St. Stephen’s Basilica is a magnificent Roman Catholic church in Budapest, Hungary, dedicated to the first king of Hungary, whose right hand is preserved in a reliquary inside the church. It is one of the most important religious and cultural landmarks of the city, as well as one of the most visited attractions by tourists.
The basilica was built in a neoclassical style, with a Greek cross floor plan and a dome that rises to 96 meters, making it one of the tallest buildings in Budapest. The façade is adorned with two bell towers, one of which houses the largest bell in Hungary, weighing over 9 tons. The interior of the basilica is richly decorated with marble, sculptures, paintings and stained glass windows.
The basilica is open to visitors every day from 10:00 to 16:30 (except on Sundays and holidays, when it closes at 16:00). The entrance fee is 600 HUF (about 2 USD) for adults and 400 HUF (about 1.3 USD) for students and seniors. You can also visit the dome for an additional fee of 500 HUF (about 1.6 USD), where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the city. There are elevators and stairs to reach the dome.
To get to the basilica, you can take the metro line M3 to Arany János utca station or M1 to Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út station. You can also take several buses or trams that stop near the church. The basilica is located in Szent István tér, a lively square with cafes, restaurants and shops.
If you want to learn more about the history and art of the basilica, you can join one of the guided tours that are offered daily at 15:00 in English and at 14:00 in Hungarian. The tour lasts about an hour and costs 2000 HUF (about 6.5 USD) per person. You can also attend one of the organ concerts that are held regularly in the basilica, featuring classical music by famous composers.
There are some rules and prohibitions that you should respect when visiting the basilica. You should dress modestly and cover your shoulders and knees. You should not take photos or videos inside the church, unless you pay a fee of 200 HUF (about 0.6 USD). You should also be quiet and respectful during the religious services and ceremonies.
Some of the highlights that you should not miss when visiting the basilica are:
- The Holy Right Hand: This is the most sacred relic of the basilica, believed to be the mummified right hand of St. Stephen, the first king of Hungary. It is displayed in a glass case in a chapel on the left side of the nave.
- The Main Altar: This is a stunning marble altar with a painting of St. Stephen offering his crown to the Virgin Mary. The painting was made by Gyula Benczúr, a famous Hungarian painter.
- The Dome: This is a masterpiece of architecture and engineering, with a diameter of 27 meters and a height of 96 meters. It is decorated with frescoes depicting scenes from the life of St. Stephen and angels holding his crown.
- The Panorama Lookout: This is a circular balcony on top of the dome, where you can admire a breathtaking view of Budapest and its landmarks, such as the Parliament, the Danube river and the Buda Castle.
- The Treasury: This is a collection of precious objects and artworks that belong to the basilica, such as chalices, vestments, statues and paintings. It is located in a room on the right side of the nave.