Explorethe tallest church in the country and the hidden trick of the cupola. Look out and adore the amazing panorama of Budapest from St. Stephen’s Basilica!
St. Stephen’s Basilica, named after our first king, is located in the heart of our capital, and it is one of the largest, most beautiful and perhaps most important churches in our country. The building houses one of our most important religious relics , the Holy Right (Szent Jobb). The dome lookout tower is a real curiosity , from which –after climbing the narrow stairs – an exceptional view of the capital can be seen. In addition, expensive weddings and extraordinary classical music concerts are also held in St. Stephen’s Basilica.
The first designer of the church was the greatest Hungarian classicist architect, József Hild, who supervised the works until his death. The continuation of the important task was entrusted to one of the greatest artists of his time, Miklós Ybl, who – when examining the plans – discovered that they were statically flawed. Soon cracks appeared in the columns, and a few days later, on the afternoon of January 22. 1868. the Dome collapsed with a large rumble. Miklós Ybl had to start the construction almost from the beginning, he continued to work in a beautiful neo-renaissance style, but he died in 1891. The final look of the church can be attributed to József Kauser. The temple was finally consecrated in 1905, and then at the keystone ceremony in 1906, Emperor Francisz Joseph I. gave a speech.
It was awarded the title of basilica minor (Catholic church of special significance) in 1931, from Pope Pius XI. Until recently, the largest Dome in Budapest did not have its own bishop, but since the archbishop of Esztergom has been appointed archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, St. Stephen’s Basilica became the Budapest Cathedral. The last construction was completed in 2003 after almost twenty years of work. During this not only the entire building, but also the surroundings – Szent István tér – was renovated:, the temple got new decorative lighting, and the square was given new pavement. In addition, high-quality restaurants, cafes and ice cream shops were opened.
St. Stephen’s Basilica is the third-largest church in Hungary and can accommodate approximately 8,000 people. Its main façade faces the square, towards the Danube, but the outside of the sanctuary, towards Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út is also richly decorated, with the columns and a statue of the 12 apostles. It is definitely worth talking about the largest of its six bells, the St. Stephen’s Great Bell, which is the largest bell in the country. The bell has a diameter of two and a half meter and it weighs ten tons. The interior of the Basilica is also enormous, lavishly designed and richly decorated with frescoes, stuccos and marble. The figure of the eponymous king St. Stephen can be realized in several places.
The most cherished, most valuable relic of the Hungarian Roman Catholic Church, the Holy Right, the mummified right hand of our king St. Stephen, also found its final resting place here. The relic can be seen in the chapel to the left of the main altar. The story of the naturally mummified right hand is truly special. A long time ago, near Oradea, in the cloister named after the relic, it was kept in the abbey, then its long and adventurous journey began. It was only in the time of Maria Theresa, in 1771, that it was returned to Hungary. During the Second World War it was taken to the West, but it was already carried back to Budapest in 1945. The special memento holder is in a glass cabinet that floats in a flood of light when a visitor drops in some money.
A circular lookout tower was built in the dome of the Basilica, from where a wonderful panorama of the capital can be seen. You can take the elevator or climb the narrow stairs to reach the observation deck on the edge of the Dome. The access road itself is adventurous, especially on the diversified stairs, there are narrow spiral stairs and cast-iron stairs as well. We’d better think it through if we choose the stairs because there are loads of them. The Dome can be safely walked around and the relatively narrow edge is protected by a railing. From all sides a fantastic view unfolds, and the sights of the city can be seen from a rather awesome point of view. We can also take selfies and group photos when the weather is good. Symbolizing the conquest of 896, the height of the dome is 96 meters, equal to the height of the roof of the Hungarian Parliament.
St. Stephen’s Basilica is also a place for fantastic concerts. Lovers of classical music can enjoy popular organ concerts – Mozart: Requiem, Händel: Messiah – or guest performances. The concerts start on Mondays at 5 pm with a showtime of 45 minutes. Organ evenings are on Fridays at 8 pm from May to December, with a showtime of 60 minutes. In addition to organists from the Basilica, singers and instrumental artists are also presented, including organ works and the most famous church arias by Albinoni, Caccini, Bach, Mozart, Schubert, Gounod, Bizet, Rachmaninoff, Cesar Franck and Ferenc Liszt. Most tickets for the concerts include a cruise on the Danube, accompanied by dinner.
The wedding is a special occasion in itself. The biggest problem is usually choosing the right venue. Couples always want some unique, new or extravagant wedding place. Why wouldn’t it be a church? Although church weddings are sometimes are free, the Matthias Church in the Buda Castle and St. Stephen’s Basilica are exceptions. According to the information of the event organizing companies, an amount of around 15,000–30,000 HUF must be paid for such an event. This price only includes the venue! Anyone who loves special church weddings will honor this.
St. Stephen’s Basilica has many occasions to explore Budapest. It can be reached on foot or by public transport, as it is located in the city center. From here it is only a few minutes’ walk to the popular Váci utca (shopping street) or Fashion Street. Furthermore, we can visit the Danube Promenade or the famous Kossuth tér where the Hungarian Parliament is located. Szent Gellért tér and the famous Gellért Hill can be reached on foot from here as well. If we have enough time, we can start discovering the city from the Basilica, then after climbing the many stairs we can adore the panorama of Budapest. Then we can have a rest and try ice cream or taste the delicious lemonade on the nearby Erzsébet tér. Believe us, it’s a good value for the money.