Sándor Palace, Budapest
South-eastern side of the palace
|Construction started||around 1803|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||Mihály Pollack and Johann Aman|
The Sándor Palace ("Alexander Palace", Hungarian: Sándorpalota) in Budapest, Hungary is the official residence of the President of Hungary and the seat of the Office of the President, both since January 22, 2003. Sándor Palace is the 37th biggest palace in present-day Hungary.
The original palace was built in about 1803, and completed in about 1806. Its commissioner was Count Vincent Sándor, and the palace was named after him. However, it was not Vincent Sándor, who was more of a philosopher, but his son, Móric Sándor, that was better known in Budapest and Vienna, with his fame for acrobatic jousts.
The palace belonged to Archduke Albrecht, the Imperial Governor of Hungary, until the failed Hungarian Revolution of 1848, when the palace, and its adjacent buildings facing the square, were rented as government offices. The most prestigious tenant was the Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Andrassy, who in 1867 leased it for the Hungarian government from the Pallavicini family. He would later obtain ownership rights for the building following a property swap.
Andrassy renovated the building, which by then was badly in need of repair, with the help of the architect Miklós Ybl. He renovated the ground floor and used it as his offices, while the first floor became his residence. In all, nineteen Hungarian Prime Ministers lived in the palace, each adapting the building to his own tastes.
Destruction in the Second World War
After Hungary became independent in 1919, Sándor Palace continued as the Prime Minister's residence right up until the Second World War. In 1941, during the war, the grief-stricken Pál Teleki committed suicide in the palace. Less than four years later, Allied aircraft bombed Sándor Palace, and the building was left as a miserable heap of stones. Anything in the palace that was of value was taken away as war bounty. Although the ruins did not fall victim to the bulldozer, the palace remained neglected until the Revolutions of 1989.
Following the change of the political system in Hungary in 1989, and thanks to a devoted team of restoration workers, a roof was erected over the ruins and the walls were supported. Over the years, Sándor Palace was gradually restored to its former glory and the interior was renovated in 2002. Most of the furnishings and objects were replicas of the originals that had been destroyed.
The restoration was conducted on the basis of the original blueprints, which were recovered in 1983, and the detailed history of contemporary maps.
The south-west side of the palace, which faces the street, has a pair of light green doors with the words Köztársasági Elnöki Hivatal (Hungarian: President of the Republic's Office) immediately above them. On the iron balustrade on the first floor, immediately above the doors, is the modern coat of arms of Hungary, flanked by the Hungarian and European Union flags.
On the south-east side of the palace, there is a similar pair of light green doors, but with no words immediately above them. On the iron balustrade above these doors, the Hungarian and EU flags appear alongside the old Hungarian coat of arms, which shows Hungary quartered with Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Fiume and Transylvania. Above the first floor on the south-east side is a tympanum, in imitation of Graeco-Roman architecture, with the Roman numeral MDCCCVI on it (1806, the year of the completion of the original palace).
Visitors can enter the building by way of the southern main gate and the main staircase. The staircase has a mellow glistening surface and elegant gold-plated cast iron railings.
The entrance lobby is decorated with simple striped damask tapestries, and the walls are lined with biedermeier chairs, in accordance with function.
The Round Salon has white-painted walls and the floor is an identical replica of the original designed in 1928 by Rezső Hikisch. The ceiling adorned with stuccoes, the objects and the statues in their tabernacles have all been placed or reintroduced in their near-to-original state.
The Small Empire Salon once linked the private and public parts of the palace. Today the Hungarian President uses this room for informal meetings. A recently found series of panes of mythological figures painted by Károly Lotz were placed on the walls as a frieze, and an octagonal picture of a goddess was placed on the ceiling.
The Blue Salon, or Gobelin Hall, is the most exquisite room in the palace, with its baroque-style furniture. It is used for larger meetings.
The Red Salon, or Maria Theresa Salon, is the most elegant room in the palace. It used to have a portrait of Empress Maria Theresa on the wall, which has since gone missing. Its place is now occupied by a portrait of the Empress wearing the dress she wore on the day when she was crowned Queen of Hungary. The stuccoes in the room were designed by Miklós Ybl. The room was especially tailored in memory of the Reconciliation between the monarch and the government, which is why portraits of Hungarian Presidents and Prime Ministers are hung in other rooms in the palace.
The lavish Hall of Mirrors is used by the President of Hungary for very formal events, such as the reception of ambassadors.
The President's Conference Room is located in the south-west corner of the palace. It has views overlooking the Danube and Buda Castle. It was entirely reconstructed in the 1990s after the original room was destroyed.
The President's Study, based on a 1920s design, was originally the Ministers' Waiting Room. Portraits of former Hungarian Prime Ministers line the walls.
The Tea Salon has a window overlooking the central courtyard. On its walls are portraits of the jouster Móric Sándor.
The Knights' Hall, in the north-east corner of the palace, was formerly used as the stables. The red stone horse troughs still survive. The room was later used for press conferences, and is still sometimes used for this purpose today.
The palace is occasionally open to the public at weekends during the summer months, and sometimes hosts exhibitions about the Hungarian political system.