Monday, March 31, 2014

St. Stephen's Cathedral - Vienna

St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, Austria is the seat of the Archbishop of Vienna. The current church was initiated in the mid-14th century where two prior churches had stood. In 1469 Emperor Frederick II got Pope Paul II to grant Vienna its own diocese with the bishop to be appointed by the emperor. St. Stephen was the cathedral church. In 1722 Pope Innocent XIII elevated Vienna to an Archbishopric. The south tower is the high point in Vienna and is referred to by the Viennese as "Steffi," a diminutive form of "Stephen." It has served as a watchtower and command post for the defense of Vienna for centuries, with an apartment for a watchman who manned the tower at night and rang the bells for fires until 1955. The north tower was supposed to mirror the south tower, but construction was stopped in 1511 and in 1578 a cap, nicknamed the "water tower top" was placed on it. It is only about half the height of the south tower. The main entrance had a mastodon thighbone hung above it for decades and became known as the "Giant's Door." The mastodon bone was discovered in 1443 while digging the foundation of the north tower. The two towers above the main entrance are known as the Roman Towers, because they were constructed using stones  from structures built by the Romans while they occupied the area. The roof  tiles on the south side form a mosaic of the double eagles that symbolize the empire ruled from Vienna by the Habsburg dynasty. On the north side the roof tiles have the coats of arms of the City of Vienna and the Republic of Austria. 
This picture of the north side of St. Stephen, from Wikipedia, gives a better view than I was able to get on our cold and rainy visit. However, when we visited, the work on the north tower was completed. 
This water color from 1847, by Jakob Alt, was also obtained from Wikipedia. 
This picture of the south side of St. Stephen was obtained from here. The double eagles representing the Habsburg Empire on the left-side roof are clearly visible. 
This picture, also from Wikipedia, gives a closer view of the south side and the double eagles. The south tower is just in the picture on the right side. 
My own poor picture of the double eagles. 
The south tower on the left showing a different angle of the south side.
The front entrance with the two Roman Towers above it.
A Wikipedia photo of the front Roman Towers.
Outside sculptures.

This woman has her hands clamped on the jaws of a lion or some similar type creature. 
An outside clock
Constantinople fell to the Turks in 1453. Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II had his sights set next on the Kingdom of Hungary, starting with the border town of Belgrade (now in Serbia). So in 1456 a crusade against the Muslim invasions of Christian Europe was preached at St. Stephen by Hungarian general John Hunyadi, who had fought many times against the Ottoman Turks, and 70 year old St. John Capistrano, a Franciscan friar from the Italian town of Capestrano. John Hunyadi prepared the defenses of the Belgrade fortress and St. John, nicknamed the "Soldier Saint," helped lead the crusade. Ultimately, Hunyadi led a counter attack against the Ottomans, on July 22, 1456, compelling them to lift a siege of Belgrade and retreat. This delayed the expansion of the Ottoman Empire for more than 50 years and stabilized the southern frontier of the Kingdom of Hungary. July 22nd is now a national memorial day in Hungary and St. John is now the namesake for the Franciscan missions of San Juan Capistrano in Southern California and San Juan Capistrano in San Antonio, Texas. An 18th century statue on the outside of the cathedral now commemorates this event. It shows St. Francis, who had participated in the fifth crusade in 1219, trampling on a Turk.
Commemoration of the crusade preached at St. Stephen. St. Francis stands on a defeated Turk.
We saw St. Stephen on a cold and rainy day and our outside pictures were very poor. Plus, it was very difficult to get far enough away for panoramic shots because the nearby buildings are so close. Inside, the cathedral was very dark and bathed in colored cellophane, or some similar substance that was casting a multi-colored light on everything. Plus veils were covering many areas of the inside. So we did not see St. Stephen at its best and my feelings toward it were a literally colored by that. It was way down the scale in terms of my favorite churches we visited on our trip. I think if we caught it at a better time I would have come away with a much more favorable view.  
The inside of St. Stephen bathed in colored light. It was very dark and the colors obfuscated the views of the inner decorations. 
A closer view of the altar.
Christ on the cross above the altar.
Lit candles.
Inner decorations: this photo has had the color amped way down in order not to look like Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. 
A tryptich with color amped way down. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Trofea Grill - Budapest

Trofea Grill in Budapest was one of our "have to"s. This was a place discovered by Andrew during his three month travels through Europe with a friend during his first year of college at UCLA. We have a picture of Andrew on our refrigerator with a small whole octopus hanging out of his mouth. When we visited I was going through a vegan phase and unfortunately missed out on sampling the full garden of delights. Trofea drips hunting, with deer antlers, skulls, mounted fish and wild boar skins virtually everywhere. This is the European version of the Buckhorn Exchange.  Trofea is an all-you-can eat place with offerings of wonderful looking food everywhere. 
Trofea Grill 
A large stag skull hanging outside is truth in advertising.
Antlers everywhere.
We used a street car to get back to our hotel, but walked to get there. A very long walk. 
From the front lobby.
One ugly big fish.
I believe this is a wild boar, although I originally thought it was a bear.
More antlers.
Trays of fish and other meat.
Octopus, herring, trout
Baked chicken thighs and legs.
Trays of sliced meats, stuffed olives, mozzarella and other delights.
Creative concoctions of sliced meats combined with cheese.
Peppers and cured meats.
A nice selection of cheeses. I note the pesto gouda which I've had since, but did not have then. 
Some soft cheeses, like Camembert, and harder cheeses.
A large ball of cheese - not often that we get to see cheese in its initially completed form.
Some nice prepared salads.
More salad
Corn, potatoes, creamed spinach, carrots and other items.
Now to the places where I saw my action: lettuce, onions, peppers, endive, beans. 
Pesto, cucumbers, tomatoes, nuts.
One day I would love to go back to Budapest and give Trophea Grill the kind of respect it deserves, a true sampling. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

St. Stephen's Basilica - Budapest

St. Stephen's Basilica in Budapest, Hungary, is named after Stephen, the first king of Hungary, founder of the Hungarian state, who lived from 975 to 1038. The basilica is 315 feet tall, by law the tallest building in Hungary, only equaled in height by the Hungarian Parliament Building. It is young by European standards, completed in 1905. It is in the form of a Greek cross and has two large bell towers. It was named a minor basilica in 1931 by Pope Pius XI. In 1991, Pope John Paul II visited the basilica for the festival of king St. Stephen.  This as just four years after St. Stephen's Holy Right (see below) was put on display in the Holy Right chapel. 
The dome and spire of St. Stephen's standout in this view from the Buda side of the Danube. St. Stephen's is on the Pest side of the Danube.
St. Stephen's, along with the Hungarian Parliament Building, are the tallest buildings in Hungary.
St. Stephen's from the front courtyard.
The courtyard, from St. Stephens. Note the narrower street at the end of the courtyard.
St. Stephen's from the narrower street at the end of the courtyard.

Above the front entrance.
A statue of Mark (with his lion) on the facade.
I love this statue of Mark: the hat, the flowing robes, the flowing mustache and beard, the decorative hat strap.
Given the book, I'm sure this must be an evangelist, perhaps Matthew with a dove on his shoulder?
Upper portions of the basilica.
A beautiful door with the images of early saints.
Apostle John
Apostle Peter
Apostle Paul
An angelic border decoration.
Beautiful woodwork
Wood door panel.
Inside the dome.
An unusual centerpiece in the dome. Quite often a dove. Is this Moses?
I always enjoy representations of the evangelists, perhaps because I can recognize them. Matthew, represented by a winged man or angel. The evangelists are in the four corners of the supports holding up the dome. 
Mark is represented by the winged lion.
John is symbolized by an eagle.
Luke is symbolized by the winged ox or bull.
Likely another of the evangelists - holding a book. This is higher inside the dome.
Inside the basilica.
The altar. It looks like the overhanging crown might represent the Hungarian Royal Crown and underneath a statue of St. Stephen.
St. Stephen.

The dome above the altar
The underside of an arch with a painting, reliefs and other decorations. 
One of the reliefs, a pudgy angel.
A different arch with figures, in relief, lounging along the sides.

Stained glass showing the keys of heaven. They are metaphorical keys that represent the office of St. Peter and are found on the papal coat of arms. The gold and silver key represent the power of loosing and binding. The triple crowned tiara represents the pope's three functions as supreme pastor, supreme teacher and supreme priest. 
I love the more modern stained glass. 
Elongated pieces of stained glass in the robe with chunkier pieces outside.

King Ladislau or St. Ladislau, King of Hungary. He is the one who tracked down the Holy Right and turned the spot into an abbey.
A fun sculpture of a knight with sword, in chain mail.
King and Saint Stephen:
King Stephen was born in Esztergom. His parents were both baptized, but he was the first member of his family to be a devout Christian. He was a grand prince of the Hungarians and in a series of wars he defeated and unified the Pannonian Basin, which today includes Hungary, northern Serbia, parts of Croatia, Slovenia, Romania  and Bosnia. On December 25, 1000, or perhaps January 1, 1001, Stephen was crowned with a crown sent by Pope Sylvester II and became the first king of Hungary. He helped spread Christianity among his people, establishing a number of bishoprics, monasteries and punishments for ignoring Christian customs. He was canonized in 1083, just 45 years after his death, by Pope Gregory VII. His feast day, August 20, is also a public holiday, which commemorates the founding of the Hungarian state. 
This equestrian statue of King Stephen is outside Matthias Church in Buda, across the Danube and up the hill. 
St. Stephen holding a replica of his church.
A younger representation of St. Stephen in stained glass.
I believe this is a relief of St. Stephen from the facade.
Stained glass with the Royal Crown of Hungary.
The Royal Crown of Hungary, or the Crown of St. Stephen, was taken during WWII to prevent it from falling into the hands of the Soviet Army. In 1977, after the easing of Cold War tensions, President Jimmy Carter returned the crown to Hungary. This replica of the crown was given to Pres. Carter by the President of the Republic of Hungary in 1998 and it is found in the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library in Atlanta. 
Another view of the replica in the Carter Library.
This replica of the Crown of St. Stephen was in Matthias Church on the Buda side of the Danube. There is also a representation of the crown on the steeple of St. Martin's Cathedral in Bratislava
The Holy Right:
When King Stephen died in 1038 he was embalmed and placed in a marble sarcophagus in Fehervar, now known as Szekesfehervar, Czech Republic, about 40 miles southwest of Budapest. His right hand was believed to have miraculous power, so it was detached and taken to the treasury of the basilica. The right hand was stolen by a treasury ward named Merkur and taken to Merkur's estate in Bihar, now known as Saniob in Romania. King Ladislaus later heard about the theft and discovered who had taken the hand. He forgave Merkur and founded an abbey where it was located. The abbey was named Szentjobb, meaning "Holy Right," what King Stephen's right hand has come to be called.  During the 1400s the Holy Right was taken and ultimately ended up in Raguza in Bosnia, now known as Dubrovnik, in 1590, where it was kept by the Dominican monks. In 1771, Empress Maria Theresa arranged to have the Holy Right taken to Vienna, then to Buda. For awhile it was held by the Archdiocese of Esztergom, then in Buda castle. During WWII the Holy Right and coronation jewels were hidden in a cave in Salzburg where they were found by the US army which delivered the Holy Right ultimately back to Hungary and during the era of communist rule, it was hidden in the safe at St. Stephen's Basilica. In 1987, after regime change, the Holy Right chapel was dedicated and the Holy Right was put on display. When we visited, the Holy Right chapel was mobbed and it was difficult to get close to and view the shriveled Holy Right. 

This picture of the Holy Right was taken from here. I didn't have the patience to wade through the masses to get a good picture.  
This painting of St. Stephen is in the Holy Right chapel.
This Chinese style  ceramic decoration seemed totally out of place in the Holy Right chapel. 
Archdiocese of Esztergom-Budapest:
There are almost 3.9 million Roman Catholics in Hungary, about 39% of the population. Hungary has 12 dioceses, including four archdioceses. Budapest is part of the Archdiocese of Esztergom-Budapest which was founded in the tenth century. Budapest is the current capital of Hungary, but Esztergom was a former capital of Hungary when Hungary was much larger, including the eastern half of the Habsburg empire. Surprisingly, up until 1993 the diocese was known as the Archdiocese of Esztergom. St. Stephens is the co-cathedral of the archdiocese, along with Esztergom Basilica in Esztergom. It became a co-cathedral at the same time the name of the archdiocese was changed. The same architect, Jozsef Hild, designed both basilicas.