St Michael’s Cathedral is a significant place on the map of Hungary as the coronation site of Hungarian queens for centuries. It was founded in the 10th century by Gisela of Hungary, the country’s first queen consort. The relics of the queen have been safeguarded in the building since 1996. The appearance of the Cathedral has varied throughout its history, from the original Romanesque style to the Gothic of the 15th century and the Baroque of the 18th century. The last major restoration (1907-1910) attempted to restore the cathedral to its Romanesque features.
Veszprém is known for being home to the first and oldest diocese in Hungary. Many of its sacred sites are linked to royalty, especially to Queen Gisela who considered this her favourite city. Of Germanic origin, Gisela of Hungary was the first queen consort of the country and a key figure in the Christianisation of its people. Here are six places of worship to visit in Veszprém, the city of queens!
Together with the cathedral, the Franciscan church of St Stephen is an important building that presides Trinity Square, in the castle district. The church was built in 1730 by the Franciscan monks who arrived in Veszprém in 1681. The façade was rebuilt after a fire in 1909. It has a single nave decorated with frescoes in a Baroque style. The old monastery building standing next to the church, which was once home to the religious order, is the Archbishop’s Palace today.
The Gisela Chapel is located in the castle of Veszprem, very close the St Michael’s Cathedral and the Archbishop’s Palace. The chapel has a two-bayed nave and a sacristy. It preserves frescoes of six saints painted on a life-size scale. The legend goes that when the pagans attacked Veszprém, Queen Gisela was the only member of the royal family at the castle. When the King came to rescue her, the castle was surrounded by the Turks. He managed to sneak in following the signs his wife made with a cross and they retook the castle.
Little has survived of the ancient chapel of St. George, so called because it once guarded the head relic of the king and husband of Gisela of Hungary. The foundations and some wall carvings near the northern part of the cathedral are the only traces that still testify to the existence of this place that for centuries attracted crowds to the city of Veszprem. The chapel is also known as the place where St Geroge's son, prince Emeric, swore his vow of chastity.
St Emeric is an example of the neoclassical religious architecture in Veszprem. It is the lowest church on the castle hill and was built outside the castle walls, next to a convent of Piarist monks, between 1828 and 1836. Four columns guard the entrance to the church. After stepping in, visitors will be welcomed by its late-Baroque interior with frescoes on the ceiling. The high altar is decorated with a painting depicting the St Emeric, made by Ferenc Bucher the Younger. The Piarist monks also founded a school intended for those with fewer resources next to the church. Piarist schools were common back then in Hungary. The old school building is today out of use.
Down the castle hill, next to the waters of the Sed River lays the ruins of the Dominican monastery of St Margaret. The monastery was founded in 1240 by Bishop Bertalan for the Dominican nuns and functioned as an institution to educate young maidens. The church and the monastery were destroyed after the Ottoman occupation of the city. Only the foundation walls and part of the church wall are still visible today.