Schulek, Frigyes

(Pest, November 19th, 1841 – Balatonlelle, September 5th, 1919)

Schulek, Frigyes

He commenced his university studies at József Technical University of Buda, Web link then he studied at Academy of Arts in Vienna. Web link He became member of the "Wiener Bauhütte" where, under the influence of Friedrich von Schmidt, his interest turned to the architecture of the Middle Ages. His first professional success was the survey of the Regensburg cathedral. After that work he visited Paris and Itally.

From 1871, after returning to Hungary he taught architectural drawing at the Budapest Art School, but soon became colleague of Imre Steindl and took part in planning the New City Hall of Pest.

The following year he was appointed the architect of the Provisional Committee of Monuments, later National Committee of Monuments, founded in 1872, and at the same time he was the chief professional organiser of the reconstruction of medieval monuments.

His life-work mainly consists of the reconstruction of monuments which he performed according to the purist principles generally followed in his era. He took part in the reconstruction of numerous castles and participated in the restoration of a series of medieval churches. He was given his most significant task in 1873 which was the reconstruction of the Virgin Mary Church in the Buda Castle, today's Matthias Church.

Between 1874 and 1896 Schulek did not simply reconstructed the Gothic church built in the 13th century and rebuilt in the 14th and 15th century, but he practically built it again. He exposed the different phases of the original condition in the course of a thorough field-survey, but he did not conserve the remains, but, unlike the contemporary practice, he removed them and had them built again.

He did not restore the building to its state in one of its distinguished periods, but, with the exception of the most important phases of construction, he eliminated the traces of interventions. He preferred reconstruction to preservation and replaced the parts which could not be documented with his own designs. Everything that can be seen on the building is almost entirely due to the Schulek period, made taking into consideration the aspects of millenary representation.

His other restorations include the town hall of Lőcse (now Levoca, Slovakia) and churches at Ákos (now Acâs, Romania), Karcsa and Pozsony (now Bratislava, Slovakia).

Of the few buildings Schulek designed himself most are in the Romanesque Revival style.
These include first of all the Calvinist church (1880–83) in Szeged, which represents an important stage in developing a Protestant type of church of central character.

His most significant and most known work is in connection with the reconstruction of the Matthias Church. In order to create worthy architectural surroundings he gave the Fishermen's Bastion an edifice of Romanesque style where an open stairway led from the side of the castle. The Fishermen's Bastion was built between 1895 and 1903, the statue of Saint Stephen next to it was erected in 1906.

The Votive Church in Szeged, an axial, twin-towered and domed structure with red-brick façades and white stone trimmings, was designed in 1909 but not built until 1924–30, with modified designs by Ernő Foerk (1868–1934).

The hill-top look-out tower (1908–10) was built at Jánoshegy, Budapest.

In 1903 Schulek succeeded Steindl at the department of medieval architecture of the József Technical University, a post he held until 1913. From then on he was engaged in lecturing there first of all.

Memberships: External member of the Archaeological Committee of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences Web link (1890); correspondent (1895) and honorary (1917) member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences; honorary member of the Hungarian Association of Engineers and Architects (1911).

Honours: Honorary doctor of the József Technical University (1914); Francis Joseph Order; Literis et Artibus Medal.