One of the focal points for any visit to Budapest is the St. Stephen’s Basilica. Located in the Inner City District, it is in the heart of the old town region with all of the restaurants and shopping. Visiting the basilica is free, but there is a recommended donation of 200 Ft (~2 euros) for entering the cathedral. The inside of the cathedral is quite beautiful with all of the ornate gold arches and wonderful domes. Another highlight of the basilica is the observation deck, which has spectacular panoramic views of the city from a different perspective than those of the Castle District or the Citadel.
We actually visited St. Stephen’s Basilica twice, once on a rainy day to see the interior of the cathedral and then a second time when the weather was better to go to the observation deck and take photographs of the city. Due to its central location, the cathedral can be quite crowded with tourists, so you’ll want to be patient as you walk around the cathedral. Depending on the time of year, there can also be long lines waiting to get up to the observation deck, but we didn’t have too long of a wait while we were there.
St. Stephen’s Basilica also offers organ concerts at different times during the week and a schedule is available if you are interested. The cathedral is named after St. Stephen I, who was the first king of Hungary. Construction began in 1851 and it wasn’t completed until 1906. The domes of the basilica and the Parliament Building are the same height and they dominate the skyline of the Pest side of the Danube River. They were purposely created to be of equal height in order to symbolize the balance between church and state in Hungary.
It is possible to get guided tours of St. Stephen’s Basilica, but we found that most people just tour the cathedral on their own. The basilica is one of the most important sites to visit during a trip to Budapest and we would definitely recommend taking the time to go the observation deck for the views.
There are many sights to see when visiting a city with a history as rich as Rome’s and one of those is certainly the Pantheon. There are many fascinating things about the Pantheon, including the fact that it was originally created as a temple to worship all of the Roman gods. Unlike most other temples that were built to specifically honor a single god, this temple was meant to be a place where one could visit to gain favor from all of the gods. Even more interesting is that it was converted to a church in the 7th century and has been in continual use throughout its history.
Walking the exterior of the building provides you with the true sense of how old the Pantheon really is as the walls are worn with age and ruins of an ancient wall are preserved at its base. The shape of the Pantheon has been an inspiration to generations of architects that were fascinated by its dome that opens to the heavens. Once you step through the threshold of the Pantheon and enter the basilica, you are greeted with a sense of juxtaposition. Unlike the worn exterior, the interior is adorned with beautiful art as well as marble walls and floor.
You should certainly expect there to be plenty of crowds as you visit the Pantheon as it is likely on every tourist’s itinerary, as it should be. It is still a church called the Basilica di Santa Maria ad Martyres and the altar is quite notable as you enter the Pantheon. You should certainly go to the center of the large, circular room and look up at the dome with its hole to allow light and suggesting access to the heavens. You should also take time to look at all of the statues that are in the niches of the portico as well as the reliefs and paintings as they are all incredible to see.
With so many places to see in Rome, such as the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Trevi Fountain, etc., the Pantheon is definitely an important location to visit. Unlike the Acropolis of Athens where the temples are isolated on a hill that overlooks the city, seeing the Pantheon in the winding, narrow streets of the city is quite a unique experience.
When traveling throughout Europe, the domes of cathedrals tower above the cities. Rome, however, seems to have more than its fair share of domes that dominate the skyline. It isn’t just the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica, domes seem to be almost everywhere in the city. As interesting as domes can be when seen from the outside, they are often elaborately decorated inside and were often the focal point for the artists of their time. This week’s Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge is Arch, Dome, or Half-Circle. Looking at the skyline of Rome it almost seems as though you can find a dome around every corner.