There are countless reasons why people flock to Budapest each year and naming each and every one of them is next to impossible. Interesting people, the River Danube, outstanding monuments, cultural shows, tongue-inciting restaurants, and, of course, ancient churches – these are the things that draw the most people to the proud capital of Hungary. Yet even if your personal reason is not on the aforementioned list, you are bound to enjoy what we are going to talk about today: three churches that most indubitably deserve your time, attention, and awe. So, without further ado, let us hop right into it!
1. Saint Stephen Basilica:
If one tried to name the most famous Hungarian basilica, it would most indubitably be the Saint Stephen Basilica of Budapest. Presenting notions pertaining to the Neoclassical architectural style, the Roman Catholic basilica bears the name of Stephen I of Hungary, the very first Christian king of the country. The “incorruptible” Right Hand is also said to be located within its reliquary (you may want to do some extra reading on that). Interestingly, the basilica is exactly 96 metres tall – this is because visually 9 is 6 inverted, meaning that spiritual goals and worldly machinations bear equal worth in the eyes of the Creator. Additionally, it signifies the conquest of the Kingdom of Hungary of 896 and its millennial celebrations of 1896. Hungary has gone as far as preventing taller buildings from being built (the Saint Stephen Basilica and the Hungarian Parliament Building must remain the tallest structures of the city). Being the co-cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Esztergom-Budapest, it harbours numerous awe-inspiring sculptures that visitors can bask in: “Szent László” by Fadrusz János, “Szent Rita” by Jálics Ernő, “Szent Antal” by Dankó József, “Kis Szent Teréz” by Ferenczy Béni, and countless others.
2. Matthias Church:
Standing majestically adjacent to Budapest’s Fisherman’s Bastion, the Matthias Church is known as the heart of Buda’s Castle District. The current incarnation of the church was built in the second half of the 14th century but certain sources state that there had been another one prior to that, built in 1015 (this would, of course, mean that it was founded by Saint Stephen of Hungary, the first Christian Hungarian King). Though no archaeological evidence can be found to sustain that claim, it still is one of the oldest religious structures of its parent city. With a single tower and seven distinct bells (each one named separately, of course), it was the second largest church in medieval Buda and the seventh largest in the medieval Kingdom of Hungary. Built to adhere to the standards of the Romanesque architectural style, it succumbed to several significant renovations in the 19th century. What you can see today is a well-preserved reincarnation of its former self – it, however, is neither a full reconstruction, nor is it its ancient, dilapidated self. Know also that it harbours the burials of two major Hungarian figures: Béla III of Hungary and Agnes of Antioch.
3. The Great Synagogue:
Erected to present elements pertaining to the Moorish Revival architectural style (based upon North African Islamic and medieval Spanish structures such as the Alhambra) between 1854 and 1859, the Great Synagogue of Budapest is one of the most important Jewish centres in all of Hungary. In fact, it is so grand that it can harbour 3,000 people at any given time – this makes it the largest synagogue in Europe and the second largest in the world (beaten only by the Belz Great Synagogue of Jerusalem). Soaring at a height of 26 metres and stretching upon an area of 1,200 square metres, the establishment is an exquisite example of Neolog Judaism centres around the world. What’s interesting about it is that its architect, Ludwig Förster said that he’d selected “architectural forms that have been used by oriental ethnic groups that are related to the Israelite people, and in particular the Arabs” because he solemnly believed that no specific Jewish architectural nuances could be distinguished. Known also as the “Dohány Street Synagogue”, the structure served as inspiration for its identical copy, the Central Synagogue of Manhattan, New York City.
Did you enjoy our list? Which of the aforementioned religious structures have you seen and what lasting impressions have they left you with? Hit the comment section below and tell us all about it! Safe travels!