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St. Stephen's Basilica in Pest - Budapest - sunset

St. Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest

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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!

💡 The Captain’s tip 💡

🧐 Want to know more about the history of Budapest? Captain Ulysses highly recommends this free guided tour of the city. It’s up to you to choose how much you wish to tip the tour guide!

💤 Are you looking for a hotel in Budapest? Be sure to check out the Captain’s article: Where to stay in Budapest? Advice & recommendations

🏛 Planning your trip to Budapest? Take a look the Captain’s detailed article on the best things to do: A Guide to Budapest

👶 Planning a family adventure to Budapest? Discover all of the Captain’s top tips in the article: Exploring Budapest with the Kids: Family-Friendly Activities.

Brief history of 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 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

View of St. Stephen's Basilica in Pest - Budapest

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.

St. Stephen's Basilica in Pest - Budapest

The interior of St. Stephen’s Basilica

St. Stephen's Basilica in Pest - Budapest - dome

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!

St. Stephen's Basilica in Pest - panorama - Budapest

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.

More info:
👉 Organ concert at St. Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest
👉 Classical music concert at St. Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest


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 Parliament of Budapest, 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!
👉 More info here

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 visits in advance!

👉 Find the perfect place to stay in Budapest!


👉 Looking for tips and recommendations? Here are all of Captain Ulysses’ suggestions!

🛏️ Accommodation:
Booking ($: Avenue Hostel | $$: Agape Apartments | $$$: Hotel Moments Budapest)

🎟️ Guided tours, cruises, skip-the-line tickets…:
GetYourGuide, Tiqets and Civitatis

🎫 Citypass:
The Budapest Card

🚐 Transfers:
Airport transfer

🚌Transport in Budapest:
Hop-on hop-off bus tour | a russian jeep | Trabant

✈️ Flights:


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