Totally unexpected, and not what we came for, but we found a whole range of interesting architecture in Kecskemet.
On our way to Szeged, in the south of Hungary, we pass Kecskemet. And because this town has a museum of naïve art, not unattractive from the photos we have seen, we decide to get off the main road, into the centre. Where we manage to locate the museum. Which is closed – the time table on the door it says it is open, but it isn’t. Did I say earlier that this is not our trip?
In search of coffee and cake – you have to do something, don’t you, if you get off the main road? – we wander further into town. It turns out to have an attractive centre, with a variety of attractive, and less attractive, buildings along a long stretch of park, or tree covered walking path, partly car-free.
The most extravagant building by far is the Cifra Palace, built in 1902, and probably an old hotel. Variously called Art Nouveau or (Hungarian) Secessionist, the outside is colourfully decorated and topped with two mushroom-like figures. Love it or loth it, it is definitely something else.
Another remarkable building is the Calvinist College, built in 1911-1913, is called an example of National Romanticism, rooted in rural Hungarian and Transylvanian architecture. Whatever. It is a starkly rectangular building – contrasting with the Cifra Palace across the road – with the type of decorations we have come to appreciate from that time, pillar-like figures, square balconies, yet rounded corner structures, a statement.
And in fact, all along the central axis of town we find further examples of Art Nouveau buildings, mostly well maintained, with attractive windows, doors, decorations – the time that people still cared about how the building looked. In sharp contrast to the Communist-era mono-blocks, which, of course, are also present in town, albeit a bit further away from the centre. And which, as you know by now, keep on fascinating me, as well.
Now, on to Szeged.