The Basilica


The Basilica (St. Stephen's Church), the most impressive building of Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út, has its main façade towards the Danube; from Bajcsy-Zsilinszk út all we see are its semicircular chancel walls. The monumental neo-Renaissance church was designed by two well-known masters of the Hungarian architecture of the turn of the century, József Hild and Miklós Ybl, and was built between 1851 and 1905. The area of the church, a Greek cross with a dome and two steeples, is 86 by 55 m (285 by 183 ft.). The dome, burned down during the war and rebuilt in 1948-49, is the highest among Budapest's churches-96 m. (314 ft.)-, the same height as the dome of the Parliament building. Statues of Latin Fathers of the Church stand in the ground-floor niches, the four Evangelists are in the protruding niches of the pillars, and the statues of the twelve Apostles stand above the semicircular colonnade of the chancel.

The vestibule of the main entrance is shaped like a triumphal arch. The relief of the tympanum above the two Corinthian half columns depicts Our Lady, the Patroness of Hungary, with the Hungarian saints ; the wall above the main entrance is decorated with a relief of the Hungarian king St. Stephen, and a mosaic depicting the resurrection of Christ. The works of significant Hungarian artists of the period, among them Mór Than, Bertalan Székely, and Gyula Benczúr , ornament the inside of the church and the chancel; the statues of Hungarian saints-St. Elizabeth, St. Gerard, St. Emeric, and St. Ladislas holding his sword high-stand near the inside main pillar of the dome. The mosaics of the dome were designed by Károly Lotz, a famous Hungarian fresco-painter of the turn of the century. St. Stephen's statue on the main altar is the work of Alajos Stróbl; the five bronze relieves of the chancel illustrate scenes from the life of the first Hungarian king.