Gresham Palace in Budapest
Gresham Palace or Gresham-palota, located in Budapest, Hungary, is an example of Art Nouveau architecture in Central Europe. Built during the early 1900s, it is now owned by an Irish company, Quinlan Private, and managed by Four Seasons Hotels.
The site was once occupied by Nako House, a neo-classical palace built during 1827. During 1880, the London-based Gresham Life Assurance Company bought the property, at a time when it was illegal to invest money in stocks, but rental income was a wise investment. The company later decided to build its foreign headquarters on the site, and decided that they needed a grander setting for them. They commissioned local architect Zsigmond Quittner to design the new structure, and during 1904, they began construction of the Gresham Palace, which was completed during 1906.
Originally, the palace served as an office building as well as a home for wealthy British aristocrats associated with the Gresham company. During World War II, Soviet soldiers resided in the extravagant palace. Eventually, it became decrepit and was used as an apartment building during the People's Republic of Hungary. When democracy was restored, the national government presented the palace to the city of Budapest. During 2001, it was bought by the Four Seasons hotel company, and was activated soon after as a luxurious hotel. Original details restored by Quinlan Private include a large staircase, stained glass, mosaics, ironwork and wintergardens.
Gresham Palace is a good example of Art Nouveau architecture, especially in the manner of the Vienna Secessionists. Secessionists generally used relatively little ornament, and emphasized architectural form. The Gresham Palace exemplifies this style with its smooth façade that attracts attention mainly to the curved roofline, the bay windows and the pilasters along the front of the building. The palace also features beautiful ironwork, including two magnificent peacock sculptures at the gate of the courtyard, which are typical of Art Nouveau.