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, activities, citypass …
You’ll find all the Captain’s suggestions in the section
Captain Ulysses’ favourites at the very end of the article!
Brief history of the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice
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 the 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 Ist .
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 st 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 2 nd 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.
⚓Attention, sailors! ⚓
Want to find out more about Budapest’s top landmarks and museums? Check out the Captain’s article on the best things to do in the Hungarian capital!
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 themost famous Hungarian artists of the 19 and 20 th 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: theHoly 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
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 Saint-Etienne Basilica is free. but you’ll have to pay 500 forints per person to access the dome and 400 forints per person to visit the treasury.
👉 Skip the lines: book your tickets and tours beforehand!
👉 Looking for tips and recommendations? Here are all of Captain Ulysses’ suggestions!
🛏️ Accommodation: if you’re looking for an accommodation in Budapest, Captain Ulysses highly recommends Booking. You’ll find a wide choice of hotels, hostels and apartments in the Hungarian capital. The Captain recommends in particular:
– for small budgets: Avenue Hostel
– for intermediate budgets: Hedonist Lodge, Dolce Vita Rumbach and Tempo Life Apartman
– to treat yourself: Hotel Moments Budapest
🎟️ Activities: 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!
🎫 Citypass: 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.
🚐 Transfers: 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.
🚌 Transport 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.
✈️ Flights: Captain Ulysses highly recommends booking your flights on Skyscanner. You’ll be able to compare countless offers to find the best deal. If your dates are flexible, you can also compare prices over several months to find the cheapest flights possible.