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The Inner City Parish Church (Belvárosi Plébániatemplom) in Budapest, located next to the Erzsébet Bridge on the Danube, is the oldest building on the Pest side of the city.
This site along the river has long been considered sacred, as it is home to the grave of Bishop St. Gellért (c. 980-1046), a missionary from Italy who played an instrumental role in converting Hungary to Christianity. According to tradition, he was martyred by angry pagans who rolled him down a hill across the river, which was named Gellért Hill in his honor. The first church constructed on this spot was a 12th-century Romanesque structure built inside the ruined walls of the Roman fortress of Contra-Aquincum. In the early 14th century, this was replaced by a Gothic church, which still stands today. It has been frequently renovated and remodeled in accordance with contemporary fashions, so its medieval origins are not obvious at first glance. The Inner City Church was almost torn down when the Erzsébet Bridge was built in the late 19th century. Fortunately, the city approved an alternative plan, in which the new bridge would wind around the church (an interesting construction best viewed from Gellért Hill).
What to See
The west facade combines Gothic and Baroque elements, with twin towers and a yellowy hue. Both styles can also be seen in the interior niches. One of the highlights of the interior is a mihrab (prayer niche), a relic of the Turkish occupation when the church was used as a mosque. The altarpiece was painted by the 20th-century artist Pál Molnár, whose work can also be seen in St. Anne’s Church. (From: sacred-destinations.com)
The location at the Pest side of Elisabeth Bridge, across from Gellert Hill, is originally the gravesite of the martyr, Bishop Saint Gellért. The oldest church in Pest was built here in the 12th century, in Roman style, to be destroyed in the Tatar invasion. In the 14th century, the ruins were replaced by a Gothic structure, which was converted into a mosque during the Turkish invasion of the 16th-17th century. 1723 saw a great fire, destroying the building, which was then rebuilt in Baroque style. The interior preserved some neo-Classical features. The building, as it stands today, combines a wide range of styles: a Gothic chapel, a neo-Gothic carved pulpit, fifteenth century Italian frescoes, and a high altar from the twentieth century. (From: charleshotel.hu)
According to the book, the church was supposed to be open today from 9am-7pm. That however, was not the case at all. The main door had a note on it that pointed around the corner. I walked around the corner to another locked door. I will try to go back during my stay to see the inside. The outside is very interesting. It is right up against the Erzsébet Bridge, so close that passing motorists might be able to reach out and touch it. The only remaining section of the Romanesque church (1100’s) is a small portion of the wall near the front door. The outside area and grounds could use a bit of cleaning up (see pictures).
Update: Went back today and the church was open. I went inside look around, but learned that in order to take pictures, you had to pay $1, 1 Euro or 200 HUF. I didn’t have any small bills so ended up giving the attendant $5. He was a very nice guy and showed me around the church, which is currently enjoying a renovation. Under the main alter sits a “relic” from St. Gellért, a martyr that died in 1046. Also interesting is the Turkish prayer niche, a small alcove, which points in the direction of Mecca and remains as evidence of the Turkish invasion (1541).