Budapest’s skyline is full of buildings topped with colorful tile. It graces the roofs of iconic structures like Great Market Hall and Matthias Church, which required five railway wagons full of roof tiles delivered to the construction site. These tiles were all manufactured right in Hungary at the Zsolnay Porcelain Factory.
The company, founded in 1853, started making the roof tile beloved by architects in the 1860s. István Komor, operating director of the Zsolnay Cultural Quarter, takes Great Big Story on a tour of the factory, which produces the famous tile to this day.
Typical colours include different shades of green, red, blue, and purple. Pyrogranite, which refers to a type of ornamental ceramics that were developed by Zsolnay and placed in production by 1886, is also of note.
Fired at high temperatures, this durable material remains acid and frost-resistant making it suitable for use as roof tiles, indoor and outdoor decorative ceramics, as well as fireplaces.
Architects such as Miklós Ybl, Ödön Lechner, Béla Lajta, Samu Pecz, and Imre Steindl utilized these kinds of materials in their architectural works.
This style is what pervades the surfaces of buildings in Budapest such as the Matthias church, the Hungarian Parliament, the Museum of Applied Arts, the Geological Institute, the Kőbánya church, as well as the Gellért baths. Zsolnay architecture can also be found in the southern cities of Kecskemét and Pécs, respectively.