What only birds see - simply the building with the most beautiful roof in Budapest
On a quiet leafy street near to the Hungarian Parliament you will discover an art nouveau masterpiece in the form of the old Postal Savings Bank, today the National Bank’s Treasury. The colours of its facade have faded a bit, and the glint has been lost a little from its fretted ballusters, but it’s still a marvel. The building was the work of the Hungarian architect Ödön Lechner, often called the „Hungarian Gaudi” as well, responsible also for the fanciful, green-capped Museum of Applied Arts, as well as numerous other stand-out building across Budapest and Hungary. The Postal Savings Bank, built between 1889 and 1901, however, is often considered to be the best example of his work.
The Hungarian Royal Postal Savings Bank was founded in 1885, and its establishment was a notable step in facilitating investments for the middle classes, as public servants, workers and farmers in Hungary. The building’s design refers on this programme of the bank: diligent bees, symbols of frugality adorn the facade and the pillars, making their ways towards the hives made from ceramic. Certainly, the bees are from majolica as well! The motif repeats itself on the captions of the courtyard, and also inside everywhere. On the facade one can see not just bees, but snakes, hens, dragons, as depictions of real and imaginary creatures too. The tallest tower in the middle of the building’s roof boast with two bulls, copies from the drinking bowls of the famous golden treasure of Nagyszentmiklós (23 early medieval gold vessels, in total weighing 9.945 kg, found in 1799 in Transylvania), cast from saffron hue Zsolnay ceramic.
Ödön Lechner’s hair turned already in grey, when he created this building, and quoting his own words: „ really started to work”. Postal Saving Bank’s building – dislike other works of Lechner – does not invoke so much oriental elements.With its ornamentic and folk motifs it establishes a different, unique, Hungarian secession style. When asked, why he made so much effort into designing this enchanting tile pattern of the roof, when nobody can see it, Lechner’s answer said: „the birds would..”