It was difficult to resist the intense scent of cinnamon eminating from the Hungary Pavilion, where a typical cake of Hungarian tradition, the kürtőskalács tantalized visitors and welcomed them into a large garden that hosted “Life”. The building was in fact named “The Garden of Life”, conceived by Sándor Sárkány, and was laid out over three floors, including symbolic elements related to organic architecture. The front and rear ends of the building had a circular form and resembled that of a giant shamanistic tambourine, while the part in the center was inspired by Noah’s Ark. Many kinds of fruit, vegetables, herbs and medicinal plants directly from Hungary and all strictly non-GMO, surrounded the Pavilion on the outside and provided its lifeblood.
Shamanistic drums opened and closed the Pavilion layout
The shamanistic drums present at the entrance and exit accompanied visitors and symbolized a mystical relationship with nature: shamans are quite familiar how to take care of the environment and are mediators with the spiritual world. The face of the drum bore the ancient, universal symbols of the tree of life, inside which can be found precious Hungarian water flowing and the paprika bird which underlined the importance of this ingredient, cultivated in Hungary and exported abroad.
Hungary told its story inside the drum
Heir to a sophisticated water culture, Hungary is famous for its many thermal springs and water sources which make it one of a kind in Europe. In the drum at the entrance there was a mountain on the right, while the left-hand side was dedicated to the Country’s tourist attractions: several interactive monitors introduced us to the most beautiful spas in Hungary and allowed us to book a room directly, or discover the vast range of Hungarian wines, produced by no less than twenty-two regions. Looking up, we could note several artistic objects donated for the event by various Hungarian artists. The square in front of the Pavilion hosted a series of stalls with a selection of different craftspeople exhibiting their products.
Crafts and culture in Noah’s Ark
Entering the central part of the Pavilion, we found ourselves in a sort of Noah’s Ark: a concave structure that preserved and described Hungarian culture and its many different artistic expressions, with concerts of classical and other types of music, dances, especially folk dances and contemporary art exhibitions. On the left, various stands displayed local Hungarian products and on the wall, Hungarian life was depicted in several period photographs; instead, on the top right part several photographs dedicated to the theme of water could be seen. Visitors could also admire the Zsolnoy vase, created for the Universal Exposition in Milan in 1906, the only object that survived the terrible fire which destroyed the Hungarian Pavilion. Paprika plants dangled in orderly rows all along the ceiling, bringing a splash of color to the Pavilion.
The Bogányl piano, the Pavilion’s main attraction
The wonderful Bogànyl concert piano is an emblem of Hungarian culture and it was the main attraction of the Pavilion. It takes its name from the world famous Hungarian pianist Gergely Bogànyl who made it together with his workers (it took seven long years of hard work!), and who stopped by the Pavilion to play it every so often. Its exterior is very particular, while the case, made of carbon fiber, produces a very powerful sound. Finally, the small stage present in the final part of the ark was used for folk music events and performances.
The hall of the drums, a link between land and sky
Along with paprika, Hungary exports acacia honey. The shop on the first floor sold this honey, along with other Hungarian products, including the Rubik’s cube, the famous puzzle invented in 1974 by Ernő Rubik, Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture. The second floor of the Pavilion, opened to a beautiful outdoor terrace, which was the essence of the garden of life, because it was the part closest to the sky. But before enjoy the view, it was worth checking out the most suggestive room of the Pavilion, that of the shamanic drums where paprika plants hung from the ceiling and water fell from above, beating on drums and then onto the floor covered with wheat, providing water needed for it to grow and symbolizing the continuity between the sky and the earth and the perpetuation of life.