Esztergom Basilica

Esztergom, Hungary

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.

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Founded: 1856
Category: Religious sites in Hungary

Rating

4.8/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Julian De Silva (2 years ago)
Exquisite artistry inside the Basilica. Lovely to take a seat and have a quiet moment, religious or not.
Cindy Kemp (2 years ago)
Beautiful cathedral. Love the statue commemorating crowning of the first Christian king by the pope a thousand years ago.
Peter Stawi (2 years ago)
Overwhelming monumental church - one of the biggest in Europe - with a very impressive organ. We were able to hear it during a mass. It is really worth a visit. And who knows Hauptwerk Organ samples: This organ is available as a sample Set.
Ophir (2 years ago)
Impressive monument outside of Istvan enthroned by Silvester. Also a nice view towards Slovakia. The Basilica is nice
Zalán Petneházy (3 years ago)
A beautiful place, clean and spiritual. The cathedral is in perfect condition and offers a great view of the Danube either from the territory next to cathedral or from the cathedral itself. Options vary from treasure chambers to the top of the dome. Worth visiting, highly recommended.
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