A jewel in a cemetery

A jewel in a cemetery

One of the largest Jewish cemeteries in Hungary is located at Kozma Street in the Kőbánya District of Pest, i.e. on the left bank of Budapest. It was founded in 1891 by the Jewish neological community (Hungarian current of Judaism) right next to the New Public Cemetery. Members of the numerous Budapest Jewish elite rest here - dignitaries of religious life, bankers and business teams, personalities of the world of science, culture and art. Today, this place attracts enthusiasts of Hungarian architecture and art at the turn of the century.

At the very wall of the cemetery stands a row of unique mausoleums, which were designed by excellent architects. Among them is a real architectural gem - the Art Nouveau mausoleum of the Schmidl family from 1904. It is distinguished primarily by the green-turquoise colors of the ceramic cladding produced by Zsolnay. The softly flowing front elevation, sophisticated mosaics and sophisticated floral ornaments inspired by Hungarian folklore give the tomb architecture a special character. It was designed by Béla Lajt probably in cooperation with Ödön Lechner on behalf of his son Sándor and Róża Schmidlów. The Schmidls were the owners of an elegant colonial store in the center of Budapest at 11 Hercegprímás Street, whose design and display window was also designed by Lajta. The architect himself, whose real name was Bela Leitersdorfer, was of Jewish descent and was born in Budapest in 1873 in a tailors' family. He was educated by two outstanding architects Alajos Hauszmann and Imre Steindl (author of the parliament building). Comprehensively talented, he quickly gained recognition and was among the best architects in Austria-Hungary.

Near the tomb of Schmidl, another work by Lajt is noteworthy - the resting place of the Griesz family. The dome-covered interior hides an extremely rich mosaic decoration in which the architect used traditional Judaic symbolism - stylized silhouettes of lions (a symbol referring to the generation of Judah) and palm trees. Although Lajta designed several other tombstones at this cemetery, the two mausoleums undoubtedly stand out with the most sophisticated decoration in which the designer sought to synthesize folk patterns and the Art Nouveau rite.

The path along the cemetery wall, overgrown with bushes and trees, hides many other, extremely interesting, architecturally mausoleums such as the Redlisch and Ohrenstein families, in the form of a Doric temple according to the design of Ignác Alpár from 1902, the Wellisch family designed by Béla Barát, the Schön family with an entrance mysteriously covered with stone leaves or the Adler family, inside of which we will discover a beautiful mosaic depicting a stylized tree made by Mikse Róth, one of the most recognized designers of Art Nouveau stained glass and decorations. The cemetery at Kozma Street is the resting place of such outstanding Jewish personalities as writer and journalist Sándor Bródy or Alfréd Hajós, the famous Hungarian sportsman, Olympian and European champion in swimming, as well as an architect. The Jewish community in Budapest was large and constituted twenty percent of the entire population of the city. This is where the anti-Semitic term Judapest came from, which was used by Karl Lueger, the far-right mayor of Vienna, in 1897–1910.



The tomb of the Schmidl family


The tomb of the Schmidl family


The tomb of the Schmidl family



The tomb of the Griesch family



The tomb of the Griesch family



The tomb of the Redlisch family



Mausoleum of the Adler family, mosaic made by Miks Róth



Mausoleum of the Brüll family


You can read more about the Hungarian capital in Budapest 1900: A Historical Portrait of a City and Its Culture (2016), available at the ICC online bookstore.
×
added to cart:

continue shopping go to cart