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St. Stephen's Basilica – Budapest’s largest church

St. Stephen's Basilica
Budapest
Greater Budapest

The basilica is one of the most frequently photographed Hungarian tourist attractions and hides thousands of secrets. It was built for 54 years; 3 famous architects left their mark on the building.

Not only the distant past, but also the recent history of the monumental building offers interesting details. This is where the remains of the most famous Hungarian football player, Ferenc Puskás, are kept. The basilica and the square in front are also currently used for filming Hollywood blockbusters.

Born to gratitude

A theatre – famous for its animal fights – stood in the place of the basilica in the 18th century. Before construction of the church, an enormous flood ravaged the city in 1838, which came to be known as the large flood of Budapest. The square on which the building now stands rose up from the flat plain of Budapest and offered refuge for hundreds of people during the disaster. Survivors considered their fate to be a divine miracle so they donated money to have a church built at the location of their survival. It took a few years for the construction works to actually begin.

 

Construction first began under the supervision of József Hild in 1851. The building of the church was later taken over by the architect Miklós Ybl who replaced the earlier Classical style with Neo-Renaissance solutions. Miklós Ybl was the most famous Hungarian architect of his time; he designed, among others, the Opera House and the building of the Várkert Bazaar. Works on the basilica were eventually completed by József Kauser in 1905.

 

During World War II the valuable collection of the Hungarian National Archives and many refugees were provided protection from the bombings in the cellar of the solid building. The church, similarly to much of the city, suffered serious damage. The complete roof structure required replacement. In 1983 the city’s government resolved to completely renovate the basilica and respective works lasted until August 2003.

The dome of the Basilica

The city before our eyes

St. Stephen's Basilica plays a special role in the life of Budapest. Organ concerts are performed in the basilica every Monday, offering a special experience not only for fans of classical music. During the day you can enjoy the spectacular panorama from the building’s dome. If you climb all of the 364 steps – or take the elevator – you can see downtown Budapest from bird's-eye view and even see as far as the hills of Buda in fine weather.

 

Sports fans should definitely take a short pilgrimage to the tomb of the legendary Hungarian football player, Ferenc Puskás. In 2004, his name was included on the FIFA Top 100 list of the world’s best football players. The Treasury of the basilica is much more than just an ordinary museum. The liturgical objects stored here are used in major celebrations to this day. In addition to religious artefacts, it also stores one of Hungary's most important relics: the Holy Right Hand – the mummified right hand of St. Stephen, Hungary's state founding king – is the emblematic attraction of the basilica.

Famous Basilica Square

After walking through the largest church of Budapest – which is 96 meters high – from the cellar to the attic, take a stroll through the surrounding streets. Take a rest in one of the restaurants around St. Stephen square, and trace the steps of Tom Hanks taken during the filming of the movie Inferno, or buy a rose-shaped ice cream in the famous Gelato Rosa! Don’t forget to take a photo!

The Basilica Square

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