Esztergom Basilica is the biggest building in Hungary. The building of the present church took place on the foundation of several earlier churches. The first was built by Stephen I of Hungary between 1001–1010 (as the original Saint Adalbert church), the first cathedral in Hungary, which was burned down at the end of the 12th century. It was rebuilt, and even survived the Mongol invasion of Hungary. However, in 1304, Wenceslaus III, a probable candidate for the Hungarian throne, sacked the castle and the church. It was repaired in the following years. The archbishops of the 14th and 15th century made the church more ornate and added a huge library, the second most significant one in the country. It was ruined again under Turkish rule, in 1543. In 1820, the Archdiocese was restored and archbishop Sándor Rudnay decided to restore Esztergom's status as mother church of the country. The church maintains the relics of Catholic martyr and saint Marko Krizin.
The architect was Pál Kühnel and the lead contractor was János Packh. The foundation-stone was laid and work began in 1822. The Bakócz chapel was carefully disassembled (into about 1,600 pieces) and was moved 20 metres away from its original location and attached to the new basilica. In 1838 Packh was murdered, so József Hild was placed in charge of construction. He completed it in Classicistic style. Under the next archbishop, János Scitovszky, the upper church was completed and dedicated on August 31, 1856. The 1856 consecration ceremonies featured the premiere of the Missa solennis zur Einweihung der Basilika in Gran (Gran Mass), composed and conducted by Franz Liszt, and featuring the organist Alexander Winterberger. The final completion of the cathedral took place twelve years later in 1869.
The inner area of the basilica is 5,600 m². It is 118 m long and 49 m wide. It has a reverberation time of more than 9 seconds. Its dome, forming a semi-sphere, is situated in the middle, and it has 12 windows. It is 71.5 m high inside, with a diameter of 33.5 metres, and is 100 m high from outside, counted from the crypt.
The basilica is also known for Bakócz Chapel (named after Tamás Bakócz), built by Italian masters between 1506–1507 out of red marble of Süttő, its walls adorned with Tuscan Renaissance motifs. It is the most precious remaining example of Renaissance art in Hungary.
The huge crypt, built in Old Egyptian style in 1831, is today the resting place of late archbishops, among others, József Mindszenty, famous for his opposition to both Nazi and Communist rule.References:
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg. The church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory. Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. Funding was provided by the Imperial family with the support of many private donors.
Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg's other structures. The city's architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood harks back to medieval Russian architecture in the spirit of romantic nationalism. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.
The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics — according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world. The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day — including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel — but the church's chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known (born in St. Petersburg in 1842 in a Baltic-German Lutheran family). Perhaps not surprisingly, the Church's construction ran well over budget, having been estimated at 3.6 million roubles but ending up costing over 4.6 million. The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics — the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures — but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture.
In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted, badly damaging its interior. The Soviet government closed the church in the early 1930s. During the Second World War when many people were starving due to the Siege of Leningrad by Nazi German military forces, the church was used as a temporary morgue for those who died in combat and from starvation and illness. The church suffered significant damage. After the war, it was used as a warehouse for vegetables, leading to the sardonic name of Saviour on Potatoes.
In July 1970, management of the Church passed to Saint Isaac's Cathedral (then used as a highly profitable museum) and proceeds from the Cathedral were funneled back into restoring the Church. It was reopened in August 1997, after 27 years of restoration, but has not been reconsecrated and does not function as a full-time place of worship; it is a Museum of Mosaics. Even before the Revolution it never functioned as a public place of worship; having been dedicated exclusively to the memory of the assassinated tsar, the only services were panikhidas (memorial services). The Church is now one of the main tourist attractions in St. Petersburg.