The limestone façade
The main façade of the Ybl palace on Andrássy út is quite imposing, not only because of its structure, but also due to its decorations.
If you stop to admire the building from the pavement, you will immediately be struck by the sight of four large statues. One of the two sphynxes made of Carrara marble that guard the two side entrances holds a laurel wreath, and the other holds a theatrical mask in its claws, which is a reference to the Apollonian and Dionysian concept (expounded by the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche) that pervades the interior and exterior decorations of the building. The niches located next to the main entrance house large limestone sculptures of Ferenc Liszt and Ferenc Erkel created by Alajos Strobl. The two composers sat in person for the twenty-six-year-old sculptor. Liszt is portrayed in a more dynamic, romanticist pose, while Erkel’s posture exudes calm, which signifies the two artist’s different characters.
The drive leading to the main entrance is located at the middle of the main façade, together with a separate set of stairs and a ramp. The arcade in the mid-section consists of four columns and the resulting five intercolumniations, with the statues of four muses in the niches in front of the foyer windows. The parapet on the upper level houses sixteen white limestone statues depicting various composers. As the original statues had been made of a softer material and had deteriorated by the 1930s (one had even fallen to the pavement), these have been replaced. Today, statues of the following composers look down on passers-by: Monteverdi, Scarlatti, Gluck, Mozart, Beethoven, Rossini, Donizetti, Glinka, Wagner, Verdi, Gounod, Bizet, Mussorgsky, Tchaikovsky, Moniuszko, and Smetana.
The building is topped by a Mansard roof decorated with ornate tin air vents. The wrought-iron lights, candelabras, and the enormous lights over the stairs and ramps are all part of the whole of the façade, just as Vilmos Marschenke’s colourful majolica pieces that decorate the ceilings of the arches and the walls.