Look at the basilica from across the river and you’ll see its huge, shimmering reflection on the dark waters of the Danube — it’s magical
Esztergom is a small town found on the bank of the Danube, not far from Budapest. It is an ancient, significant place: it was the royal seat of Hungary for two centuries and has been the centre of the Hungarian Catholic church for over 1000 years. It was the birthplace of the first Hungarian king, St. Stephen, and also the site of his coronation.
Nowadays, the majority of Esztergom’s historic sites are of a religious nature; it is often nicknamed the ‘Hungarian Rome’. It holds, for example, the Primate’s Palace, the Franciscan monastery, and the Basilica of Esztergom, a masterpiece of Classicism. The importance of the latter is such that is has earned its place on the 10,000 Hungarian Florint banknote.
Esztergom’s basilica is the largest church in Hungary: it is 100 metres tall and the inner diameter of the cupola is a 33.5 metres. It makes you feel very small indeed. On the southern side of the basilica is the Bakócz chapel, a precious heritage from the Hungarian Renaissance. Italian craftsmen built it from red marble for the archbishop Tamás Bakócz at the start of the 16th century.
The view from the top is just as spectacular as the basilica itself. You need to scale more than a few stairs to get there, but it’s more than worth it when you do — though there is also an elevator. The basilica is a giant among men: Esztergom’s other buildings shrink into insignificance in comparison. Its only rival is the great, winding Danube.
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