The four-tower Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul is the only one among the main churches of the Hungarian Bishopric to preserve its medieval shape.
Its origins are lost in the gloom of obscurity. Probably an Early Christian Basilica used to stand in its place, which was reconsecrated by the Bishop of Salzburg in 871, and later appointed as the centre of the Bishopric by King Saint Stephen in 1009. The two-towered, three-nave Basilica was built in Roman style in the 11th century, on the site of a former church that had been built around 870. The five-nave, cross vault crypt was built at the turn of the 11th and 12th centuries, preserving its beautiful monumental interior even to the present day. Two of its four towers were built at the beginning of the 13th century, while the other two were erected at the end of the same century. The former Basilica still mediates the medieval church’s magic in its renovated present form.
The obelisks decorated with the coat of arms of Bishop Nándor Dulánszky were placed at the inner ends of the balustrade in 1890-91, during the renovation of the Cathedral. It took six weeks for 22 oxen and 5 horses to tow the obelisks from the nearby town of Budafa to Pécs. On the feet of the obelisks four cherub heads can be found among the string patterns at each edge.
The row of apostles seen lining the top of the Cathedral has already been re-formed three times, first in 1854. The current row of statues is the work of Károly Antal, and was consecrated in 1963. The perception, style and attitude of the statues suits the style of Neo-Roman architecture quite well. The 12 apostles create a harmonic, unified row. They are of the same height and only their support legs vary. Their head posture and personal attributes lead to a defined rhythm of movement.
Many important religious buildings have been built around the monumental Basilica throughout the centuries, as among them the Bishop’s Palace. The Bishop’s Palace of Pécs is a monumental building on the western side of the Cathedral, most of which was built during the 12th century. The Bishop’s Palace was last renovated in the 19th century on the order of Bishop János Scitovszky. Visible shapes of medieval origin vanished as the result of latter reconstructions, and it is only commemorated by the floor-plan, the material of the walls, the gateway reinforced by a protective tower and fragments of the Gothic windows of the South-eastern tower. The Neo-Renaissance style of the eastern frontispiece was formed between 1838 and 1852. On the balcony of the Eastern frontispiece we can see a character persistently standing about and never leaving. It is the statue of Ferenc Liszt, erected to commemorate the composer’s concert in Pécs. This 1983 work of art is the work of Kossuth-award winner sculptor Imre Varga.
Standing in front of the Cathedral and to the right we can see the Captiular Archives and Parish, which are Classicist, late-Baroque buildings with a history of over 500 years. The Roman period chapel perpendicular to the South-east tower of the Cathedral was extended in the 14th-15th centuries. The Captiular headquarters was established here, and was later rebuilt in Renaissance style by Bishop György Szatmári. This house survived the Turkish occupation, but maps and drawings from the 17th-18th centuries show its ruined state. The buildings, except for the Chapel, were doomed for demolition in 1767 and it was decided that a new headquarters would be built at its place. Besides a few canonical apartments, the building also includes the Captiular Archives, the valuable archives of the Cathedral, an archive of drawings and many articles of the Captiular legacy. The beautiful, forged iron gates of the crypt under the archives made in 1747 are quite remarkable and were moved from the vestry of the Cathedral.
(Cathedral of Pécs, Bishop’s Palace, Two obelisks, 12 Apostles) The Bishopric of Pécs was established by King Saint Stephen in 1009.
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