A Bravado of Heritage Protection

The facelifting of the Synagogue in Szeged

Architects: Péter Wagner, Tamás Kőnig
Text: György Szegő
Photos: Balázs Danyi

There was no Crystal Night in Hungary, which means that more than 40 synagogues and ceremonial buildings designed and built by Lipót Baumhorn (1860–1932) could survive in Central Europe. The synagogues built in his age which was also the so-called golden era of architecture at the past turn of the century are gradually recognized by the generations in his wake although the buildings rapidly deteriorated as after the holocaust they suffered from the lack of their communities. They are restored one by one now in the historic area of Hungary. The most recent examples of this trend are found in Subotica (SRB) and Szeged, although the latter has been facelifted only on the exterior. The external design of the building is focussed on a leitmotif, which is an elevated arch of a dome seated on a high drum. The cupola has a wide lantern divided into two levels. The roofing is ribbed with a Gothic tracery. For the architects of the period it was a typical solution for creating the characteristic mass of the high synagogue to set a dome rising from the central block. Its commissioner had all the names of the artists, the artisans and craftsman carved into a memorial tablet. Some twenty years after the start of the restoration, in 2018 the project got to the stage when the highly articulated roof and exterior wall surfaces, the drain and sewage system, the openings, the plinths and the stairways were completely facelifted according to the comprehensive surveying analysis made in 1999. This gives grounds for hope that the enormous works on the exterior shall protect the marvellous interiors graced by magnificent frescoes and stained glass windows from further deterioration.

General design: Kőnig és Wagner Építészek Kft.
Leading architects: Tamás Kőnig DLA, Péter Wagner DLA
Architects: Ádám Rimely, Ágnes Holtság
Structure: Dr. Miklós Kézdi
HVAC: Péter Erhardt
Electrical engineering: Márton Taraj
Garden: Ágnes Holtság
Fire protection: Róbert Kováts
Art historian: Ferenc Dávid
Advisors: Endre Gaál, Vilmos Osgyáni
Experts: Dr. Miklós Kézdi, Antal Lenkei, Dr. Miklós Gálos, Dr. Balázs Szemerey Kis, József Devescovi
Client: Magyarországi Zsidó Hitközségek Szövetsége
Project management: Mcmillan & Baneth Kft.