Nestled in the district of Lipótváros, a ten minutes walk from the Parliament of Budapest, Saint Stephen’s Basilica (in Hungarian Szent István-bazilika) is the largest church in the capital and the 2 nd largest in Hungary after the Esztergom Basilica.
St. Stephen’s Basilica ranks very high on the list of top tourist attractions in Budapest!
Accommodation, flights, tourist activities, citypass …
You’ll find all the Captain’s suggestions in the section
Captain Ulysses’ favourites at the very end of the article!
Short history lesson about St. Stephen’s Basilica
The origins of St. Stephen’s Basilica in Pest
In 1838, the Hungarian capital suffered terrible floods. To escape the rising waters, several hundred inhabitants took shelter at the top of the hill where St. Stephen’s Basilica now stands.
A few years later, the local authorities decided to build a vast church dedicated to St. Stephen on the very spot where the lucky Budapesters narrowly escaped death!
The construction of St. Stephen’s Basilica
55 years and 3 architects were needed to complete the construction of St. Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest!
- Construction work began in 1851. József hild, the architect in charge of the project, designed a resolutely neoclassical building.
- In 1867, Miklós Ybl took over following the death of József Hild. A year later, the neoclassical dome imagined by his predecessor collapsed. Rather than rebuilding it identically, the architect designed a brand new neo-renaissance dome.
- In 1891, Miklós Ybl passed away and Jozsef kauser was charged with completing the construction of the basilica. The Basilica was finally opened to the public in 1905, almost 55 years after the start of construction!
The inauguration of the basilica
St. Stephen’s Basilica was inaugurated in 1906 by Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph I.
Legend has it that the emperor spent the entire ceremony nervously staring at the dome for fear it might collapse again!
🤔 Who was Saint Stephen? 🤔
Stephen I was the founder of the Kingdom of Hungary and became the first king of the nation in 1000 or 1001. He was canonized in 1083 for evangelizing his kingdom. He is therefore considered the patron saint of Hungary.
Visiting St. Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest
The exterior of St. Stephen’s Basilica
Before entering the basilica, take a moment to peer at its beautiful facade.
Its monumental dimensions are impressive: 87.4 meters (286 ft 8.9 in) long and 55 meters (180 ft 5.4 in) wide. Its dome, culminating at 96 meters (314 ft 11.5 in), makes it the tallest building in the capital together with the Hungarian Parliament, which is the exact same height!
The Basilica, which is the largest church in Budapest and the 2nd largest in Hungary, can thus accommodate… up to 8,500 devotees!
The two towers flanking the building have six bells in total, the largest of which weighs 9 tons.
Although it blends neoclassical and neo-renaissance influences, the facade of the basilica remains incredibly harmonious.
The interior of St. Stephen’s Basilica
The time has come to push open the door of the basilica! The building’s layout is in the shape of greek cross. Inside, the decoration is lavish and ostentatious: marble, mosaics, stained glass, sculptures and gildings!
Some of the most famous Hungarian artists of the 19 and 20th centuries took part in the decoration works including painters Mór Than, Bertalan Székely, Gyula Benczúr, Károly Lotz and sculptor Alajos Stróbl.
St. Stephen’s Basilica is also famous for housing an ancient relic: the Holy Right (Szent Jobb in Hungarian), the right hand of St. Stephen, first king of Hungary.
Panorama from the dome of St. Stephen’s Basilica
At the foot of the dome, you’ll find a panoramic terrace offering stunning views over the capital. To get to the terrace though, you’ll have to climb over 300 stairs… or simply hop in the elevator if you’re not in the mood for a bit of sport!
Concerts in St. Stephen’s Basilica
Attention music lovers!
Saint Stephen’s Basilica in Pest is also known for hosting numerous organ and classical music concerts.
👍 The Captain’s tip 👍
Captain Ulysses highly recommends this Budapest free tour.
You’re free to choose how much you want to tip the tour guide at the end of the tour!
Getting to St. Stephen’s Basilica in Pest
To get to St. Stephen’s Basilica in Pest, head for the district of Lipótváros! The basilica is located a ten-minute walk from the Hungarian parliament , the Széchenyi Chain Bridge and the Opera House.
The nearest public transports are:
- Subway: Bajcsy Zsilinszky út station (line M1) and Arany János utca station (line M3)
- Bus: Hercegprímás utca stop (lines 15 and 115).
Hop-on hop-off sightseeing buses also stop near the basilica. They’re super handy to get around the city while enjoying the view!
Opening hours of St. Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest
The basilica is open:
- on weekdays (Monday to Friday) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Entrance to St. Stephen’s Basilica is free. That being said, you’ll have to pay 500 forints per person to access the dome and 400 forints per person to visit the treasury.
The Captain’s favourites in Budapest
If you’re looking for an accommodation in Budapest, Captain Ulysses highly recommends Booking.com . You’ll find a wide choice of hotels, hostels and apartments in the Hungarian capital.
If your budget is tight, the Captain particularly recommends theAvenue Hostel .
If you’re looking for a midscale option, the Captain recommends three aparthotels in particular: Hedonist Lodge , Dolce Vita Rumbach and Tempo Life Apartman .
And if you want to treat yourself to a really nice hotel, why not splurge on a stay at Hotel Moments Budapest ?
As for booking visits and tourist activities, Captain Ulysses recommends three websites: GetYourGuide , Tiqets and Civitatis . Guided tours, cruises, skip-the-line tickets, tourist activities… there’s plenty to choose from!
If you are staying in Budapest for several days, you might want to consider investing in the Budapest Card. It includes free public transport, free entrance to the Lukacs Spa, two guided tours, free entrance to 17 museums, as well as numerous discounts.
Budapest airport is located about twenty kilometers from the city. If you want to take a load off your mind, you can book a private transfer into Budapest’s city centre from the airport. A car will be waiting to take you to your accommodation in the city. Find out more: shared transfer or private transfer.
🚌 TRANSPORTS IN BUDAPEST
Budapest’s public transport system is well-developped and quite easy to navigate: metro, bus, tram and even ferry. If you wish, you can also opt for a hop-on hop-off bus tour which stops at all the top tourist attractions in Budapest (audio guide included). Otherwise, there’s always the good old local ways of getting around the city: in a russian jeep or a Trabant.
Captain Ulysses highly recommends booking your flights on Skyscanner. The website allows you to compare countless flights to find the best deal. If your dates are flexible, you can also compare prices over several months to find the cheapest flights possible.
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