Diversity of Styles and Building Types in the 19th Century

New building types in Slovakia emerged already at the beginning of the 19th century. However, the real building boom started in the second half of the century, when Slovakia became the most industrial part of the Kingdom of Hungary. New buildings appeared due to long periods of peace and because of the increasing investment activities of the bourgeoisie, townspeople and the state administration. During this period, modernisation of Slovak towns continued. The last remains of town fortifications were disappearing. Infrastructure in the towns began to develop – sewer systems, water pipes, street lighting – as well as public buildings – redoubts, theatres and hospitals. Development of railway transportation encouraged construction of railway stations’ networks. These buildings especially drew inspiration from historic Renaissance architecture. However, they did not just copy the Renaissance style; they were more like imitations with Baroque and Classical motives. The Jonáš Záborský Theatre in Prešov (M. Repaszký, 1881) and the Town Theatre in Levoča (Müller, 1883) were built as neo-Renaissance palaces. Modest Renaissance architecture was also used for the first railway station in Bratislava designed by well-known local architect Ignác Feigler Jr. (1871). Even the first architect of Slovak origin, Ján Nepomuk Bobula, was inspired by a Renaissance palace when designing the first building of the Matica Slovenská (1864) – the scientific and cultural institution focusing on topics of the Slovak nation. The large town theatres in Trnava (B. Grünn, 1831), in Bratislava (F. Fellner, H. Hellmer, 1886), and in Košice (A. Lang, A. Steinhardt, 1899) used rich Baroque forms. The theatre in Bratislava built at the site of the original classical building by Matthias Walch was designed by Fellner & Helmer – one of the most important architecture studios in the then monarchy. These architects designed many theatre buildings in the former Austria-Hungary. Almost three decades later, another important city building was built in the same neo-baroque style, the redoubt Reduta (1913), located near the city theatre. It was designed by equally famous architects from Budapest – Dezider Jakab and Marcel Komor. It looked like a historical building on the outside; however, its structure was modern.
In 1810, in the ironworks in Hronec, cast iron was used as a building construction material for the first time in the Kingdom of Hungary. The discovery of cast iron as a construction material also encouraged the building boom. Cast-iron structures were initially used to build bridges. Later, cast iron appeared in the form of columns or beams in industrial buildings, as well as in public buildings, when a bigger space with reduced supports was required. Ignác Feigler Jr. used cast-iron columns when building a two-storey female gallery in the former orthodox synagogue in Bratislava (1864); and Blažej Bulla used them in the interior of the evangelical church in Dolný Kubín (1894). However, in the first decade of the 20th century cast iron was substituted by another novelty – reinforced concrete. The first company using it in Slovakia was the Pittel & Brausewetter company from Bratislava.
In the 19th century, a new type of building emerged in Slovakia – a block of flats. It was mostly a two or a three-storey building with a court. Larger flats accessible from the main staircase and facing the street were typically located on the first or on the second floor. Small flats were to be entered from the access balcony and they were placed on higher floors, or in the court wings of the building. The first examples of blocks of flats were designed by Ignác Feigler Sr. in Bratislava. His son Ignác Feigler Jr. successfully followed in his father’s footsteps, and Alexander Feigler – the last active architect in this dynasty – also designed and built blocks of flats. These buildings can be found around Laurinská Street, Štefánikova Street and Palisády Street. Apart from blocks of flats which were designed as historic palaces, the first houses for factory workers were built in towns and near manufacturing plants in the 19th century. These were mostly simple two-bay houses with one-room flats. There was either a corridor or an access balcony to the flats. An example of such early social housing was Schulpeho kolónia in Bratislava, built in 1894 on the initiative of a local philanthropist.
In connection with one of the most important works of Gothic architecture in Slovakia – St. Elizabeth‘s Cathedral in Košice – we mentioned the interest in historic buildings that emerged in the Kingdom of Hungary in the 19th century. At that time, the Hungarian science of art focused on the monuments of Medieval Upper Hungary. The fondness for medieval architectural forms came mostly from the influence of Romanticism that got to the Kingdom of Hungary from England and France. The Romantic admiration of medieval castles encouraged the reconstruction of many castles and mansions. Romantic rebuilding of Bojnice Castle that took place from 1890 to 1910 was the most majestic one. It was initiated by Count Ján František Pálfi – an art collector of noble birth and the last owner of the castle. During the renovation of the castle, crenellations were added to the castle walls, the dominant neo-Gothic tower was completed, a big hall with a Gothic vault was built and the chapel and the count’s flat were reconstructed. The construction works were carried out according to the design of Jozef Hubert (1846 – 1916), an architect from Bratislava, as well as the detailed instructions from the count, who had a clear vision of his residence.
Elements of Gothic architecture were also used in sacred and sepulchral architecture – e.g. a wonderful architectural miniature in the form of the Mausoleum of the Andrássy family in Trebišov (A. Meining, 1893), the Calvinist church in Lučenec (designed probably by F. Wieser, 1854), or the three-nave basilican Blumental chuch in Bratislava (F. Rumpelmayer, 1888).
Interest in history as such and in the history of art, the admiration of exotic cultures, and the search for original forms of some building types were reflected in the construction of the Chinese pavilions and Turkish baths as well as Oriental-style synagogues built in our territory in the second half of the 19th century. Synagogues with a horizontal stripe pattern on the facade, compound arched windows and two towers on the front facade were typical of this period. The most valuable and preserved synagogue of this type is the Neolog synagogue in Malacky (W. Stiassny, 1886). The construction of synagogues in Slovakia inspired by the Moorish and Oriental patterns was crowned at the beginning of the 20th century with the works of Lipót Baumhorn (1860 – 1932), the most significant European architect of the Jewish sacred architecture. Monumental Neolog synagogues in Nitra (1911) and in Lučenec (1926) were built according to his design. While the Jewish environment was deliberately oriented towards the Moorish style that is considered original in relation to the construction of synagogues, Slovak Evangelicals only seldom drew inspiration from the Eastern building tradition. A great example of how unique this influence is can be seen in the New Evangelical Church in Kežmarok (1909), designed by the outstanding Viennese architect Theophil Hansen. When we are talking about exotic spa architecture, the most beautiful example is the Turkish bath Hamam in Trenčianske Teplice (F. Schmoranz, 1888).