The town of Dmanisi is first mentioned in the 9th century as a possession of the Arab emirate of Tbilisi, though the area had been settled since the Early Bronze Age. An Orthodox Christian cathedral ('Dmanisi Sioni') was built there in the 6th century. Located on the confluence of trading routes and cultural influences, Dmanisi was of particular importance, growing into a major commercial center of medieval Georgia.
The site includes an inner castle, secular buildings, shrines and a secret tunnel. Also on this site you can see ruins and fundaments of dwellings, mosque with minaret, madrasa, bathhouses, oil house, pottery, and other workshops, wine cellars, paved roads, etc. It was a big fun for us to explore numerous semi-underground structures with holes in vaults and reservoirs for collecting rainwater with well-preserved elements of pipes and bathes.
The walls and vaults of Dmanisi Sioni three-aisled basilica, constructed from rough stones, remember a lot of rebuilds. Time has made its 13th century frescoes pale, and faces on them are almost indiscernible. In 13th century the church also was updated by narthex, which looks completely atypically for Georgian architecture, but is very similar to Armenian gavits – there is less the 15 km to the border of Armenia. And the khachkar (carved, memorial stele bearing a cross) on its frontone completes the picture. The narthex with its ornaments and manuscripts and with tombstones on the floor looks really gorgeous.
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.