St. Stephen's Basilica, Budapest

No visit to Budapest is complete without seeing the famous St. Stephen's Basilica.

St Stephen’s Basilica is one of the world's most beautiful churches. It is dedicated to the holy king St Stephen who was also the founder of the Hungarian state. Its construction started in 1851, based on the drawings of József Hild, a leading citizen and architect of Pest and lasted until the dedication of the church in 1905.
 It houses Hungary's most sacred treasure, St. Stephen's mummified right hand. After his death, his body was removed from the marble sarcophagus in the middle of the basilica and hidden for protection in the tomb under the basilica. At that time that the right hand of the king, which remained intact and was believed to have miraculous power, was detached and taken to the treasury of the basilica. The holy relic was stolen and then found by king St Ladislaus who founded an abbey at the place where the Holy Right was found. Pilgrims traveled to see the relic for centuries. After being taken to Bosnia and later to Dubrovnik, Emperess Maria Theresa got it back to Vienna. Then it was transported to Buda and ordered a yearly public celebration on August 20, the day of St Stephen.

During the early 1900s, it was taken to the Sigismund chapel in the Buda castle and remained there until 1944. During World War II, the Holy Right and the coronation jewels were taken and hidden in a cave in Salzburg. Later they were found by the US army, which delivered the Right Hand to the archbishop of Salzburg for safekeeping. It was returned to Hungary, right on time for the procession of August 20, 1945 by three members of the American Military Mission.
It remained in the safe of the Basilica until August 20, 1987, when the Holy Right chapel was dedicated*.
In the cupola of the Basilica, a panorama lookout was established for touristic purposes, visitors can now access the look-out by using the two elevators and some walking, instead of having to climb 364 stairs. 
*texts taken from http://en.bazilika.biz/

St. Stephen's Basilica - Szent István Bazilika
H-1051 Budapest, Szent István tér 1.
Open to tourists:
Monday-Friday: 9.00 am - 5.00 pm.
Saturday: 9.00 am - 1.00 pm.
Sunday: 1.00 pm - 5.00 pm.
1600 HUF including the lifts to the cupola (without the cupola visit: 1100 HUF)
The cupola can be visited between 1st April-31st October.

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