Places of Worship
Hungary is rich in historic places of worship representing many faiths and traditions. The spire, tower, dome or minaret is usually the most distinctive feature in any village or urban neighbourhood, and often is the most significant historic building. Fortunately, most are still used for worship, and some have found new sympathetic uses. But investment in their care is also a significant responsibility, so congregations and communities can find it difficult to raise funds and maintain the buildings and their beautiful decorations and furnishings. For the visitor, it is not easy to find interesting places of worship or learn of their history. Also for the researcher, information on historic places of worship in Hungary is not available as a co-ordinated source of reference.
MRA is a founder member of Future for Religious Heritage, an NGO registered in Belgium that aims to promote and support historic places of worship of all faiths across Europe. At its second conference, held in Venice in 2012, MRA presented a profile of Hungary, from the World Heritage Site of Pannonhalma to the small ancient round church of Öskü, Imre Makovecz’s Siófok Lutheran Church, the revived synagogue of Óbuda and converted Pauline-Carmelite Monastery of Sopronbánfalva, and the Özicseli Hadzsi Ibrahim dzsámi, Esztergom.
Hungary’s places of worship are impressive, but an important message is that we do not know enough about the issues determining the future of this important category of the nation’s heritage. MRA is compiling a national overview of historic places of worship to understand those issues and inform how best to help safeguard their future. In addition, MRA is actively trying to rescue endangered historic places of worship that are derelict or under threat in other ways. Of particular interest are the Rumbach Sebestyén utcai synagogue in Budapest, designed by Otto Wagner, and the synagogue in Kőszeg.