In the heart of Budapest stands St Stephen’s Basilica, an emblematic architectural masterpiece. Witness to centuries of history and faith, this magnificent neo-renaissance cathedral captivates all its visitors with its splendour and its historical and religious importance.

The basilica can accommodate 8,500 visitors (!) and is the largest church in Budapest. It is dedicated to Saint Stephen, the first Christian king of Hungary. His right hand, the country’s most important relic, is kept in one of the church’s chapels.

History of St Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest

The basilica took over 50 years to build. The first plans for building the cathedral date back to the early 19th century, but work did not really begin until 1851. The original architect, József Hild, designed an impressive scheme for a church that would reflect the grandeur and spirituality of the Christian faith.
However, construction was interrupted several times due to financial problems and Hild’s untimely death in 1867. These interruptions led to changes in the church’s original plans. The architect Miklós Ybl then took over the project and brought his own ideas to the design of the cathedral.
Ybl opted for a neo-classical, neo-renaissance style for the cathedral, incorporating imposing architectural elements such as Corinthian columns and a large central dome. His design aimed to create a structure that would inspire respect and admiration, while embodying the spiritual values of the Christian religion.
Sadly, Ybl died in 1891 before seeing the cathedral’s final completion. However, his successor, József Kauser, continued the work according to Ybl’s plans, and the basilica was finally consecrated and opened to the public in 1905.

Majestic architecture

St Stephen’s Cathedral in Budapest is a remarkable example of neo-classical and neo-renaissance architecture. Designed to reflect the grandeur and solemnity of a cathedral, it features an imposing façade and impressive architectural details.
The basilica’s main façade is dominated by a series of Corinthian columns supporting a triangular pediment. At the centre of the façade is a portico topped by a large rose window, adding a delicate touch to the imposing structure. Decorative sculptures adorn the pediments and architraves, depicting religious and historical motifs.
Above the main façade rises a large central dome, almost 96 meters high, which is one of the most emblematic elements of the basilica’s architecture. The dome is richly decorated with frescoes and relief motifs, adding to the grandeur of the whole.

Inside, the basilica has a traditional Latin cross layout, with a 73 metre high central nave flanked by aisles. The columns and vaults are magnificently adorned with sculptures and decorative motifs, creating an effect of grandeur and beauty.
Interior St Stephen's Cathedral in Budapest

The altars and side chapels are also carefully decorated, with sculptures, paintings and stained glass windows that tell biblical stories and scenes from the lives of the saints.

The Holy Right Hand of St Stephen

St Stephen’s Basilica is home to a highly venerated and unique relic: the mummified right hand of St Stephen, the first Christian king of Hungary and the country’s patron saint. This relic is kept in a special reliquary inside the cathedral and is on display to the faithful and visitors alike.
The mummified hand is presented in a glass or precious metal reliquary, finely decorated and illuminated to attract the attention of the faithful. It is usually displayed in a special chapel or in a place of great importance within the cathedral, often accompanied by other relics or devotional items.
The hand of St Stephen is considered a sacred and precious relic for the Hungarian Catholic faithful, as it symbolises the direct connection with the saint and with Hungary’s Christian history. The faithful often come to venerate the relic, offering prayers and tributes in the hope of obtaining spiritual blessings and favours.

Check out this superb short video of St Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest:

Organ concerts at the Basilica:

St Stephen’s Basilica is one of the capital’s most beautiful neoclassical buildings and will be the setting for this exceptional organ concert. The arias on the programme are performed by Kolos Kováts, one of the country’s most talented concert and oratorio singers. He has been awarded the Liszt Ferenc Prize, the Artistic Merit Prize and the Kossuth Prize. The artist Eleonóra Krusic, who has played with numerous orchestras in Hungary and abroad, will also be performing on the flute during the concert:

Duration: about 70 minutes. For Information on Organ Concert and tickets – click here

Classical music concerts at the Basilica

Come and enjoy the incredible series of classical baroque concerts in St Stephen’s Basilica, performed by the Duna String Orchestra and professional organist Gyula Pfeiffer. Enjoy magnificent Baroque music in Budapest’s largest and most impressive church. Discover the music of the greatest composers, while admiring the vast and immensely decorated interior of St Stephen’s Basilica.

Duration: approximately 70 minutes.
Information on Classical Music Concerts in St Stephen’s Basilica
and tickets – click here

Opening times for visits to the St Stephen’s Basilica:

The St Stephen’s Basilica is open to visitors from Monday to Saturday from 9am to 5.45pm and on Sundays from 1pm to 5.45pm.
The panoramic terrace is open Monday to Sunday from 9am to 7pm.

The ticket office is open Monday to Sunday from 9am to 6.30pm.
A range of admission tickets are available (church only, panoramic terrace, treasury, etc.) as well as various discounted rates (children, students, EU over-65s, ….). Admission prices on this link.

Guided tour of the Basilica

Avoid the entrance queue and take a guided tour in English of St Stephen’s Basilica: discover its history, admire its works of art and see the relic of St Stephen’s mummified right hand. You can also choose to visit the terrace and its 360-degree view, or the dome and treasure:

Information St Stephen’s Basilica Tour and Ticket – click here

How do I get to St Stephen’s Basilica?

The basilica is located in Pest, in the city centre, in the 5th district, and is easily accessible by public transport. By metro, get off at ‘Bajcsy Zsilinsky út’ station (yellow line M1) or at the ‘Arany János utca’ stop on the blue line M3. By bus you can take lines 15 and 115 to get off at ‘Hercegprimás utca’ station.

Address: St Stephen’s Basilica, szent István tér 1, 5th district , Pest – map.

You can also discover our article on the must-see sites in Budapest on this link, as well as our articles with detailed itineraries for visiting Budapest in two days, three days and four days.