Witness of seven centuries: the Mary Magdalene Tower

06 August 2021
The Mary Magdalena Tower stretches towards the sky at Kapisztrán Square in the Buda Castle. A wide range of fascinating and inspiring programs are offered in this historic building all along the week of the IEC.

The construction and fortification of the Buda Castle Hill started after the devastating Mongol invasion of Hungary in the 13th century. The royally founded Church of Our Lady (known as Matthias Church as well) was mostly used by the area’s German speaking population at the time, thus Hungarian civilians, still a minority, called for their own chapel.

Tower and church

The St. Mary Magdalene Chapel was built right next to the then marketplace by the Hungarian civilians living in the Buda Castle District at the time, thus it was more than natural that the church's pastoral ministry be covered to serve the Hungarian believers. In those days the Tower was not lonely at all, but it was part of a Gothic style church.

Buda egyetlen eredeti középkori tornya

Shared prayer site of the Catholics and Protestants

At the time of the country’s Ottoman occupation, the church was used by both Catholics and Protestants. However, after 1591, throughout the Ottoman occupancy it was converted into a Mosque, and used as a Muslim place of worship. During the 1686 Buda Castle siege to re-capture it from the Ottoman Empire, the church building was severely damaged. Afterwards it was reconstructed in Baroques style by the Franciscan order, giving home to their friary as well. Upon the decree of Emperor Joseph II., the Franciscan order was dissolved and both the church and the monastery were forcibly closed down in 1787.

The downfall

At the beginning of the 19th century the church complex was used by the army as a garrison church, then from 1920 it hosted the Catholic Camp Bishopric until 1945, when it was severely damaged again during the siege of Budapest. However, its real destruction were the subsequent restoration works that resulted in saving the Tower only.

Carillon and panoramic view

The three-storey, square shaped lower level of the Tower gives the base for the octagonal two-story inside building. The Lookout tower offers an extraordinary panorama over the city of Budapest. Twenty four bells sit on the Mary Magdalene Tower’s first floor, and a computer-controlled electronic system makes them ring, entertaining the visitors with a carillon.

Nagy idők tanúja

Ars Sacra during the week of the IEC

The Magdalene Tower and its surroundings give home to many events during the week of the International Eucharistic Congress. Walking tours guide the visitors around the Castle District, making them familiar with the history of our built heritage, including the history of the former church and its tower.

Simultaneously with the World Event, the 15th Ars Sacra Festival is going to be organised. The spotlight site of this award-winning series of events will be the open-air stage in front of the St. Stephen’s Basilica, where visitors are offered with a great variety of music programs and talk shows, arranged on the occasion of the International Eucharistic Congress.

Please click for the festival programs!

Photo: wikipedia