St. Stephen’s Basilica

Szent Istvan Bazilika, The Largest Church in Hungary

St. Stephen’s Basilica, the largest church in Budapest, is dedicated to Hungary’s first king, St. Stephen.

St Stephen's Basilica front view on a summer dayAbout 8 500 people can get in the beautiful Neoclassical cathedral at the same time.

Quick Links: Guided ToursHistoryArchitectureInside the BasilicaConcertsMass OrderNearby AttractionsRestaurantsEvents at the Basilica

Apart from its vastness, the Basilica offers some unique attractions:

  • It houses Hungary’s most sacred treasure, St. Stephen’s mummified right hand, the Szent Jobb (Holy Right Hand),
  • Go up the cupola and take in the view of whole Budapest from above!
  • Several musical programs are organised in the church throughout the year.

The spacious St. Stephen Square offers plenty terraced cafes and bistros to people watch by a cup of coffee.

Visiting St. Stephen’s Basilica

  • Location: Szt. István tér, district V., M3 (blue line) metro Arany János utca station
  • Open for tourists: Mon – Fri: 09.00 – 17.00, Sat: 09.000- 13.00, Sun: 13.00 – 17.00
  • Admission: free but it’s customary to pay 200 HUF – 1 EUR donation

Guided Tours in English

the mumified fist
The mumified hand of St. Stephen adorned with golden leaves and ruby-pearl bracelets

Phone: (+36 1) 338 2151 and (+36 30) 703 6599

  • Monday – Saturday: 10.00 – 15.00

The guided tour includes:

  • Chapel and the floodlit Holy Right of St. Stephen
  • Treasury
  • Panorama view from the cupola (only between 1st April-31st October)

Tickets:

  • 1 600 HUF for an adult (without going up the cupola: 1 100 HUF)
  • 1 200 HUF for pensioners and students (without going up the cupola: 900 HUF)
  • guided tour in English, and French (prior request is necessary): 2 000 HUF (without visiting the cupola: 1 500 HUF). Note: foreign-language tours are held for a gorup of min. 10 persons.

Panorama Lookout in the Dome

The look-out in the cupola offers a fanatastic 360° view of the city.

Opening Hours

  • 01. November – 31. March: every day: 10.00 – 16.30
  • April, May, October months: every day: 10.00 – 17.30
  • June, July, August, September months: every day: 10.00 – 18.30

Admission:

  • Adult: 600 HUF
  • Student, retiree: 400 HUF

TIP: Hotel Central Basilica is a fine 3-star Hotel in Budapest City Centre. A great choice if you want to be close to all the sights, restaurants and nightclubs.

Organ Concerts in the Basilica

St. Stephen’s Cathedral has great acoustics that you can experience on an organ concert series on Thursdays at 20.00 performed by one of Hungary’s most talented pipe organ players, Kolos Kováts.

Price of the Concert (based on seating):

  • 1st cat: 30 EUR, 2nd cat: 26 EUR, 3rd cat: 19 EUR
  • Students: 1st cat: 28 EUR, 2nd cat: 24 EUR, 3rd cat: 17 EUR

TIP #1: You can combine the concert with a night river cruise on the Danube (includes 4-course buffet dinner). If you reserve the two programs together you save some money. Prices: 59 – 70 EUR, students: 56 -68 EUR.

TIP #2: The Church of St. Michael in Váci Street or the St. Anne Church on Batthyány square in Buda also host organ concerts on regular basis. Find more organ concerts in Budapest.

Mass Order

Sunday:
  • 08:30 – Mass
  • 10:00 – Great Mass (in Latin )
  • 12:00 – Holy Mass
  • 17:00 – Holy Mass in English in the Chapel of the Holy Right
  • 18:00
Weekdays:
  • 07:00 – Holy Mass (Chapel of the Holy Right)
  • 08:00 – Holy Mass (Chapel of the Holy Right)
  • 18:00 – Holy Mass

History

front view of the basilica and part of a cafe terrace on the square

It took more than 5 decades and 3 architects to build Budapest’s Basilica. Several misfortunate events delayed the works.

József Hild made the designs in 1845 but because of the 1848/49 Revolution and War of Independence works started only in 1851.

After the death of Hild, Miklós Ybl, designer of the Opera House took over overseeing the construction.

In 1868 the dome collapsed, luckily nobody died. Ybl drew up new plans and building started again almost from scratch. He couldn’t see his work completed, since he died in 1891.

József Krauser finished St Stephen’s Basilica in 1906. According to the rumor, at the consecration mass Emperor Francis Joseph kept looking upwards afraid of another collapse of the dome.

The building suffered heavy damages during the bombings in World War II. Reconstructions have only started in the 1980-ies and were finished just recently.

St. Stephen’s Basilica in Numbers

Hungary’s second largest church can take in 8 500 people. It occupies 4 147 square metres.

  • Length of the chancel: 86 m,
  • Width: 55 m,
  • Height of the Towers: 86 m

The largest bell of the country tolls in the right tower. It weighs 9 tons.

The cathedral has a couple of marvelous stained glass windows designed by Miksa Róth like the one on the photo.

Architecture

József Hild designed a large neoclassical church similar to the basilica in Esztergom.

a face of anangel carved from wood on a pew
Beautiful carved wooden pew

The ground plan forms a Greek cross.

Because of the vicinity of the Danube huge foundations had to be constructed that resulted in an underground cellar almost as large as the subsurface building.

Many art treasures and precious documents survived down there the second world war.

After Hild’s death, Ybl reworked the plans creating a neo-Renaissance style church.

You can recognise Ybl’s work at the main facade and the wall along Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út.

Ionic columns and statues of the twelve apostles adorn the outside walls.

Inside the Basilica

You can really experience the vastness of the church from the inside. Walk around and view the works of famous contemporary artists who decorated the interior of the chancel.

Beautiful stained glass window inside St. Stephen's Basilica
Stained glass window inside St. Stephen’s Basilica

They dedicated most of their works to St. Stephen (975-1038), Hungary’s first king. He converted the nomad Hungarian

tribes into Christianity, thus managed to found a strong state between Western and Eastern European empires of the era.

Although it’s a bit dark inside, you can still admire the marvellous frescoes, statues and mosaics.

  • Main Altar: statue of St. Stephen carved out from Carrara marble by Alajos Stróbl, Gabriel archangel holds the Holy Crown above the head of the king.
  • The 96 m high Dome stands out from the mass of office buildings and apartments in Pest. Four pillars hold the massive structure. A fresco of God the Father dominates the center of the cupola.
  • The Patrona Hungariae Altar by Gyula Benczúr depicts St Stephen offering the Hungarian Crown to the Virgin Mary and asking her to be a patron of Hungary.
  • The Holy Right of St. Stephen: You can see the most precious treasure of Hungary, the mummified right fist of King Stephen in a small chapel to the left of the Main Altar. The relic is kept in an ornate glass cabinet. Insert a 100 Ft coin and the cabinet lights up.

On 20th August the Holy Right is carried around the Basilica in a procession.

More Interior Photos

the main altar

the organ of the Basilica

Cupola – Magnificent Panorama of Budapest

close up shot of the cupola on a cloudy day
The cupola tower of the Basilica

You can admire one of the city’s best panoramic views from the right tower. An elevator takes you up until halfway; from there you have to climb up on stairs.

You’ll climb out into the inside of the dome in a wrought iron construction, and you’ll get to the space between the outside and inside of the dome. Quite an exciting adventure, but the view will compensate you for the trouble.

Open:

  • 01. November – 31. March: 10.00 – 16.30,
  • April, May, October: 10.00 – 17.30
  • June, July, August, September: every day: 10.00 – 18.30

Tickets: full price: 600 HUF, students, retirees: 500 HUF.

Attractions Nearby in Budapest City Center

people sitting on a bench on Szt István tér
Szent István Square

You can find numerous attractions in the neighbourhood since district V. is the inner city of Budapest, the centre of business and administration.

The spacious Szt. István Square, where the basilica stands, is great for a walk.

Two fountains stand on the square dedicated to St. Stephen and to his wife Gizella.

The square is flanked by benches and terraced cafes. You can have a nice meal or coffee in one of the numerous fine cafes and restaurants.

TIP: Gelarto Rosa Ice Cream Parlor

Gelarto Rosa's terrace full of peopleIn summer, taste the delicious Italian-style ice cream at Gelarto Rosa just a few steps from the Basilica:

A rose is formed artfully from the ice cream making the cool summer dessert pleasing to both the eye and the taste buds.

Besides gelato, they have macarons, bonbons, chocolate, cakes, waffles, coffee and hot chocolate.

You can enjoy the desserts in the small terrace facing the Basilica.

Andrássy Avenue is just a short walk with the Opera House and other examples of great architecture.

Vörösmarty Square with the Gerbeaud Cafe is within walking distance too. See other tips on what to see and do in downtown Budapest.

Restaurants, Cafes, Bars

Szent István Square and the neighbouring streets are chock full of places to eat and drink. The choice ranges from

  • Michelin-star bistros, like BorKonyha, to
  • street food places like Bamba Marha Burger, and
  • international eateries like Akademia Italia or Japanika as well as

Events at the Basilica

The sprawling plaza in at the foot of the Basilica gives home to several events each year including

  • the JuniBor Wine Festival in August,
  • the Advent Festival & Fair starting at end of November.

TIP: Advent Festival & Fair on Szt. István Square,

Date: 26.November- 2017 – 02. January 2018

  • the basilica illuminated at night during the Advent festivalThe religious venue,
  • the tall Christmas tree,
  • the giant Advent wreath and

Light mapping show, a varied program offer, lots of local food and drinks make this a must-see program in the festive season.

Find out more about the Advent Fair & Festival by the Basilica!

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