Not far from Budapest, on a hill overlooking one of the Danube’s bends, lays the mother-church of the Hungarian Catholic Church: The Primatial Basilica of the Blessed Virgin Mary Assumed Into Heaven and St Adalbert, or, as it best known as, the Esztergom Basilica. This wonderful edifice and place of worship is also a main tourist attraction for non-religious people who enjoy the spectacular view from the basilica’s dome over the surrounding landscape.
It is said that the present church was built over the foundation of several earlier churches. The initial one was actually the first cathedral in Hungary, erected by Stephen I of Hungary between 1001 and 1010. Due to its strategic position, the Castle Hill became first the seat of Hungary’s rulers, then the main centre of the Catholic Church of Hungary. The current Classicist-style basilica was built in the 19th century as the biggest church building project of those times. The consecration festivity took place on August 31st 1856 in the presence of Emperor Franz Joseph and with the tunes of the Esztergom Mass composed by Ferenc Liszt specially for this occasion.
Designed as a huge ecclesiastical complex on the Castle Hill of Esztergom, the basilica should have been a veritable Hungarian Vatican, but not all parts of the project were realized. However, the cathedral and the surrounding buildings is a monumental, beautiful and harmonious Classicist masterpiece of architecture.
Facts and details about the Esztergom Basilica:
- It is the largest church and the tallest building in Hungary (Surface: 5,600 m²; Size: 118 m long and 49 m wide).
- The dome has a diameter of 33,5 m and is 71,5 m high inside and 100 m high from outside (400 steps from the crypt)
- Echo: it has a reverberation time of more than 9 seconds.
- The altarpiece (13,5 × 6,6 m, depicting the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, by Girolamo Michelangelo Grigoletti) is the largest painting in the world painted on a single piece of canvas.
If you are not big on religion or architecture, the beautiful panorama on the surrounding landscape from the basilica’s dome will surely take your breath away!