The oldest Evangelical Church to be found in Budapest is situated at Deak tér. This is a so-called room church as it doesn’t have towers.
It was built in 1799-1808 according to classicist rules, following the plans of Mihály Pollack. At first the building served as a storage hall for soldier clothing, and was finally consecrated in 1911. It doesn’t have a tower, so it is not supposed to have a bell either. However, at the turn of the 21st century the church was given a set of bells operated by computer, which plays a tune several times a day. Numerous surrounding institutions belong to the church: an evangelical grammar school, an office of ministry, ministry apartments, a bookshop, a museum and a kindergarten.
Matthias Church, also known as the Coronation Church of Buda Castle, is a monumental church situated in the first district, at Saint Trinity Square (Szentháromság tér) in the Buda castle area.
It is the best-known religious building in the city together with St. Stephen’s Basilica. It is a veritable gem of the capital city with its beautifuls lace- stone towers and the high bell-tower, with the Maria-gate as well as the gorgeous interior. The time of its foundation is not certain: some say it was establéished by Saint Stephen, the founder of the Hungarian state and Church in 1015, others believe it was built after the Mongol regime between 1255-1269. It was built into a Gothic church, and King Matthias, whose name the church bears, also continued building it in Gothic style. It was turned into a mosque during the Turkish reign. It was then in the hands of the Jesuits during the XVII-XVIII. centuries when it was reconstructed in Baroque style. The final shape was reached in the XIXth century after a huge-scale restoration of its state both inside and outside. The damages caused by the Second World War and then a bomb outrage in 1999 are still being healed.
The biggest and perhaps most beautiful synagogue in Europe is to be found in Dohány Street in district VI of Budapest.
The building is not just enormous but it is magnificent together with the adjacent courtyard, built in Romantic style in 1854-59. The construction works were led by Frigyes Feszl, based on the plans made by Ludwig Förster. This is a 3-nave hall church with over 3000 seats. Although it was built in accordance with Romantic style rules, it also represents a strong influence of Byzantian architecture: raw bricks, ceramic decorations and domes. The synagogue had a most sad role in history: Its territory with the adjacent blocks of flats was designated as the Ghetto of Pest during World War II, when thousands of people died here. This is why there had to be a cemetery next to the church, in contrast with Jewish traditions. Next to the garden stands the Holocaust memorial park with a metal willow tree designed by Imre Varga (a major Hungarian sculptor), commemoration the victims of Holocaust. One can engrave the name of their deceased relatives on its leaves. The synagogue plays an active role in the cultural life of the capital city too: it often houses classical concerts and cultural festivals.
St Stephen’s Basilica, built in Hellenistic and neo-Renaissant style, is to be found downtown, in the fifth district, surrounded by quiet little streets.
Surprisingly, the architectural structure is not that of a basilica, and its delineation has the shape of the Greek cross. The basilica is extremely rich in works of art, such as works by Bertalan Székely or Károly Lotz. It has five bells, of which even the smallest one weighs 500 kilograms! People started gathering money for its building already in the 1810’s, while construction works began in 1851 only and finished in 1905. Works were headed by József Hild, Miklós Ybl and József Kauser. From its consecration, the church has been the main stage for the Saint Stephen cult, and the Sacred Right arm has been kept here since 1971. Every year on August 20, the Sacred Right arm procession takes place here, when this relic is carried around.