Some Greek, Serbian, Dalmatian and Bosnian fugitives, who were fleeing from the Turks, settled down in Szentendre. From the 1521 fall of Belgrade (“Nándorfehérvár”) there were several Serbians coming to Szentendre but a significant number of settlers only arrived around 1690. In 1696 Csarnojevics Arszenije patriarch presented a request for the Administration Chamber of Buda for an accommodation in Pest. He did not obtain it, therefore the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Buda was founded with a centre of Szentendre (Izbég).
A medieval church used to stand at the location of the current bishopric cathedral. The Belgrade settlers built their church of stone, therefore the church is still called Belgrade Cathedral.
As its rank suggests, the bishopric cathedral consecrated to Virgin Mary is the most extensively ornamented and the most highly respected building of all the churches in Szentendre. However, its measures are not emphasized because of its position, located in the gardens of the bishopric palace and the building of the Serbian Orthodox Ecclesiastical Art Collection, embraced by century-old trees in an area enclosed by a stone fence.
According to a sign placed on the wall of the tower, it was built between 1732 and 1734. The foundation-stone of the present cathedral, whose architect is unknown, dates back to 1758. The walls were already standing by 1762, whilst the roof structure was made during the summer of 1763 according to the plans of the famous master carpenter called Webber. Between 1765 and 1770 the ornaments and the inner furnishing had been made as well. The beautifully ornamented gate shows some similarities with the gates of the Podmaniczky Castle of Aszód, designed by Jung József in 1767. The mason work was done by Pfister András and the construction of the walls of the church garden by Rombold Mihály. The ornamented vases decorating the gate were made by Ginesser Márton in 1772. By 1811 the glasswork of Fischer Ferenc was also finished. In 1881 the spire of the church tower fell down in a storm. In 1883 the internal wall paints were repaired. In 1885 the bells had to be recast after a fire. In 1891 the cathedral was robbed and several valuable furnishings were taken away.
In accordance with other local Serbian churches, the main front of the church is looking westwards with the sanctuary looking east. On the contrary with the changing practice of the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church still stuck to this rule even during the Baroque era.
The church has a height of 48 metres, its main front bell tower is the tallest amongst the towers of Szentendre. Above its Rococo styled, carved main gate the stone frame of a former window can be seen with the choir window also visible above it. The main front is divided by Doric half pillars. The cornice of the arched, spiral gable holds a Rococo jug and a stone obelisk. The bell tower is divided into three levels by horizontal mouldings. Most of the doors and windows of the church are round arched.
The side is divided by buttresses. In the first field from the direction of the tower the small gates of the passage corridor and the ante-chapel can be seen. The most decorated section is at around middle height, with the carved Rococo portals from Prague with sections of the passion of Jesus Christ. The door wings were carved from oak.
The interior and the furniture of the 32 metres long, 14 metres wide and 15 metres high cathedral are extremely valuable. The big icon was made between 1777 and 1781 by the famous painter of Syrmia, Ösztovics Vazul. The gilded linden pulpit and the Episcopal throne with baldachin are both worth attention. The church is divided into three sections, the “women’s church”, the “men’s church”, situated one step lower, and the sanctuary. The nave is capped by four sections of Czech vaults, which are divided by crosspieces. The elliptical arched area in front of the sanctuary is capped by a vaulted, flattered quarter-dome. The arched choir construction projecting in the centre settles on two Doric marble pillars. According to the Orthodox rules, the service had to be attended standing, so pews are missing in the bishopric cathedral of Szentendre, with only a few leaning chairs along the walls for the wealthy and for the aristocrats. Here lies the body of the composer Vujicsics Tihamér.
Walking in the church’s garden by the stone wall, several stone and marble gravestones can be seen. Next to the main entrance of the church there is a patriarchal building, which is said to have belonged to Patriarch Arsenije III.
The building of the Serbian Orthodox Ecclesiastical Art Collection can be found In the garden of the church. It was created out of the former vicarage in 1964. Icons, kerchiefs, covers, gospels and several other spiritual artworks and church historic curiosities were sent here from all over the country.
The number of Orthodox people peaked in 1790 at 2036, 366 of whom belonged to the parish of the bishopric cathedral. However, their numbers started to decrease straight after their arrival. Only seven priests were serving (one for each church) between 1796 and 1828. Following the significant decline in the 19th century, today the population of Orthodox people living in Szentendre is around 100-120. Amongst all the Serbian churches of the town, this is the only one with regular service.
Hungarian source: Wikipedia
The Greek merchants fleeing from the Turks settled down in the area between Fő tér and the Danube. In the 17th century they built a wooden temple and in 1752 the current church was constructed. It was designed most likely by Mayerhoffer András, as the Serbian Church of Pest and the Cathedral of Kalocsa (both of which were designed by Mayerhoffer) both have several similarities with it. The patron saint of the church is Saint Mary.
This church is one of the symbols of the town, being the most characteristic and the most well-known among the nine churches of Szentendre. The church stands on the eastern part of Fő tér oriented east-to-west. It combines Baroque and Rococo characteristics. Its main front with the central tower is divided into three sections by four wall pillars. Its extensively ornamented main stone gate has an arched layout and oak door wings. Above the door there is a fragmented gate lintel and a hood mould. Along its sides the spiral pillars, foliated capital and pedestal support a twined parapet balcony. Above the choir window there is a blind window separated by a laid, oval lintel and on its two sides there are further blind windows with stepped arches. Its front tower is 28 metres tall and on the edges of the moulding of the arched pediment there is a stone jug and a small obelisk on each sides. At the edges of the tower lesenes are extending with Ionian capital. The specialities of the stone-framed bell windows are the small, arched stone balconies. Its spire with single echinus is supplied with the cornice of the clock.
Its stone-framed oak side entrance is decorated with rocailles and shells. Above it there is the slightly worn fresco of Saint Constantine and Saint Helena in an arched, fluted frame. Next to the entrance there is a red marble gravestone having Greek inscription. It carries the memory of Tolojanne Demeter, who was born in Macedonia and died in Szentendre in 1759 at the age of 48. The sides are divided into four sections by double pillars. In each part there is a round-arched window and a laid, oval window above it. The sanctuary is enclosed by the three sides of the trapezium. The fenestration of the back windows is similar to those on the sides. The exterior of the church needs to be reconstructed soon. It measures 20 x 9.5 metres outside and 17.5 x 7 metres internally.
The most valued characteristic of the church is its proportional and harmonic interior. The nave is topped by three sections of barrel vaults and the choir is topped by Czech vaults. An elliptical arched arcade runs along under the stone choir. The walls are accompanied by double, square semi-pillars having Rococo capitals. The fields and barrel vaults are decorated by frescos in stucco frames presenting different scenes of the life of Jesus. The Episcopal throne is ornamented by a painting of Saint Nicholas. One of the characteristics of an orthodox church is the iconostasis, the wall of icons. It separates the nave from the sanctuary, where only the people taking part in the ceremony are allowed to enter.
The valuable Rococo wall of icons of the Blagovestenska Church was made by Zsivkovics Mihály using a painted oak framework in the 1790s. The iconostasis, which exploits the whole interior height of the church, is divided into two levels by the central moulding. The lower level is divided into five fields by the pillars. In the middle field, on the Gate of the Tsars some pictures of the Annunciation and above the gate the pictures of The Last Supper can be seen. On the left field of the Gate of the Tsars there are two pictures: Mary with the Baby Jesus above, with a quite small picture below, representing a scene of the life of Jesus. Right from the gate there is a similar composition, with the benedictory Jesus above and another scene of his life below. The two outermost fields each have two pictures. On the left, Saint Stephen, the Deacon, with the scene of the Angelic Salutation below it. On the right Saint John Chrysostom with another scene, the Angelic Salutation below it. On the upper part of the iconostasis, above the crown moulding the Blessed Trinity can be seen with Virgin Mary in the middle and with the twelve Apostles in a volute structure on its sides. At the top of the wall of icons there is the crucified Jesus with the Pietà on the left and with Saint John on the right. Most pictures of the iconostasis have extensively gilded frames.
Among the valuable furnishings of the sanctuary are the red marble altar and the preparatory table (“zsrtvenik”) for the Holy Communion, made by coloured stones in 1754. On its evangelistary, made by a goldsmith master from Moscow, the reliefs of Christ, the four Evangelists and Virgin Mary can be seen. Late Baroque style gilded, wooden candelabras and a painted cross with triangular arms can be found on the altar table.
The Early Classicist-styled building of the old Serbian Orthodox school (which hosts the well-known Ferenczy Museum today) is built together with the northern side of the church. All schools of Szentendre were controlled by the Orthodox Church until 1787, when Joseph II issued edicts regarding the education and made German a compulsory language at schools. The town council had to organize Greek and Catholic schools. However, the construction of school buildings took so much time that the governor’s board ordered the Blagoveštenska Church to be transformed into a school and a teachers’ residence. Fortunately this did not happen as the death of Joseph II brought the withdrawal of the edict. The school was built at the left side of the church in 1797, serving as the institution of the Serbian teachers’ training college between 1812 and 1816.
The birth register of the parish was kept common with that of the Preobraženska Church from 1751. At the end of the 1920s this parish was also closed, ceasing its regular service. The church is managed by the parish of the bishopric cathedral since then. Nowadays this church of the Fő tér mostly operates as a museum and it is open to the public for an admission fee every day (except Monday) from 10 AM until 5 PM.
Hungarian version written by Bajkó Ferenc, www.templom.hu
The Lutheran Church was built at the location of the Lutheran congregational house and was introduced to the public in August 2004. It was designed by Kocsis József (holder of the Ybl prize), Kocsis Barnabás, Kocsis Gáspár and Kutasi Attila. Its sanctuary has an eastern orientation and its main gate overlooks the inner courtyard. The most beautiful view of the church can be seen from the other side of the Bükkös Stream, looking over the beautiful inner courtyard, the slender bell tower made of two different materials and the Romanly-simple body of the church.
Parish Church of Saint Andrew of Izbég
The number of Catholics of Izbég, which was built together with Szentendre, has become significant from the 18th century. It was originally a Slav settlement, where most of the residents were Orthodox and the Catholics had to attend the service of Szentendre, as they were so poor that they could not even afford to build a small chapel of their own. In 1782 they constructed their own cemetery and belfry. From 1791 they were under the supervision of the Parish Church of Szentendre, however, they still did not manage to have their own church and even their belfry was dilapidated by 1846. During the First World War their two bells were called into requisition, and then they were set up at a new location at Szentlászlói út. Meanwhile the Orthodox stone church of Izbég became so abandoned that the Orthodox Church decided to sell it in 1928. However, the Catholics could not afford to buy it and they got permission in 1936 to perform their service at the local nursery school.
In 1937 the architect Opaterny Flóris prepared the construction plans of the Roman Catholic Church of Izbég. Arrangements such as collecting money from all around the country started straight away. The appointed location was next to the belfry. In 1938 the town donated 300 m3 quarry stones and the digging process had started.
Unfortunately the church could not have been built since the collection of the money was made impossible by the exceptional situation originating from the re-annexiation of the area called Felvidék. In 1940 the civil engineer Enökl Elemér and his wife donated their piece of land at Szentlászlói út to the church for 10 years. The inner walls of the house were taken down to create a small chapel. In 1944, when the parish church bought the Peter-Paul Church instead of the church of Izbég, the congregation was really disappointed. Even within the circles of the Orthodox Church there were some conflicts since their churches were acquired by different denominations one by one. During his 1946 visit the Primate of Hungary, Mindszenty József suggested the establishment of the chaplaincy of Izbég, which was founded in the following year. The idea of buying the church came on the agenda once again, and at this time the parochial church council approved it, so in 1948 the run-down church building was bought for a price of 7000 forints and 180 quintals of wheat.
This previously Serbian Orthodox church, built in 1738, was consecrated to the Holy Spirit and in the 18th and 19th century it has been renovated multiple times. In 1806 its spire was covered by copper and in 1867 a copper globe and an iron cross were added to the tower, which has fallen off in 1887. The current spire was made in 1896. It was consecrated by archbishop Mindszenty József in 1948 and reconstructions started in the same year, devaluating its art historical significance. The nave was added an extra piece of vault eastwards, on its sides a lineal transept was built and the previously elliptical-arched sanctuary was replaced by an octagonal one with a three-sided closure.
The east-to-west orientated Baroque style church has a floor space of 121 m2 and stands surrounded by a stone wall on a square at the edge of Izbég. The cornice of the tower protrudes forward, with rounded edges at the front. The tower is divided by two thick, robust cornices. On the octagonal edged spire with echinus the year 1896 can be seen. All of the windows of the church are elliptical arched. The windows of the entrance, the choir and the lattice-window of the staircase are stone framed. On the two sides of the towel the moulding of the pediment is arched. The sides are quite simple without any decorations.
In 1928 the Orthodox people took all the furnishings and the bells of the church with them. The interior of a capacity of 150 seats is capped by a barrel vault divided into four sections by crosspieces. The pews were brought to this church in 1951, they are from the well-known, demolished church of Regnum Marianum of Budapest. Its frescos were painted by Jeges Ernő, who was the founder of the Art Colony of Szentendre. Behind the altar table Saint Andrew can be seen as the main piece with Saint Peter and Saint John the Baptist by his sides. The tabernacle of the altar was made by Lőte Éva in 1939. It has a small and portable double-manual organ, donated to the church. The performers are mostly clerical music bands in the church playing light music. Previously a simple harmonium was used solely in the church. The Byzantine cross from the 18th century, which shows Jesus Christ in the middle and the four Evangelists at the four edges, was passed on by the Serbians.
One of its four bells, weighing 65 kg, is out of use and stands on a belfry. This damaged, welded bell with Late Baroque motifs on its upper edge was cast by Joseph Brunner in Buda in 1792. There are three bells in the bell tower. The biggest one weights 206 kg, cast in Őrbottyán by Gombos Lajos in 2000. The bell is decorated with the Hungarian coat of arms with the Holy Crown. The bell of 110.5 kg was donated by M. Kovács Kálmán and his wife in 1912. It was cast by Novotny Antal in Timisoara (“Temesvár”). An interesting fact about the bell is that on the upper part of the exterior there are holes with late Baroque motifs. Its inscription says: “Dear Lord, your will shall always be done at all times.” The funeral bell weights 30 kg and it was cast by Franciscus Millner in Buda in 1810. At one side it has Saint Christopher with the relief of the crucified Christ on the other.
In 1914 Tuharszky Ferenc donated his flat in his will to the parish church of Szentendre to sell it to have a bell (consecrated to Saint Paulina in memory of his wife) cast for the people of Izbég. The parish accepted his offer. Tuharszky asked the church to ring this bell every year on the name-day of his wife after the evening chime (angelus) for an hour. Since later it has become quite urgent to build a school in Izbég, the town council called upon the parish to disregard Tuharszky’s will and place the property at the town’s disposal in order to give place for a school. As a result of this, the above mentioned bell has never been cast.
Hungarian source written by Bajkó Ferenc, www.templom.hu
Saint John Roman Catholic Parish Church (Church Hill/Castle Hill)
The church at the top of Castle Hill is the oldest building of the town. According to the archaeological research in the middle of the 1950s, the church got its final form in four bigger phases.
The nave was built between 1241 and 1283 with a sanctuary and sacristy having square termination. It was almost totally demolished by the bailiff of Visegrád during the devastation of the town. It was then rebuilt in Gothic style in the 14th century, when the final ground-plan was formed. The church was almost totally ruined again during the Ottoman period and was only reconstructed in the 17th century. The next reconstruction and enlargement in Baroque style happened with the aid of the Zichy family in 1710. Historians think that Franciscans had already been serving in the town at that time because the church got a white plaster-work with red bands around the windows. The last significant reconstruction, when the church got its final form, took place between 1742 and 1751.
The parish church is listed as a historical monument since 1957. An overall renovation of the church was performed in the 1990s. In the historical centre of Szentendre, at the top of the Castle Hill the building, originating from the Middle Ages, draws attention even from a great distance. It has an east-to-west orientation and a projecting bell tower with pyramid hip roof . The floor space of the church is 200 m2. The tower, which has a height of 28.91 metres and a clock from the 18th century, has a cross at the top of the spire with pyramid hip roof. The clock got an electronic winder in 1970. The latticed window of the tower has a round arched closure, all other windows of the church have segmental arched closure. The single sectioned buttresses along the walls are Gothic. There is a sundial on the buttress, under the tower, at a height of 5.8 metres. It was carved from a single stone in the 1300s and it is a unique relic of the history of astronomy in Hungary.
The sanctuary ends with three sides of the octagon. Two entrances are on the southern side: one below the tower and one in the middle of the nave. The gates have Gothic stone frames.
Inside there is a single nave of 13.27 metres height, 35.4 metres length and 11.8 metres width. The ante-chapel below the tower is separated by a wrought-iron lattice. There are three giant Early Baroque groin vaults between its crosspieces, which are lying on crowned pilasters. The sanctuary is topped by a double sectioned, intersecting groin vault.
There are three side altars. The altar for the worship of the Pietà was erected along the northern wall. It was made by Teleky Károly in 1871, showing Virgin Mary and Jesus in the tomb. The statue of Saint Barbara and Saint Catherine can be seen on the altar, next to the painting. The previous altar was of Blessed Virgin Mary, provided with an indulgence from Pope Pius IV in 1776.
On the sides of the sanctuary the altars of the Biblical Magi and Saint Andrew can be seen. The altar of the Biblical Magi consists of two paintings and was made in 1748. The lower painting represents the Biblical Magi paying their respect to Jesus. The upper painting depicts Jesus giving the keys of the kingdom of heaven to Peter. The statue of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque can be seen left to the pediment of the superstructure, with the statue of Saint Margaret on the right and the statue of the archangel Saint Michael at the top. The altar of Saint Andrew from 1755 can be seen on the other side of the sanctuary. It also has two paintings. The lower one shows Saint Andrew with two statues on the sides, the statues of Saint George and Saint Elizabeth of Hungary. This is a rare representation of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary without roses. The upper painting shows Mary with the Baby Jesus, with the statues of Saint Stephen I and Saint Emeric of Hungary on the sides and the figure of God and the Holy Spirit above.
The pulpit is placed next to the altar of the Biblical Magi. On its parapet there are the four Evangelists, on the sounding board there is Jesus with a cross, and on the inner part of the sounding board there is a dove symbolizing the Holy Spirit. The painting on the main altar in the sanctuary depicts John the Baptist and the baptism of Jesus with the figures of God and the Holy Spirit at the top. The highest point of the altar is a God’s eye symbol carved from wood. The painting of the altar was made by Carolus Schöfft from Pest to replace the two former paintings in 1818.
The Ecclesiastical chair in the sanctuary was made of wood, the Good Shepherd, the papal tiara and the Holy Crown of Hungary are carved on its back. The baptistery is from the 18th century. It is worth to also mention the bronze chandelier in the centre of the nave, made by Szemián Ágoston in 1909.
The frescos on the walls were made by the members of the Painter Association of Szentendre (Bánáti Sperák József, Onódi Béla, Jeges Ernő, Heintz Henrik and Pándy Lajos) between 1933 and 1938. These paintings are extraordinary because they show the biblical scenes with a background of Szentendre. On the left side of the main altar there is the news-bringing angel. On the right side there is the Angelic Salutation. The figures of God and the Holy Spirit can be seen above. On the northern side wall one can observe the paintings of the Biblical Magi paying homage to Christ, the 12-year-old Jesus in the church, Jesus and Mary Magdalene at the house of Simon (with the Parish Church and the Orthodox Cathedral in the background) and the whipping of Jesus in the presence of Pilate. Above the triumphal arch the meeting of Jesus and his 12 Apostles is depicted and to the western side wall, the figures of Peter and Paul and the Ascension of Jesus were painted. The painting on the ceiling shows Hungarian saints like Saint Stephen I, Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Saint Ladislaus I or Saint Margaret of Hungary paying homage to Mary. The four corners of the ceiling fresco bear the symbols of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
The church has four bells. The big bell was consecrated to Saint Andrew. It weighs 594 kg, has a lower diameter of 106 cm and a sound of F#. This bell was cast by Walser Ferenc in Budapest in 1928. Apostle Andrew can be seen on the bell with a cross and the following inscription: “The bell of Saint Andrew, when you toll, may every toll of yours call the heretic to the hassock of the Lord”. The bell of Saint Joseph weighs 350 kg, has a diameter of 86 cm and a sound of B. This bell was made in 1948, in the workshop of Szlezák Rafael in Rákospalota to substitute the previous bell that weighted 366 kg and was taken away during the Second World War. A part of its inscription states: “Saint Joseph, protector of the Sacred Family, be our guide in our life and our patron in our death!”. The exterior of the bell bears a relief of Saint Joseph. The small bell weighs 196 kg, has a diameter of 30 cm and a sound of C#. It was consecrated to Saint John the Baptist. Its inscription is the following: “Our Lady of Hungary pray for us! Every toll of mine is a beat of the Hungarian nation’s heart, a supplicatory prayer for Greater Hungary and for the Resurrection of Hungary. From the followers’ donations, for the worship of the patron of the church, anno domini 1926. Walser Ferenc Bp.” The baptism of Jesus in the waters of the Jordan River can be seen on the exterior of the bell. The funeral bell weighs 27 kg and has a diameter of 38 cm. It was cast by Hegedűs József in 1843, hence being the oldest bell of the church. Its Latin inscription is the following in English: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!”.
The Baroque church hides modestly on the right bank of the Bükkös River, in front of the southern “gate” of the downtown. It was consecrated to the archangels Saint Michael and Gabriel. It has an east-to-west orientation and the altar was positioned eastwards following the strict rules of the Orthodox Church. This means that the main front is not looking at the street but to the hill of the Roman camp, therefore the building does not really rise above the surrounding buildings. There are trees and buildings tightly around it so it is hard to take a pictures of it, as of the Preobrazsenszka Church. The exterior of the church is rather simple. There are stone-framed, round arched windows between the projecting buttresses. The outer wall of the sanctuary with elliptical arched ground-plan is divided by the plain and narrow lesenes into five fields. Blind windows with voussoir can be seen on four of them (two on each sides). The window in the centre of the sanctuary is similar to the windows of the nave. The Late Baroque gate with stone carvings on the western side leads to the interiors.
It can clearly be seen that the design of the tower and the church is different. All windows of the 23 metre-high, three-storey tower, which markedly projects from the main front, are elliptical arched having stone-frames. Two pilasters are extending on both sides of the door on the ground floor. Above the door there is the choir window. The thick cornice, covered by tiles, is extending on the whole main front above the choir window. A stone jug can be found on each arched top cornice, like in all other orthodox churches of Szentendre. There are lesenes on both sides of the bell window. Ornaments characteristic of the Late Baroque style can be seen under the cornice of the clock without church clock. Above the clocks eaves moulding with pediment closes the wall of the tower. Its spire has a simple pyramid hip roof. According to the register of 1855, the church had four bells. One of them was cast in 1851 and the biggest, which was donated by Boskovitz Ignác, weighted almost 10 quintals. Three of the bells were taken away during the First World War. The church is encircled by a thick stone fence. The wrought-iron gate on the side of Kossuth utca leads to the church garden, where old gravestones can be seen.
The interior of the church is a little dark with only a single nave (having Czech vaults). It is divided into three sections by double crosspieces lying on double pilasters with Ionian capital. The stucco-like painted ornaments on the walls are worth pointing out. The church has no choir. Ornamented closing columns made of wood separate the sections of women and men, the pronaos and naos. The leaning chairs, the choir benches and the Late Baroque throne (which portrays Mary and the Baby Jesus) can be found on the sides of the nave. The Episcopal throne is a double columned, Empire-styled throne with a painting of bishop Saint Nicholas.
The most valuable part of the church is the iconostasis (a wall of icons), which was created much earlier than any other in Szentendre. This is the only iconostasis in Szentendre that was made according to the Post Byzantine Greek principle. It is a transition between the previous small and the upcoming high walls of icons. The creator, the place and date of creation are still unknown. According to unwritten tradition, immigrants brought it with them from their land of origin, Požarevac, so the latest time is could have been made is the 17th century. It is pure and simple, in contrast with the other iconostasis of Szentendre. It is not divided by any cornices and the arched pediment leaning towards the ceiling is also missing. The plentifully gilded pictures are separated by some ornaments with bunches of grapes and trailers. Only the central of its three doors, the Gate of the Tsars, is original. The two others on the sides had to be replaced in the 20th century because the original ones were aged. According to the writings of Tóth Antal, the former gates had Gothic arches. The columns standing on the sides of the gates were also supposedly made later on.
There are oval, gilded fields with flowers projecting from their fretwork patterned branches. In the upper field, at the top of the gate, the Blessed Trinity is depicted. At the top of the door wings on the right and left side the scenes of the Angelic Salutation can be seen. Underneath, on the other fields, the four Evangelists and the eight Prophets can be found. On the sides of the Gate of the Tsars, the patron saints of the church (Saint Michael and Gabriel) are depicted and a picture of Saint George can also be seen amongst others. Above the Gate of the Tsars, in the middle the Deesis, an iconic composition can be seen on the sides with God the Father, Jesus, Mary and John the Baptist. The Deesis is surrounded by 6 apostles on each side. In the uppermost row 16 prophets and Fathers of the Church can be found. At the top of the iconostasis there is a Christian cross, Mary and John the Apostle can be seen next to it.
The birth register was kept in the Požarevačka Parish from 1752. This was the last Serb parish to be closed in 1930. Since then the Saborna Parish, the parish of the Episcopal Church is performing the duties. There is no regular church service here.
Hungarian version written by Bajkó Ferenc, www.templom.hu
Serbians coming from Bosnia settled down at the northern part of the town. Their first wooden church was built in 1690. The current building was built by rich Bosnian tanners of Szentendre called “tobakos”. A commemorative tablet at the main front of the building states that the construction started in 1741 and finished in July 1746. This date seems to be too early judged based upon the style of the church. It is probable that the classical ornaments from the time of Louis XIV were added during a significant reconstruction and renovation after 1770. The tower with the spire was made in 1852 according to the plans of an architect from the capital, Goldinger János. The church is encircled by a thick stone fence. The fence’s ornamented ironwork gate is framed by Corinthian pillars, modeled from the Serbian Church of Pest. The gate was made between 1803 an 1806 by a local locksmith, Olhauser József. At the top of the gate there is a pedimented aedicule with the remains of an icon.
The front of the Orthodox church, consecrated to the Transfiguration of Jesus, is looking towards the memorial cross at Szamár-hegy (Donkey Hill), with its back pointing to the Danube at Bogdányi utca. Its main front is divided by four Doric pilasters. On the tower fitting into its front, above the entrance there is an elliptical arched choir window with ornaments and sill moulding. On its sides there are empty statue niches in round arched closures. An Early Classicist tympanum can be found above the choir window. On the sides of the tower classicist stone vases can be found at the edges of the volute arched spiral gable. An ornamented stone parapet is under the elliptical arched windows of the bell tower. At the corners of the tower Corinthian lesenes are extending all the way to the lower part of the cornice of the clock. The eaves moulding above the cornice of the clock is created with triangular pediment, similar to the one of the Požarevačka. On its spire with double echinus the Orthodox cross bottony can be found. The tower has a height of 37 metres, from which the spire is 11 metres and the wall is 26 metres.
There are 3 Baroque buttresses and windows with sill moulding on the northern and 6 on the western side. The building ends in an apse closing into three sides of the octagon at the Bogdányi utca side. Smaller windows can be seen higher on the outer wall of the sanctuary. A scene of the Calvary, a renewed fresco of the crucified Christ can be seen in the stone-framed niche with broken arch. The segmental arched side gate with its spiral keystone on the western side was made of red marble. Above it, a fresco illustrating the Transfiguration can be seen in a frame with fretwork pattern.
The 21-metres long and 8-metres wide interior has no choirs, it is capped by four sections of Czech vaults. The crosspieces that separate the sections of vaults rise from the Late Baroque crowns of the pilasters dissecting the walls. The sanctuary is capped by a half-dome. The “women’s church” is under the vaults on the tower side, one step further up than the “men’s church”, the Sanctuary is two more steps higher. Unlike the “women’s church”, the “men’s church” and the sanctuary have red marble floor covering,. The pulpit at the centre of the “men’s church” is also made of red marble. The leaning chairs were carved around 1800. The Throne of Mary, painted green and ornamented with Rococo carvings, holds the miraculous image of Holy Mary, altogether with silver offers. There are three paintings on the parapet of each choir pew. According to an inscription on it, the table for the Holy Communion in the sanctuary was donated by Mladen Stepanovics in 1746. The evangelistary and the ornamented chandelier are also outstanding items of the interior.
The iconostasis of the church is of great fine arts value. It is one of the most beautiful amongst the Hungarian walls of icons and is the first that was built in the Russian-Ukrainian type. The wooden structure is painted green and gilded. The construction has five stories, each smaller than the one below it. The paintings are separated by Corinthian columns and shoulders. Each painting has a gilded background and treated with a special process originating from the Italian trecento to imitate Gothic velvet. The four Evangelists and the scenes of the Angelic Salutation can be seen in the oval fields between the carvings of the Gate of the Tsars. Saint Nicholas, the Transfiguration and Virgin Mary are in the first row, left from the door. Jesus the Saviour, John the Baptist and John Chrysostom are at the right. In the second row, above the Gate of the Tsars there is an angel with the Veil of Veronica and on the sides six scenes are present, each from the life of Jesus. The twelve Apostles are in the third row with the icon of God the Father in the middle. The upper two levels show the Prophets with a Calvary-scene in the middle. At the top of the wall of icons there is a Christian cross, with Mary and Saint John next to it.
It has a single bell which weights 200 kilograms. It had to be obtained in 1948 from the church of Izbég, as all other bells of the church were destroyed during the two World Wars. The inscription on the bell tells that is was cast by Johann Brunner in Buda in 1788. The crucified Christ can be seen on its outer surface. The Slav inscription under the relief is the following: “This bell became the property of the church consecrated to the Descent of the Holy Spirit on 25 May 1780.”
The birth register was kept on the presbytery from 1751 to 1920. The church is only open during the Serbian patronal festival of the church, with festivities being held on 19 August in the church garden.
Hungarian source written by Bajkó Ferenc, www.templom.hu
Reformed Church – Opovačka
At the time when the Reformed Church Diocese of Dunamellék was founded, many converted to the new faith thanks to the work of Calvinist preachers in the Upper Danube territory. This was because a sermon on their mother tongue was easier to follow for the simple farmers than the Latin service. Turks persecuted the Catholic parsons and monks more than the Protestant preachers, this was also a reason for the rapid spreading of the Reformation. The presbytery was founded in 1615. The first written record of the parish is from 1620. From 1626 on, all of its clergymen are known by their name. In 1670 there were 181 Reformed inhabitants of the town. After the Ottoman period, the Counter-Reformation made the congregational life impossible so the Reformed people moved to the nearby Csapdi. In 1796 there were only four Reformed people living in Szentendre. They attended service at Pomáz, Szigetmonostor or Óbuda.
The Church became stronger again only from the 1820s. The church service came from Szigetmonostor. In Szentendre there were no places built for church service for long. Until 1835 service was held in the flats of Czikora Sámuel, Konta István, Grétzi Sándor or Tornyai Sándor, not on every Sunday but only on bigger holidays. In 1835, the donation of the followers enabled them to acquire a building at the top of Szamár-hegy (Donkey Hill). It was converted to a house of worship. It was the subsidiary church of Pomáz from 1845. The chapel was reconstructed in 1852. In 1913, in the year of the foundation of the independent parish, arose the idea that the congregation could buy the Orthodox Opovačka, which was abandoned for years and on the brink of destruction by then. Jordán István, a landowner from Pomáz set up a foundation for buying it. The money needed for buying the building came from the income of the foundation.
The church was built by Serbian fugitives from Opovac. They came with the other Serbians at the end of the 17th century and settled down west from the Castle Hill. As most Serbian communities, they only built a wooden temple first in 1692 and then in 1746 they built not far from it a stone temple as well. According to some sources, the wooden temple used to stand left from the current church. The building was extended to the west in 1770. The tower was added only in 1777. The birth register was kept from that time. The parish closed down in 1900. The Reformed Church eliminated all the former furnishings and formed the interior according to their own rules. Its iconostasis was made based on the works of a master from Kiev. The iconostasis was transferred to the Serbian Orthodox Church of Hercegszántó in 1913.
The church stands a few streets away from the Belgrade Cathedral. It has an east-to-west orientation and is the smallest and simplest of the Serbian Orthodox churches of the town. Its front, small tower has a height of only 18 metres. The stone-framed, arched and decorated entrance under the tower has original wings from the 18th century and it is surrounded by two pedestalled pilasters. The window above the entrance is round-arched and has a windowsill. There are empty statue niches on the hollow, arched main front, at both sides of the tower and one below the bell of the tower. Statues were not placed into these as Orthodox people do not create graven images (statues) according to the Second Commandment. The flamboyant, Rococo stone vases were removed from the top cornice next to the tower in the 1950s. Above the round-arched windows of the bell tower are the church-clock and the cornice of the clock. The cupola has a low roof with a globe and a star at the top. On the sides there are 3 windows each, the buttresses with stairs are from the 18th century. There is a side entrance on the northern side, therefore the middle window is a little smaller than the others. It is interesting to note that its five-sided sanctuary has an irregular ground-plan so it is assumed to be built onto the foundations of a previous church.
Its interior is 22.5 metres long and 7.5 metres wide with 240 seats. The ceiling of the pure, white-walled interior can be divided into four vaults. The pews, the pulpit, the Seat of Moses and the Communion table were made after 1913. Earphones were installed into the pews for the hearing impaired. The small organ of the church, which has 1 manual and 4 registers, is standing on the simple wooden organ loft. The instrument was made by Angster József from Pécs for the Reformed Church of Patapoklos, in Baranya County. The congregation bought the instrument in 1982 and brought it to Szentendre. Above the organ a barrel vault can be seen.
Three bells were cast for the church by the Serbians from Opovac. These were removed in 1913 to be used elsewhere by the Orthodox Church. Currently there is only one bell present, which was cast by Johann Nuspickher in Buda in 1717, weighing 400 kilograms. Nuspickher was the first bell caster of the liberated Buda after the Ottoman rule. He died in 1717 so this bell was one of his last works. This bell used to be at the Roman Catholic Church on Castle Hill. The bell was originally consecrated to Saint Andrew. On one side Virgin Mary can be seen with Baby Jesus, below it the following inscription is present: “Holy Mary, pray for us”. On the other side: “Saint Andrew, pray for us” and below it: “I was cast by Johann Nuspickher in 1717”. The bell tolls prior to the service for about 5 minutes.
The Church got informed in 1871 that the Catholics wanted to have two new bells cast and to sell the old ones, which were still in good shape, to the bell casters. The presbytery decided to buy the bells that were waiting to be sorted out in 1872. The small bell, cast in 1793 and weighting 100 kilograms, was consecrated to Virgin Mary and Saint Nicholas. It was under requisition during the First World War.
Hungarian source written by Bajkó Ferenc, www.templom.hu
Saint Peter-Paul Catholic Church/Peter-Paul Church (The Ćiprovačka)
The Peter-Paul Church is the biggest church of Szentendre, which was originally built as an Orthodox Church, like all the other churches in the town. There was a wooden church at the same location built in 1708 and consecrated to Saint Nicolas but it was rebuilt from stone in 1750 and was consecrated to Saint Peter-Paul in 1796. In 1991, on the 200th anniversary of the construction of the church, the whole structure was reconstructed for the visit of Pope John Paul II in Hungary.
The fugitives from Ciprovac settled to the southern part of the downtown. Their first wooden church was built relatively late, in 1708. Thanks to the huge number of people from Ciprovac, the construction of a new church started in 1750. The new walls were built around the old ones and before the roof came, the old walls were demolished. The bell tower was the first part that was ready in 1753. The church was ready for service only from 1791. A fire in 25 July 1800 damaged the building so heavily that even the bells had to be recast.
Because of the Serbians’ resettling back home, the number of followers of the Orthodox Church dropped drastically. The Ćiprovačka was the first church in Szentendre that went out of use. The regular service stopped at the first years of the 20th century. The resettled former residents returned at the beginning of the 1920s but only to take away the valuable furnishing of the church. For example the iconostasis can be found today in the Church of Prizren, Kosovo.
The Ćiprovačka was not used then for a long time and became a home of pigeons. At the beginning of the 1940s the mayor of the town formally asked the Serbian Orthodox Church to restore the building, which became dangerous to the neighbouring houses as well, “if failing to do so, it will happen officially for the common good”. So the Church made the town an offer, it wanted to sell the church for 12000 pengő (pengő was the Hungarian currency before 1946). The mayor accepted the offer because he wanted to provide a garrison church for the Ministry of Defence. When the Ministry of Defence refused the church because of the war, the local parson (directed by the diocese) made an offer for it. The church therefore became available not only for the garrison but also for the Christian followers who could hardly find room in the parish church. This is how the Roman Catholic Church became the owner of the building still called Ćiprovačka.
The reconstruction of the building began in 1942 with initial financing from the Mayor’s Office, then increasing financial support from the Catholic Church. The first mass was held on 23 April 1944 and the church was blessed by the parson at the same day.
The impressive building is Late Baroque. However, it also shows characteristics of Orthodox churches, with simple interiors including white walls without frescos. A small, elliptical arched transept intersects the nave next to the sanctuary. Its two apses are the rooms preserved for the choir. Double pillars and arched windows follow the side elevations of the church. The walls are topped by a simple Roman Doric crown moulding. It has a three-storey tower on the main front. The choir window is situated above the entrance on the main front. On the two sides of it there are two blind windows with stepped arches. There is a cornice in the tower with triangular pediment above the hood-moulded window in the staircase. The latticed windows of the bell tower are surrounded by cantons. The downward-arched hood moulds of the bell windows are also the frames of the clock cornice. The simple pyramid spire that softens the weight of the church was made in 1862 and the church clock was made in 1985. At the centre of the nave two red marble gates can be seen, the northern of which is the main entrance of the church. The extensively ornamented gates were made in 1790.
The floor area of the church is 528 m2, the length is 35.2 metres and the width is 15 metres. The nave is 22.05 metres high. From the height of the tower, which is 32.54 metres, 4.7 metres come from the height of the spire. Its inner height is 16 metres. Its inner measures are more emphasized after the removal of the iconostasis, it has 300 seats and has a capacity of 800 people. The nave is capped by four Czech vaults. Six windows are letting in the light on each side. The sidewalls are followed by Ionian pilasters. The walls are pure and white without any frescos. The area under the choir was once the Orthodox pronaos, the women’s area during the liturgy. Its furnishing is really simple and modest. The first wooden altar of the church was made by soldiers in 1944.
The altar and the pews of the chapel of the suppressed Brothers Hospitallers of St. John of God were transported to the church in 1948. Later, in 1952 the pews of the closed chapel of their hospital were also bought. The sculptures of Peter and Paul were brought from the chapel of Esztergom in 1953 to the altar. A ceramic work of Borsody László and Urbán Teréz, called “Húsvéti Bárány” was created in 1978 and placed to the nave-side of the altar. It was followed in 1985 by the Mary statue carved from elm, the work of Markolt Györgyné Gémes Katalin.
New artwork is continuously coming ever since, enriching the church interior. For example the inner furnishing was renewed and a new liturgy area (containing the altar, the pulpit, the ecclesiastical chair and the tabernacle) was designed by Szuromi Imre in 1998. The painting of Kisléghi Nagy Ádám, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ was placed almost floating above the altar in 1999. This represents the Orthodox character of the place with artistic excellence. Two reliefs of Csíkszentmihályi Róbert, the Calvary and the life of Peter and Paul apostles were placed to the wall beyond the altar in the same year. In 2009 the choir received a new organ, built in 1997 by Koloss István. It has 2 manuals and 21 registers and it is perfect for concerts as well. The organ-chest was designed by Szuromi Imre and was made by Váradi János. The most recent artwork is the baptistery, which was created in 2010.