The Basilica of St Stephen is Budapest's largest church. It is dedicated to St. Stephen, the first Christian king of Hungary. Enshrined in one of the church's chapels is St Stephen's right hand, the country's most important relic. Although in architectural terms the Basilica is a cathedral, it was given the title of ‘basilica minor’ by Pope Pius XI in 1931.
Construction of the Basilica
Building of the Basilica commenced in 1851 and took more than 50 years to complete. The first architect to work on the design was Jozsef Hild, whose ideas for the structure reflected the Classical style. In 1867 Hild passed away and architect Miklós Ybl took over.
One of Europe's leading architects in the 19th Century, Ybl added his own touch to the Basilica, which leaned more towards Neo-Renaissance. In 1868, the dome of the Basilica collapsed and Ybl had to draft new plans. Unfortunately, Ybl didn’t live to see the completion of the Basilica as he passed away in 1891, however work was finished according to his plans.
Higher than most
The dome of the Basilica is 96 metres high, the same height as the Budapest Parliament Building. In fact, current building regulations stipulate that no other structure in Budapest may exceed a height of 96 metres. The balance between church and state in Hungary is expressed through its two highest structures.
For beautiful panoramic views of Budapest, walk up the stairs or take the elevators up to the dome's observation deck (open April–October). It doesn't cost anything to enter the church, but there is a nominal fee of 500 Ft (approx 2 AUD) to go up to the observation deck.
Guided tours of the Basilica are also available Monday–Friday between 10am and 3pm. The fee is 2,000 Ft (approx. 9.50 AUD). Organ concerts are held on Mondays starting at 5pm throughout the year and cost 3,000 Ft (approx 14 AUD) for a ticket.