St. Stephen’s Basilica, or Lipót City Parish Church, is one of the most significant ecclesiastical buildings of Hungary as well as a major tourist attraction of the capital.
An architecturally stunning building. When approached from the bank of the Danube, the building slowly appears, metre by metre, yet without dominating its surroundings. The church was built on a small hill on which several hundred people sought refuge during the great flood of 1838, from whence they were rescued by boat. Construction began with funds from donations, and was finally completed in 1906.
The first plans for the neo-Renaissance structure were drafted by József Hild, which was then taken over by Miklós Ybl, while the ornamental elements and interior were designed by József Kauser. On the main facade, below the tympanum, is an inscription of Christ’s words: EGO SUM VIA, VERITAS ET VITA. The basilica is named after Saint Stephen, the Hungarian king who founded the Hungarian state.
The relic of his right hand is preserved in one of the chapels. Built on a Greek cross ground plan, the interior is covered with mosaics, frescoes, statues and stained glass, and can seat up to 8,000 for services. The height of the basilica is, like that of the Parliament, 96 metres, commemorating the founding of Hungary in 896.
The circular observation area surrounding the cupola is accessible to visitors, offering a view of both the inner structure supporting the cupola and an outstanding panorama of the surrounding area. Item of interest: several former members of Hungary’s Golden Team that dominated world football in the early 50s, including the legendary Ferenc Puskás, were laid to rest here.
St. Stephen Square in front of the Basilica, paved in decorative stones with geometric patterns, is a favourite spot in summer: terraces with parasols, plants and the fountains of the Basilica all contribute to a Mediterranean atmosphere.
The Basilica is also the venue for celebrated Organ Concerts organised weekly.
This article was originally published by budapestinfo.hu.
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