I’ve noticed that I have had a lot of snapshot posts on churches in Europe. But who can blame me?
The churches I’ve seen in Europe were pretty impressive, and St. Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest, Hungary was definitely one of the most interesting ones I’ve visited.
I was in a funky mood when I arrived in Budapest during my 70-day solo backpacking trip in Europe. I didn’t feel like going out; I spent most days inside the home of my Hungarian Couchsurfing host, Maria, playing with her cat Dormi.
The day before I left, I finally decided to take the free walking tour of Budapest, and it was a decision I wish I had made earlier!
The tour group met in front of St. Stephen’s Basilica. It was just the beginning of spring, so there were not too many tourists around. Most of them congregated on the steps, and I’d wondered why, until I realized that it was warmer there.
In the shadows where I had stayed, I was very cold. I decided to go inside when I learned that they don’t charge anything (a lot of churches in Europe charge entrance fees), except if you want to see the treasury.
If the facade of St. Stephen’s was of wonderful neo-classical style, it was even more impressive inside. As always, I took the time to pray first (even if I’m not religious), awed as I was by the grandeur of this most important church in Hungary (the basilica was named after Hungary’s first king).
When I looked up, the view was as magnificent. One can actually pay and go up to the cupola to get a view of the whole city, but as there was a fee (around 1-2 euros), and I knew it would be much colder there, I decided to just take pictures from below instead.
Another interesting thing about this church is that it also has St. Stephen’s mummified hand, called the Holy Right Hand, which didn’t decompose. I had seen it briefly in the reliquary when the light was still on (you have to pay to turn it on for two minutes).
It was nothing special to look at, just a dried right hand, but when you pause to consider whose hand it was, you would understand why it is Hungary’s most important treasure.
St. Stephen’s Basilica is also known for hosting organ concerts. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to attend one when I was there. If you have more time in Budapest, make sure to check out their schedule as I have heard that it’s a must to experience when you visit this wonderful city.
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