That’s how the thousand-year-old Hungary celebrated

1896 was the year of the Millennium definitely. The whole country was in a fever. Special and exciting events followed one another: inauguration of the Vígszínház and the Museum of Applied Arts, launch of the Underground, Árpád Feszty’s cyclorama and the New York Coffee House on the grand boulevard (Nagykörút) were also ready. There were places for entertainment as well, for example ‘Ős Budavára’ (Ancient Buda Castle) was a famous hall in the era, where elated moments were not only due to alcohol. Adventure-seekers could admire the urbanizing Budapest in Louis Godard’s hot-air balloon from above. Our gallery includes the pavilion of the Transport Museum, Grand Duke Joseph’s pavilion and the Trade Hall, which cannot be seen anymore, but its base and flooring was reused and a famous youth leisure centre of Budapest operated on its place until 2015. It was not only the capital city that celebrated. On the occasion of the millennial feasts, memorial monuments were erected on seven places that were significant regarding the Hungarian state founding, for example: Zimony (Zemun), Brassó (Brasov) and Pannonhalma.

It began with chime of bells

The high spot of the feast was the Millennial Thousand-Year-Old National Exhibition between 2 May and 3 November 1896, which was inaugurated by the king on 2 May, while the bells were chiming. The following days were also busy. On Vérmező on 5 May, 17 thousand soldiers participated in the parade under arms. On 6 June, the Saint Crown was taken from the Royal Palace to Matthias Church, escorted by supreme dignitaries of Hungary and armed corps. It is likely that the first newsreel made by the Sziklay brothers – Arnold and Zsigmond – and Mr. Therm, a technician of the Lumière factory, reported about this event.


240 pavilions were built rapidly – they were dismountable buildings, not shaky huts.

Surprisingly, Vajdahunyad Castle (Group of Historical Buildings) was made out of wood originally, and later it was rebuilt out of lasting materials. The essence of the exhibition was to introduce past, present and future together. In the plot, there are thematic units, according to which the pavilions were arranged. The outfits of buildings usually hinted at the topics they represented. The exhibition of the past was introduced in Vajdahunyad Castle that consisted of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque building units. They even paid attention to the authenticity of contemporary occupations. The ethnographic shows that represented different regions, like ‘skanzen’ buildings (open-air ethnographic museums), were important parts of the exposition.

Ezredéves Kiállítás épületei 1896 -	Magyar Kereskedelmi és Vendéglátóipari Múzeum, CC BY-NC-NDThere were two different areas: the Historical exhibition that introduced the past and the Contemporary exhibition that consisted of 20 groups. The Trade Hall was standing in the central position of the event, symbolising the present, the economic and industrial progress. It was situated on the place of today’s Petőfi Csarnok (Petőfi Hall, a famous youth leisure centre) and the meadow in front of it. (When constructing Petőfi Hall, the remainder base and flooring of the Trade Hall were also reused.)

The largest pavilions that were built by the exhibition of 1885 were the Trade Hall, the Ganz pavilion, the Transport Museum and the above-mentioned Group of Historical Buildings.

Making permanent from temporary

Ezredéves Kiállítás épületei 1896 - 	Magyar Kereskedelmi és Vendéglátóipari Múzeum, CC BY-NC-NDThe majority of the temporary buildings disappeared before the turn of the century, but the Ancient Buda Castle was closed only in 1907. Fortunately, the main Historical building group also survived, due to their popularity and to the lobbying of its designer Ignác Alpár. It was rebuilt from lasting materials in 1906.


Unfortunately, the Transport Museum was not that lucky, though it was one of the most stateful buildings of the event. The sizes of the romanticist and eclectic-style building would have fitted to a cathedral, with its glass windows made by Miksa Róth. After the millennial exhibition, one of the first technical and transport museums of the Continent was equipped here as of 1899.
Steiner Szilárd üvegnegatívjai, Közlekedési Múzeum- 	Kuny Domokos Múzeum, CC BY It lived 45 years as the Hungarian Royal Transport Museum – focusing on Hungarian navigation and railway mainly – and then two bombs hit it during the WWII. For a long period nothing happened, its demolition was ordered, but finally it was reopened. According to the fashion of the era, it was curtailed and deprived of its typical neo-renaissance appearance: its dome and towers were pulled down. Nowadays, the museum is facing new changes. It will be renovated in its original state in the frame of the Liget Budapest Project. While this project is under realisation, you can browse the contemporary photos of Ferenc Pfaff’s compelling building.




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