Szent Istvan Bazilika (St. Stephen’s Basilica)

Szent Istvan ter.
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Sheltering a sacred relic of King Stephen I, St. Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest is the largest church in Hungary.

Construction on the Bazilika was completed in 1905 after over 50 years of construction. The dome collapsed in 1868, requiring the builders to start over from the ground up. Three leading architects, two of whom died before work was finished, directed the design. After its completion, St. Stephen’s was considered so sturdy that important documents and artworks were stored in it during World War II bombings. In 2002, St. Stephen’s Square was remodeled as part of a new pedestrian area. In 2003, the church exterior was fully cleaned and renovated.
What to See

Today, the basilica’s facade overlooks the grand Szent István tér (St. Stephen’s Square), a great place to enjoy coffee at open-air cafes. The church is built in a Neoclassical style with similarities to St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Over the main portal is a bust of King Stephen, Hungary’s first Christian king and patron saint of the basilica. And inside the church is a reliquary with the “Holy Right” (Szent Jobb), the preserved right hand of King Stephen. It is Hungarian Catholicism’s holiest relic. (From:

The Basilica of St. Stephen (which stands on the square of the same name) is Budapest’s largest church holding more than 8000 worshippers.

Designed by Jozsef Hild in 1845, work only began in earnest in 1851. However, Hild died before the project was complete, leaving the task of overseeing its construction to architect Miklós Ybl. During an inspection, Ybl was amazed to find that huge cracks had appeared in many of the building’s outer walls. Less than a week after cordoning off the site, the church’s vast dome tilted and collapsed. The remainder was also declared structurally unsound and demolished to make way for Ybl’s neo-Renaissance design. The building, which was finally opened by Emperor Francis Joseph in 1906, also suffered terribly from allied bombing raids during World War II. (From:

The basilica is a huge, highly ornamented structure. The chapel (housing “the hand”) and the church are free to enter and photograph. To go to the observation point on the main dome, it costs around $2.50. It is accesable by stairs or elevator.”The hand” is really strange. It sits in a glass box at the back of the chapel. A rather solomn gentleman kept saying “Only 200 HUF to turn on the light to see the hand.” You could see it quite well without the light, but I guess it would make for better photographs.

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