St. Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest is one of the most beautiful and momentous of religious and tourist attractions. Partly because of the respect for the saint king’s name, the country’s state-founder, the historical importance, and on the other hand the artistic value of the building itself.
To the construction of the church, a donation collection was launched in the 1810’s, but the works started only on 14 August 1851, according to the plans of Joseph Hild, citizen of Pest and architect of the cathedral of Esztergom and Eger. For the actual construction of the Basilica the great flood of 1838, provided reason. The center of today’s St. Stephen’s Square was a small natural emersion on the flat Pest area where hundreds of people were able to take refuge from the surging water, until they were rescued by boats. Flood survivors supported the idea of a large church’s construction with donations, as thanksgiving for their miraculous escape. Hild led the works until his death on 6 March 1867. The city council of Pest entrusted Miklós Ybl with the continuation of construction of the important building, the praised master builder of the era, architect of many public capital buildings, including the Opera House. Because of his death he was not able to entirely carry out the task, the interior and decorative works were assigned to Joseph Klauser, under his leadership they were finished by 1905. A notable date in the history of the Basilica was 22 January 1868, when the dome completed by the plans of Hild collapsed, due to building and material flaw. For the pillars of the dome, a mixed quality and solidity of rock material was used, the dome became onesidedly imbalanced, leading to its collapse. The construction was suspended for more than a year, the disposal of the rubble and the demolition of badly built parts lasted until 1871. For the continuation of the construction Ybl drew new plans, redesigned the old ones in point of structure and appearance. Hild’s hellenistic forms were replaced by Ybl’s neo-classical, neorenaissance design from 1875 and after his death in 1891 the works continued based on his sketches and concept until the consecration of 1905.