St. Agnes Beguinage

Sint-Truiden, Belgium

The St. Agnes Beguinage in Sint-Truiden was built in the mid-13th century. Beguinage is an architectural complex which was created to house beguines: lay religious women who lived in community without taking vows or retiring from the world. In its heyday there were more than 200 beguines. Most houses were built during the 17th or 18th century when the original half-timbered houses were replaced due great fire.

The Romanesque-Gothic church of Beguinage has an impressive series of murals and paintings on pillars dating from the 13th to the 17th century. They witness unique religious belief in the Middle Ages. The organ (1644) is considered the most homogeneous and most complete in Belgium.

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St. Stephen's Basilica

St. Stephen"s Basilica is a Roman Catholic basilica named in honour of Stephen, the first King of Hungary (c. 975–1038), whose supposed right hand is housed in the reliquary. It was the sixth largest church building in Hungary before 1920. Today, it is the third largest church building in present-day Hungary.

The basilica was completed in 1905 after 54 years of construction, according to the plans of Miklós Ybl, and was completed by József Kauser. Much of this delay can be attributed to the collapse of the dome in 1868 which required complete demolition of the completed works and rebuilding from the ground up.

The architectural style is Neo-Classical; it has a Greek cross ground plan. The façade is anchored by two large bell towers. In the southern tower is Hungary"s biggest bell, weighing over 9 tonnes. Its predecessor had a weight of almost 8 tonnes, but it was used for military purposes during World War II. Visitors may access the dome by elevators or by climbing 364 stairs for a 360° view overlooking Budapest.

At first, the building was supposed to be named after Saint Leopold, the patron saint of Austria, but the plan was changed in the very last minute, so it became St. Stephen"s Basilica.

The Saint Stephen Basilica has played an active role in the musical community since its consecration in 1905. The head organists of the church have always been very highly regarded musicians. In the past century the Basilica has been home to choral music, classical music as well as contemporary musical performances. The Basilica choir performs often in different parts of Europe as well as at home. In the summer months they perform every Sunday. During these months you can see performances from many distinguished Hungarian and foreign organ players alike.