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Saint Stephen's Basilica

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Saint Stephen Basilica: Budapest's religious center

Published by flag-ph Rhomir Yanquiling — 6 years ago

Back in the Philippines, I used to attend mass almost every weekend. This religious commitment of mine continues even when I transferred to Budapest. This is not to convey the impression that I was such a religious devotee, but that it was a family undertaking during the weekend. Being new that I was in the city, I was searching in google what Christian churches I can visit in the city the next Friday or Saturday. After almost an hour of google search, I stumbled upon the Saint Stephen's Basilica

The site which I have googled out provided detailed and rich information about the church and I decided to explore how will I be able to get into the location of the church. So I used google map to possibly learn how to get into the Saint Stephen's Basilica Church. I really wondered how people in the olden times were able to track places and pinpoint directions without getting lost most of the times. The GPS technology that we have really made our life easier. And this was what I yielded in the google maps. 

Accordingly I needed to ride the tram 2, 49 or take the metro if I want to go to the church as early as 7:30 in the morning. It takes around 5 to 7 minute ride from Jaszai mari ter to Eotvos ter and three (3) stops and the rest can be done through walking.

Why such early to go to the church? Simply because I wished to attend the first mass of the day. In my native town at Lingayen, taking the first mass during the weekends is advantageous as it allows you to go to the market for good early bargains. People flock during ealy morning to get fresh produce and fresh meat from the farm. So I would like to try attending the fist mass during this day, although it was not necessarily Saturday that day I intend to go to the Saint Stephen's Basilica.

With that being said, the next day I woke up early, fixed my bed, went to the bathroom for a quick warm shower and headed to my room. I prepared an easy-to-cook breakfast to possibly give me the needed energy for the day. Then I immediately headed towards the Jaszai Mari ter.

There were only but a few passengers when I took the tram. Only a few passengers were there. Once I was aboard, I enjoyed the scenery near the river in this side of the city. Without being aware of it, I was already at my last stop. I almost missed it and should I miss my last stop, I would walk a bit longer going to the direction of the Saint Stephen's Basilica.

I alighted from the tram and walked some few meters. Being bad in getting directions, I used my ever useful google map. It showed that I was just a few meters away from the Basilica. I passed through several other buildings until I saw a flock of people heading towards an interior street which I reckoned is pointing towards the direction of the Basilica. I took note of it and tracked the same direction. I follow five other strangers who were heading towards the same direction. After three minutes and approximately fifty meters from where we were, I can already see the Saint Peter’s Basilica from far afar. I walked and along that street there were several restaurants, coffee shops, and hotel establishments whose names I could no longer exactly recall (if my memory serves me right the name of that prominent hotel was Hotel Central Basilica).

In this picture, you would notice that the basilica is a towering structure even from a distance. I took this photo in one of my visits to the place. Notice how elegantly imposing and stunning the Saint Stephen's Basilica. You cannot help but admire this terrific religious structure. The engineer or architect of the Basilica must have spent a pretty substantial amount of time just to be able to finish this grand masterpiece.


The Szt. Istvan Square is a spacious square. It is where the Saint Stephen's Basilica stood and other establishments found along the area. Take note of the crowd in the left side of this photo. This is, I recknoned, a guided tour which started outside the Basilica and perhaps continued in the other parts of the basilica.


The Location

The  Basilica can be found at Szt. István tér, district V. Be sure to go to the church during its official hours. It is generally open for public during Mondays to Sundays. During weekdays, it is open from 9:00 in the morning to 5:00 in the afternoon. During Saturday, it is open from nine in the morning to 1 in the afternoon. At Sunday, the church opens from 1 pm to 5 pm. If you are interested to know more, this website is really informative and instructive: https://www.budapestbylocals.com/st-stephen-s-basilica.html.

The location of the Saint Stephen's basilica is easy to trace. Whereever you may be in the city. you can just google out where you may head towards the place's direction.

My Impressions

Once I get to reach the square where the Basilica is located I have had  some magnificent views of the entire structure of the church as well as its surrounding buildings. I would say the church is of neo-classical tradition as evidenced by the artistic designs that pervade its exteriors and interiors. It was such a towering structure in the city that it is considered to be the tallest church in Budapest.

When you enter the church itself, there is no fee being charged. But if you are generous enough you may as well donate 200 forinth to help keep the general upkeeping and maintenance of the church. An old man in the entrance greets you with a smile. Being a first-timer to the place as I were, I forgot to drop a euro or two in the donation box, but just instead followed the entering crowd. But on my succeeding visits, I always make a case of giving something to the church from my modest means.

As the name itself suggests, the church was named after the first king of Hungary, Saint Stephen. I had a friend whose name is Stephen. As we were formerly a part of the Spanish colonial empire, most of the names of the Filipinos have their Roman and Spanish origins. Stephen, a friend of mine is fondly called ‘Esteban” in Filipino.


Once you get inside the church, you would notice the amazing and equally beautiful designs and artistic creations in both the sides and the ceilings. When I made my way inside the church, I noticed that there were lots of tourists who were taking pictures, most of them were Chinese. The church staff members were asking the tourists not to take pictures while the mass is going on as it disturbs other people from doing their religious thing.

Do you know that the Basilica houses some important religious relics? Among them includes the sacred right hand of Saint Stephen which was mummified. I did not have the chance to see this but this tidbit is really interesting.

This picture of mine was taken inside the basilica when the mass has not yet started. You would notice that I was clad in a relatively thick clothing. At that time, the temperature was already consistenyly going down and getting colder as autumn leaves and winter is about to set in.


Do you want to get a wide expanse view of the entire city? No worries, you only need to go up the cupola and viola! You have the entire city in sight!

What you can do in the basilica?

While this place is a religious ground, it does not mean that you can not make your stay here a little pleasurable. There are a number of things that you can do in this part of the city.

Go up the cupola and view the entire Budapest city

One of the best views of the city can be seen up the cupola. With small fee, you would have a 360 degree circumferential view of the city of Budapest. If you remember the scene in the Bible when Jesus was brought by the dark angel to tempt him, presenting him the entire world, the same feeling you may have when you reach the top with the entire city in sight should somebody tempts you to offer the world and its riches. The Basilica appeared to be the tallest structure at least in the city of Budapest. I can almost compare its height with the city's Parliament.

Sip a cup of coffee or dine

Along the grounds of the city, you would find some coffee shops and restaurants which offer delicious and mouth watering Hungarian dishes. Walking further, there were Chinese restaurants which also offer equally appetizing dishes. In the eastern side of the church, there is a Starbuck where you can drink your favourite beverage or refreshment. 

 Attend a concert

I understand that a concert inside the church is being held every Thursday considering that it has a good acoustics. You may find this stuff interesting and shell out a few bucks to witness a grandiose concert.

Just stroll in the Szt. Istvan Square

The basilica stands on the Szt. Istvan Square and once you reached the square you would find some interesting structures and establishments. Immediately you will notice the two fountains in the square. I overheard from a tour guide who, together with a group of tourists momentarily stopped at the two fountains to educate his audience that these fountains were dedicated to the first Hungarian king and his wife. If you are fond of gastronomy, enjoy dining and drinking along the different food stalls and restaurants near the basilica itself. 

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