Városi Kalandor Part 10: The oldest churches in Budapest
You don’t have to be a practicing believer to appreciate the beauty of a church, or just ask yourself, can we see everything on the walls of God’s house that has stood for centuries? As we approached the holidays, we gathered for you the five oldest churches in Budapest that are still operating today, let them answer the question themselves!
Downtown parish church
At first glance, the downtown parish church in the vicinity of Elizabeth Bridge does not seem to be more than a large baroque building, the smaller counterparts of which can once be found in a settlement that once belonged to the Habsburg Empire. The truth, on the other hand, is much more exciting!
Beneath the church lies the walls of the fortress of Contra Aquincum, the ancestor of the city of Pest: one of its bastions was built on the first Christian church during the reign of King Stephen.
The cathedral, rebuilt by the Tartars, was rebuilt in the 14th century: first with a series of Gothic details and later with Renaissance elements, the huge sanctuary of which was used as a mosque by the Turks (a memorial to the east is preserved). The two-tower Baroque façade of the church, which can be seen today, began to be acquired during the 18th century, but minor alterations were made until the 20th century, such as the braid-style reconstruction of the tower helmet or the demolition of the shops adhering to the side walls.
Although the building of Budavár, which praises the genius of Frigyes Schulek, gained its present appearance during the reconstruction in 1896, the size and weight of the church have not changed much since its foundation in the 13th century. While the Church of Mary Magdalene, erected at the northern end of Castle Hill, was built as a small chapel for Hungarian believers, the three-nave Church of the Assumption has been used by the German-speaking community for centuries.
The tower, which is 78 meters high and has a roof decorated with 150,000 Zsolnay tiles, was originally born in the Gothic style in the decades after the Tartar invasion, continued to operate as a mosque during Turkish rule, and was rebuilt by the Jesuits and a dormitory and seminary.
Schulek, who also listed the Fisherman’s Bastion, freed the church from all Baroque elements between 1874 and 1896 to create a perfect synthesis of medieval and neo-Gothic architecture. The building, which reflects the French influences, has witnessed several coronations (Charles I, Francis Joseph IV, Charles IV) over the centuries, but one of the most successful rulers of Hungary, III. Béla and his first wife, Anna Châtillon.
St. Michael’s Chapel in the Premontrei Monastery on Margaret Island
If we could travel back to the 13th century and visit the island of Rabbits at the time, we would find several castles, thriving church life and three monasteries on it. The Premontreys settled on the island somewhat before the Dominican nuns and the Franciscan minorities, but their monasteries were built at the same time in the second half of the 1200s – with the exception of the Chapel of St. Michael, which belonged to the Premontreians, dating back to 1227.
The fact that visiting the chapel today we see not a ruin similar to the other medieval monuments on the island, but a beautifully reconstructed Romanesque sanctuary is the merit of Kálmán Lux, who restored the building in 1932, with the oldest working bell in Budapest and above the gate. with a copy of the relief of the St. Michael’s Chapel in Košice.
Zincotai Lutheran Church
Zincota was annexed to Budapest in 1950, but long before it was an important settlement for you: the clearest proof of this is the Lutheran church building.
The earliest parts of the baroque tower of worship date back to the end of the 11th century, after the Tartar invasion the building was enlarged in two Gothic styles (two towers with pointed arches were erected at that time). , and with this the Lutheran church of the monument, which has been operating for the longest time, is also a monument, beating almost a century on the tympanum church of Deák Square. At the end of the century, they rebuilt the church to Baroque taste, receiving a traditional onion helmet during a later restoration.
St. Elizabeth Parish Church in Árpád House in Alsóvízivárosi
The building, also known as the Capuchin Church in its common language 466 years ago, is the youngest member of our selection: it was not originally visited by Christians, but by the Muslim citizens of Buda. The temple began its career as a mosque for Pasha Tojgun around 1555: it once housed shops, a bath, a madrasa and a minaret, which was first occupied by the Jesuits and then by the Capuchins in 1693 after the liberation of the city.
Later, the church dedicated to St. Elizabeth in 1716 underwent a significant renovation: first, Matthias Nepauer provided it with a baroque façade, and then Ferenc Reitter designed a new, romantic look to repair the injuries he suffered during the War of Independence in 1848-49. and in the 1900s, several details from the Turkish period were made visible.