The building of Budapest’s largest church was not carried out without problems. Building was begun in 1851 based upon the classicist designs of József Hild. In 1868, after Hild’s death, the dome collapsed due to a bad foundation and the building was continued under the direction of Miklós Ybl, in Neo-Renaissance style. However, during the building Miklós Ybl also died, and thus József Kauser completed the Basilica in the year 1905.
At the tympanum of the main portal the Virgin Mary is portrayed as the Patrona Hungariae encircled by Hungarian saints. According to Hungarian religious history, St. Stephen, the first king of Hungary, entrusted into the keeping of the Virgin Mary the crown that he had received from the Pope to symbolize the nation of Hungary. This is why the Virgin Mary can be seen in various depictions wearing the Hungarian crown on her head and also why Hungary is said to be the “Country of Mary”. The imposing dimensions of the Basilica only become truly evident from the inside. In the dim interior one feels quite small, looking up into the mighty dome, where far above, a mosaic representing God, Jesus and the angels looks almost real.
In the Basilica’s chapel of Saint Leopold one will find the so-called “Holy Right Hand”, the right hand of St. Stephen, first king and founder of Hungary. Every year, on the 20th of August, thousands of believers take part in a procession accompanying the relic celebrating the festival of the St. Stephen.
A beautiful panorama of Budapest is visible from the observation area of the 96-meter high dome. From this view from above, one can see the bridges across the Danube, the castle, the city’s forest and the green spot of Margaret Island – a sight which truly compensates for the climb-up.