Built in neo-Renaissance style, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences is the work of Prussian architect Friedrich August Stüler and was completed in 1865, although the society was originally founded back in 1825 at the instigation of the Hungarian politician Count István Széchenyi. Its underlying purpose was to promote the Hungarian language alongside the sciences and arts, and the academy is found in a leafy square named after Széchenyi, who also donated the equivalent of a year’s income towards its building. It overlooks the River Danube and is close to the iconic Chain Bridge and there are panoramic views leading up to Buda’s Castle District. The Secessionist dream that is the Gresham Palace – which is now a grand hotel – is also located in Széchenyi István tér.
Statues adorning the three-tier façade of the Hungarian Academy represent the main branches of science and the opulent interior has suites of ornate rooms with frescoes by Károly Lotz; the academy also boasts Hungary’s most comprehensive scientific library. The third-floor art collection displays portraits and drawings from the collection of Count Széchenyi, but otherwise the building is not often open to the public.