Xploring Hungary: Cathedral of St. Peter & Paul in Pécs

  • 1 Apr 2024 6:38 AM
Xploring Hungary: Cathedral of St. Peter & Paul in Pécs
The Cathedral is among the most important historical heritage of the town. Built in the 11th-12th century incorporating parts of an earlier 4th-5th-century church, the cathedral's current Neo-Romanesque look dates from the late 19th century.

The time when the Italian and French masters created its statues was a golden age in the life of the Catherdal. The 11th-century figural column heads indicate the work of experienced artists. A similar quality can be found at King St Stephen's buildings in Buda and Esztergom.

The current form of the Catherdal was achieved in 1891 with the cooperation of several eminent artists. The frescoes of the main and side naves were painted by the German Moritz von Beckerath and Karl Andrea and those of the chapel by Bertalan Székely and Károly Lotz. The figural wooden carvings are the works of György Zala and György Kiss.

The red marble tabernacle situated in the Corpus Christi chapel was finished in early 16th century. Thought to have been created in Esztergom by Johannes Fiorentinus, it is a supremely valuable example of Hungarian Renaissance sculptural art. Thanks to the carefully carried out alterations, the carved stone artefacts were preserved. The statues of apostles on the main facade are the works of Baranya-born György Kiss.

Stones - and refurbishments

The surviving carved stone details demonstrate that in the 12th century a stone carving workshop of European significance operated here, whose work was commissioned throughout the country. This stone-carving workshop in Pécs developed a unique style over that century and the most beautiful examples were created in the 13th century. One of the most well-known and attractive carved stone works is the former high altar made in 1241.

The reliefs seen today on the walls of the southern passage leading down to the crypt (Creation, Expulsion from Paradise, Images from Paradise, Samson 'uprooting' the tree scene, figures of the shepherds and the three wise men) are copies created by György Zala in the late 19th century. The original reliefs, together with the rich carved stone material, were moved to the cathedral lapidary.

During Turkish rule the capitals of the stone carvings were smashed. However, the grape branch and bird ornamentations in a locally adapted early Christian style were left intact. The church itself was used as a warehouse by the Turkish.

After the Turkish left the passages to the crypt were sealed and stairs were built to the elevated sanctuary from two sides thus unifying the whole interior space of the cathedral.

The ruined vaults of the southern Corpus Christi chapel and of the Mary chapel were reconstructed. This was the time when the choir stalls between the western columns were built. In 1786 Stephan Dorffmeister painted the Corpus Christi chapel, and in 1793 the doors of the sacristy and the chapels were ornamented with marble frames.

The baptismal well created by Pécs goldsmith Simon Aichinger was placed there in 1795.

In the early 19th century the cathedral was in a very poor state of repair. The tender for its restoration was won by Mihály Pollack who, in this great period of Classicism, produced a neo-Gothic, Egypt-style design for the main facade.

This was only a coulisse, since it had to cover the incoherent supporting structures of previous complex constructive solutions. Building of the Mór Chapel and style modifications of the four towers were carried out during this restoration.

At the same time Mihály Bartalits created the huge statues of the apostles which were subsequently moved onto the balustrade of the Episcopal Seminary's garden (Papnövelde Street No 1-3).

The basilica gained its current look in 1891 following a large-scale thorough renovation. These alterations were carried out under the direction of Vienna architect Friedrich von Schmidt, who reproduced the Romanesque style of the first cathedral. 

Pécs, Dóm tér
Phone: 72/513-050

Source: hungarystartshere.com


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