St. Stephen’s Basilica (or Szent István Bazilika) is, as you might have guessed, a church dedicated to St. Stephen (or Szent István) who was the first Hungarian king and founder of the Christian state.
It is also one of the most popular tourist attractions in Budapest and definitely worth a visit.
The church is designed in a neo-classical style based on a Greek cross floor plan conceived by József Hild in 1845.
Construction started in 1851 but poor construction meant large parts of the original building had to be demolished and rebuilt following a large storm that led to the dome collapsing.
In 1867, following the death of József Hild, Miklós Ybl was tasked with reinvigorating the project and after modifying the design with a more renaissance inspired plan the centre pieces of which would be the large dome standing 96m high and two towers that can be seen today.
Construction of St. Stephen’s Basilica was completed between 1905 and 1906.
Statues by Leó Feszler were added to the outside the church, figures include the twelve apostles at the back of the building.
During World War II, the original bell was also looted by the Nazis and the dome was hit by a bomb that thankfully failed to detonate saving the dome until 1946 when a fire brought about its collapse once more.
The new bell weighs 9 tons and was funded by the German Catholic Church. The bell rings throughout the day and it is very loud.
Below the entrance of the church there is a tympanum showing important Hungarian saints worshipping Mary and Christ, a statue of St Stephen and a gilded mosaic of Christ.
The church is home to many of Hungary’s most sacred objects including the mummified lower right arm and hand of King St Stephen.
Entry to the church is free but a donation of 200HUF (approximately £0.70) is requested. If you would like to take the lift to the church ramparts below the main dome for a spectacular view of the city there is a fee payable of 300HUF (approximately £1.00).
There are lots of great restaurants and bars near St. Stephen’s Basilica which makes it an ideal area to visit for drinks or dinner. Some of the best luxury hotels in Budapest are also near to St. Stephen’s Basilica so you may want to choose accommodation in the area too.