2,000 years of history close up in the Inner City Parish Church of the Assumption

Inner City Parish Church of the AssumptionBudapestGreater Budapest

The building towering at the heart of Budapest isn’t only a venue for Holy Mass: Christianity has been intertwined with Hungarian culture since the 11th century, and the walls of the church have truly absorbed the memories of the past 2,000 years. In addition to religion, the Inner City Parish Church also holds attractions for lovers of architecture, culture and history. 

If you’d like to visit a church displaying every style from Roman times up to the 20th century, then the Inner City Parish Church in Pest is the destination for you. The earliest parts of the building date back to Roman times, but it has filled its current function for an extremely long time – about a millennium – and in recent years it has proudly preserved the memory of key people and events in Hungarian history.  

A witness to history

You can see the rich past of the church for yourself when visiting the parish, but to give you a taste, we have gathered here the most important events in the history of the building: 

  • In 1046, before being transported to his final resting place, Bishop St. Gellert was buried here.
  • In 1211, the engagement of then 4-year-old Queen (and later Saint) Elisabeth was held here.
    In 1458, Matthias, followed in 1490 by Ulászló, were elected as kings here.
  • After 1541, during the Turkish occupation, the building also briefly functioned as a mosque.
  • After the withdrawal of the Turks, it regained its original function, but the memory of this period is still preserved in the inscription in one of the church's prayer booths.
  • In 1841, Hungarian statesman Lajos Kossuth (who was otherwise a Lutheran) married Terézia Meszlényi here.
  • In 1856, Adolf Kolping, a priest and social activist from Cologne, gave a speech here, marking the Hungarian launch of his significant religious movement throughout Europe.
  • Between 1858 and 1871, Franz Liszt, the world-famous composer, was a frequent guest and occasional conductor in the parish church.
  • In 1867, after his coronation, Franz Joseph I took the royal oath in the square in front of the church (which is why it was long called Eskü – Hungarian for oath – tér).
  • The relic of the Holy Cross arrived in Hungary as a donation from Pope Pius XI in 1934 and can still be seen in the church today.  

 

The building has undergone several restorations since its inception, typically performed by the most renowned architects of the age and following the latest trend, so the façade and interior bear a mix of styles – imprints of different historical eras. The frequent archaeological excavations have revealed many forgotten slices of history, and memories of different architectural eras and branches of art are regularly unearthed. The parish was last renovated between 2014 and 2016, when the remains of the command bay of the Roman-era Contra Aquincum military fortress were discovered. 

No shortage of curiosities

You may have heard the historical facts, but the walls of the church also tell extraordinary tales: 

  • In 1895, during the construction of the adjacent Elisabeth Bridge, the demolition or relocation of the building was considered. Ultimately, however, neither of these took place, and instead the bridge was designed to be arched so the church could remain in place.
  • The parish today has 4 bells: the mayor’s grand bell, the middle bell, the small bell and the passing bell, with a total weight of 3,900 kg. There was once also a fifth, 650 kg bell, which was seized and taken from one of the towers for military purposes during World War II.
  • In the 19th century, a chapel belonging to the church was discovered, the condition of which would have allowed for its reconstruction, but this did not take place. Instead, it was buried during the construction of the nearby bridge, and its remains are still beneath the road today.
  • We can never be certain that we have become fully familiar with the building. In 2010, a hitherto unknown mural of the Virgin Mary from the Anjou era was unearthed, preserved in surprisingly good condition by the wall cabin behind the sanctuary. 

 

If you’d like to walk in the footsteps of the greats of Hungarian history yourself in this impressive building, head to the Inner City Parish Church of the Assumption. 

MOVE AROUND LIKE A HUNGARIAN