Saturday, July 26, 2014

Budapest: St. Stephan's Basilica

Another favorite building in Budapest is the St. Stephan's Basilica. Even better was that we stayed just down the street so walked past it several times a day. While a beautiful structure, this Basilica is a perfect example of how religion can get commercialized. First, you are accosted at the entrance with flyers for the upcoming organ concert of the day (which has a fee). Okay, fine, the musicians need to earn a living, no problem. And we went that evening and it was really awesome. Then, you enter the main doors and are asked for a "donation" (for the upkeep of the church). Then a few steps in the door, you have the traditional candle offerings (another fee). And if you wanted to climb the stairs to the dome lookout area (and of course you must!) you had to pay for that too. All of this was irksome, but not yet annoying. The annoying bit came when we approached the Holy Right Fist. This is the mummified fist of St. Stephan that is on display near the back of the church. If you want the relic to light up, you have to pay a fee. Seriously? I have to pay a fee for some back lighting of  a mummified hand?! Are you kidding me? Needless to say, we did not see the holy fist . . . yeah there's a joke there, I know, but I've been disrespectful enough today.
Another gorgeous day - perfect for capturing photos of the church.
We did pay for a candle - a habit we've gotten into when traveling. Maybe it even helped this time?
I wish I had gotten a closer photo - thought I did. This Basilica is one of only 2 in the country (in the world?) that doesn't have a sculpture of Mary or Jesus in the altar area. Instead it is . . . you guessed it, St. Stephan. 
A beautiful building, though, can't deny it.
The organ. We did come back for the organ concert, which was spectacular and worth every penny.
 See? You think I make this stuff up, but if you look closely, you'll see the fee to illuminate the relic for 2 minutes. Honestly!
That's the relic there - as you can see (or actually not see) you can't see a thing unless you pay the fee.
Then we took the elevator and then the stairs (because we didn't see the second elevator) to the panoramic dome. Some great views of the city.

 We did take the stairs down - mostly so I could get this cool photo!

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