Sorry for the long break gang, having a bust life gets in the way of blogging all the time.
St. Stephen’s Basilica is the largest Catholic church in a Catholic nation and thus “spectacular” does not even begin to describe it. Now, it is not to be compared to St. Peter’s in Rome, but unlike that great place, you can get up close and personal with St. Stephen’s.
It lies a mere two blocks from the Ritz-Carlton and Deak Square. Although the back end is right on one of the main streets in Budapest, the right way to approach it is from the St. Stephen’s Square at its entrance.
From the entrance you can either go into the basilica itself or be more adventurous and climb the stairs to the observation deck that surrounds the dome. There is also an elevator for those who can’t take the stairs. Both require a small admission price of 2-3 Euros.
Starting with the basilica part first, it is really stupendous. Please keep in mind that this is a functioning church so be quiet and don’t expect to wander around wherever you want to go. There was a wedding going on when we arrived. My wife, who is Catholic, really was impressed by the venue.
Now to climb the stairs! It is a pretty fair workout to climb about six floors of winding staircase up the top level of the basilica. At this level they have some of the ancient artwork displayed.
Much to my wife’s chagrin, we were still not at the observation deck. We climbed another 3-4 floors of stairs, but there is an elevator. Note that even with the elevator, you still have to climb one last floor to reach the deck. Climbing through here, you are actually between the inner dome which was in the picture from inside the church and the outer dome which is seen from outside. Pretty cool to see this as an engineer. My wife was not impressed and got pretty scared looking down. Be warned!
Finally, we reach the observation deck surrounding the dome and the views up here cannot be beat! The first photo shows the Ritz-Carlton hotel and the second the square in from of St. Stephen’s. I should note the there are plenty of nice restaurants to eat in down there after this arduous climb.
St. Stephen’s Basilica is definitely one of the best things we experienced in Budapest and I recommend you put it on your must do list.