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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Details

Founded: 1856
Category: Religious sites in Hungary

Rating

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Tim Paris (38 days ago)
The entrance fee is rather cheap, and the basilica is really beautiful. You can see it from far away, since it's quite big. The interior is just as nice, I really liked the lookout tower (Only the lower one is currently available, the other one is under repair) and the church part. The crypts are not the best, but it's a part of the history of the basilica and as such should not be ignored.
i pm (2 months ago)
Beautiful, well preserved (often renovated), large church. One of the shining diamonds of Hungary. Pretty close to Budapest, easy, very nice day trip. Well worth the time and effort. Also, Esztergom has many great restaurants after visiting Basilica and other important sites. Have fun everyone.
Samuel Martínez (4 months ago)
This is the number one highlight of the city, no doubts. The fresh air on top of the hill is located, the street performers, the vibe of the travelers amused by the view is unique. There is a café next to it and the monument of Saint. Stephen as well. I love how this Basilica looks already improve for far away, but when walking to/through it the experience really touches you, the size of the pillars, the details in the statues, everything, I just loved this place so much.
A. Z. (4 months ago)
Hungary's largest church, as well as its most important by rank, as the country's primate's cathedral. In the first decade of Hungary's independence, Stephen I of Hungary built the first church on the site of today's basilica. In Hungarian history, the castle hill at Esztergom has always played a significant role.
Zoltan Batho G. (10 months ago)
One of the most beautiful architectural wonders of Hungary. It's only about an hour from Budapest by car, and you can easily spend a day in Esztergom, so a morning to evening trip is ideal. The only issue is that the interior at the moment it is sort of under renovation, but you can still experience the special atmosphere of the space and the magnificent view from the outside.
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Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.

A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.

In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.

Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.

20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.