August 31: house of God, monument of resilience

2012/08/31 § Leave a comment

On this day in 1856 the Primatial Basilica of the Blessed Virgin Mary Assumed Into Heaven (Esztergom, Hungary) was consecrated.

In its cycles of destruction and rebuilding the basilica is a short history of Hungarian woes: the first church–the country’s first cathedral–was built on this site (upriver from Budapest on the way to Vienna) by the land’s first king.  Stephen I directed the construction in the first decade of the eleventh century when Esztergom was the capital.  The church burned down and was rebuilt only to be ruined by Czech invader Wenceslaus III in 1304.  Several improvements were made just in time for the Süleyman to rampage across the town in 1543 during the Ottoman conquest of Hungary.  Three centuries would pass before the country was stable enough to consider reconstruction of the cathedral.  In 1820 efforts were begun to return the site to its original administrative and architectural glory.  The basilica is not just a house of worship but a statement building, a grand take that to former and would-be transgressors.  This whopper measures 390 by 160 feet and is taller than any other structure in Hungary; its dome reaches a hight of almost 330 feet with a diameter of 110 feet.  having survived the Revolution of 1848, the new classical building was completed in the mid-nineteenth century and inaugurated with great ceremony, including the performance of a mass prepared by the great Hungarian composer Franz Liszt.

Image: from the river (from this source)


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