to heaven. Its characteristics include the pointed arch, the ribbed vault and the flying buttress. It is in the great churches, cathedrals, abbeys and in a number of civic buildings that the Gothic style was expressed most powerfully.

Sadly, there aren't many original Gothic-style buildings in Budapest. The few remaining ones can be found in the Castle District. Buildings to look for are No. 18, 20 and 22 on Országház utca, which date back to the 14th century and No. 31 Úri utca, that has a Gothic façade that dates back to the 15th century. Another building with Gothic remains is the the Inner City Parish Church in Pest. The most characteristic Gothic-style buildings are actually Neo-Gothic, like the Parliament Building and Matthias Church, where much of the original material was used.

Ottoman (Turkish) Architecture in Budapest

Király Baths

During the Turkish occupation (1541-1686), multiple mosques and baths were built in Buda. These were great examples of Ottoman architecture, which was influenced by Iranian, and to a larger extent, Byzantine architecture as well as Islamic traditions. It's a mixture of the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

Budapest is in fact one of the few places in the world with functioning original Turkish bathhouses dating back to the 16th century. Another little known fact is that Budapest is home to the northernmost holy place of Islam, the burial place of a Turkish dervish called Gül Baba.

Baroque & Neo-Baroque in Budapest

Széchenyi Baths

The Baroque style designated the dominant style of art in catholic countries from the 17th century to the 18th century. Baroque originated in Rome and its success was encouraged by the Roman Catholic Church. It fit the church's demands for an architectural style to communicate religious themes by appealing to the senses, often in dramatic ways. It also made a visible statement of the wealth and power of the Church. The emphasis was on colonnades, domes and the use of light-and-shade with qualities of richness, drama, vitality, movement, tension and emotional exuberance.

There are many Baroque-style buildings in Budapest and Hungary and one of the finest examples of original Baroque-style architecture is the Church of St. Anna in Batthyhány tér. An interesting part of Budapest is the less touristy Óbuda, which also has some beautiful historic buildings with original Baroque façades. The Castle District is another place to visit where the Holy Trinity Column, the National Dance Theater, the Royal Palace and many other buildings were built in Baroque style.

Classicism & Neo-Classicism in Budapest

Hungarian National Museum

Classicism puts emphasis on symmetry, proportion and geometry. The style is principally derived from the architecture of Ancient Rome, of which many examples remained.

Budapest Architecture Budapest Architecture Budapest Architecture
Roman Architecture and statues in Rome, Italy
Roman Architecture and statues in Rome, Italy
Ancient Roman architecture
Ancient Roman architecture
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