St. Stephen’s Basilica is the biggest church in Budapest. The building is so huge that it can gather up to 8 500 people at once. St. Stephen’s Basilica is devoted to the first king of Hungary – Stephan, the first Hungarian king, whose mummified right hand is still preserved in the reliquary of the temple. Although if determining it by the architectural principles, it’s a cathedral, St. Stephen has been conferred on its title to be a basilica by Pope Pius XI since 1931st year. It took more than 50 years to finish the construction of St. Stephen’s Basilica. The building process began in 1851st year and in 1906th year it was officially closed. During the construction work, the cupola collapsed and the restoration started basically from its base, which is the main reason for the long-lasting building process of the church.
Initially, St. Stephen’s Basilica was designed in a typical neoclassical style, but eventually it was completed in neo-renaissance style. The most impressive part of the building is, of course, the cupola. The building is 96 meters high, which is the height of the Parliament House in Budapest. The basilica also has bell towers and one of them (the south bell tower) is the biggest one in Hungary.
The interior of the church is also quite impressive – mosaic, paintings made by famous artists and those thousands of tiny details, they all charm each of the visitors.
What to see?
St. Stephen’s right hand
It is preserved in a glaze show case, right in the chapel, at the right side of the main altar.
if you want to reach the basilica cupola, you can climb the way to it that takes you 364 stairs. There’s an elevator, too. It takes you up to the observational platform at the top of the building, but, by all means, taking the stairs is more intriguing and authentic as an experience. Plus – the staircase is totally impressive.
In order to reach it you can take either the elevator, or the stairs, but in all cases, you will be charged with an entrance fee. Right next to the cupola there’s an observational platform from where you can make wonderful pictures of Budapest.
The big Bell tower St. Stephen
It’s the biggest bell tower in Hungary in general. The bell tower weighs 9250 kilos, while its diameter is 240 sm.
Virgin Merry Bell
This is, on the other side, the oldest bell situated in a basilica in Hungary. It was built during the construction process of St. Stephen’s Basilica.
What should I know before a visit of St. Stephen’s Basilica?
- Although the entrance to this attraction is generally free, the custom is to leave a symbolic donation for the chapel.
- During a religious ritual, the basilica is closed for visits.
- The observational platform is opened for visits from spring autumn.
- As the basilica is a holy place, when you visit it, please, make sure you have dressed up appropriately – avoid naked shoulders or knees, as well as hats.
- It’s allowed to make photos, but, don’t use a flash.
- Don’t miss the chance to visit any of the concerts that are arranged inside the basilica where classical masterpieces written by Mozart, Bah, Vivaldi and other genius compositors are performed.
- The square right in front of the basilica is of the same name – St. Stephen – and it’s full of cafes and restaurants. It’s where you can also have a bite or relax after your long visit of St. Stephen’s Basilica. By the way, this is the same square where the famous Budapest Christmas Market takes place.
The basilica is with free entrance. You should buy a ticket only if you want to reach the cupola from where, by the way, you can enjoy an amazing view of Budapest.
You will be also additionally charged for using a guide service, as well as if you attend a concert with organ appointed for the basilica inner space.
There are discounts for kids, students and pensioners.
The guide tours are available in English, too, but they are arranged only during the working time and in case you succeed form a group of at least 10 visitors. It’s necessary to make a reservation in advance, too.
The basilica is accessible for people in wheelchairs, but it’s necessary for your companion to ask someone from the basilica’s employees to assist you in getting to and inside the elevator.
Budapest – the city
Szechenyi Chain Bridge
Saint Matthias Church
Gellert Thermal Bath
Central Market Hall