St. Stephen’s Basilica, Budapest

transept saint stephen budapest
The view across the transept of the Basilica. One of the best ways to look through the church as a whole, I think. Especially if you went to the trouble of bringing the wide angle lens.

While I was wandering around St. Stephen's Basilica in Budapest, I found myself thinking of that distinction that some people make between “tourist” and “traveler.” Google it sometime and you'll see that about 5 million people have written something about it.

altar saint stephen budapest
The altar and dome. They have some projection screen hanging from the dome, which is sort of ridiculous in a place like this.

There are all sorts of theories, but the one that seems to make the most sense to me is that a tourist carries a selfie stick. It just says, “Look at me,” instead of “Look at that.” I can't think of any other meaningful distinctions.

Of course, other “travelers” would say they go to the out of the way places and go out of their way to meet the locals. We do that, too. But we also visit a lot of “touristy” places, such as St. Stephen's Cathedral in Budapest.

Hey, there's a reason why they're “touristy.” It's because they're extraordinarily attractive and represent some higher level of man's achievement.

organ saint stephen budapest
The organ is in the back of the church, which sort of cheats you out of the place the rosette ought to be. But that's more of a Gothic thing, I guess.

I like mountains as much as the next guy, and I love photographing nature. But, honestly, what really turns me on is art. The expression of man's artistic tendencies is vastly more interesting to me than nature.

dome st stephen budapest
I love this dome's decoration, especially the representation of the four evangelists at the corners.

I think it's because art is within us all. Everyone has the potential to create something extraordinary. And that's why I like looking at extraordinary stuff like St. Stephen's. At first glance, it seems a sort of run-of-the-mill Eastern European neoclassical (with Baroque touches) monument. But the more you look, the more it reveals.

statue saint stephen budapest
A statue of Saint Mary. I think she's a local Hungarian saint, but I couldn't find any more info on her. Love the statue and the lighting, though. She's one of the first things you see upon entering the Basilica.

Its design, its color, its line and shape, and its sculpture make a whole that's more than the sum of the parts. Sort of like Budapest in general, which I now count as one of our favorite places.

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14 thoughts on “St. Stephen’s Basilica, Budapest”

  1. Thank you for sharing these beautiful photos! That statue of Mary is stunning! My wife and I are hoping to get to Budapest soon, and we will definitely be spending some time in this wonderful cathedral.

  2. Your images are incredible! Budapest is my favorite city in Europe so far. We look forward to visiting again. We missed seeing this wonderful place. We went by it often enough, but for some reason did not visit. I hear about the tourist versus traveler debate all the time. We do both, and don’t care what anybody says. It’s like you said , there is a reason a place is touristy in the first place :-).

  3. Thanks, Kemkem. Budapest is easy to shoot, because it presents so much unusual beauty in its architecture. It’s now on the list of our favorite places to be a tourist, or a traveler, or a vagabond, or a gypsy, or a gadabout. Labels are sort of a drag, no?


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