I was staying in Slovakia which has so much to offer with all areas of interest covered, it is also in a great location making it easy to hop across the borders into neighbouring countries. Today we we were heading across the River Danube into Esztergom, Hungary, to look around the magnificent Esztergom Cathedral.
HHistory has it that in the middle ages there once stood 7 churches on Castle Hill, then in the years between 1822 to 1869 a Cathedral was erected around its predecessors bringing together its spiritual heritage and making this Hungary’s largest church.
The 360 degree views are breath-taking, every view has a story, each turn over looks somewhere else I want to go and explore, the Danube, the views across the river back into Slovakia, different areas of Hungary, and this stunning Cathedrals surroundings.
Once inside the atmosphere is peaceful, the sun is beaming in through the stained glass windows lighting up the room with rainbow colours. There are tours with bilingual tour guilds, English signage and brochures are also available. This place is huge so it’s not a surprise to find the world’s largest altar-piece (size: 13 X 6,5 m) made by Grigoletto was painted on a single canvas picturing the ascension of Madonna. The central dome is 72m-high – this can be seen for many kilometers around. From inside as you look up its hard to stay balanced as you take in this magnificent sight. It amazes me how these buildings ever got constructed……..
Time to enjoy a coffee and admire the view of the Danube and the Maria Valeria Bridge (destroyed in 1945 and reconstructed in 2001) connecting Esztergom with Párkány (Sturovo) in Slovakia. In front of that between the Danube and the hill stretches the Baroque cityscape of Watertown (Víziváros) with its two-towered church.
On the northwest side of the church is the entrance to the basilica’s treasury, an Aladdin’s cave of vestments and church plate in gold and silver and studded with jewels. It is the richest ecclesiastical collection in Hungary. Sadly no photographs are allowed in here. We carry on through the huge rooms then head down 50 steps into the Crypt, a series of vaults with tombs guarded by monoliths representing Mouning and Eternity. Among those at rest here is Cardinal József Mindszenty.
It doesn’t feel like we have spent 3 hours walking around the cathedral. There is so much to take in and see, it is easy to find your way and room guides will answer any questions you may have.
The area surrounding the Cathedral has plenty more to offer in the way of exploring… May be a trip up the Danube, a ride on the narrow-gauge railway to see the sights of Esztergom, the Keresztény Museum or a wander along the banks of Danube.
Next… back into Slovakia heading towards the Tatras Mountains. A three hour drive away through pretty villages, past more historic landscape then off the motorway to wind our way along the steep mountain roads to our next destination.