PACKH, János
(b. 1796, Eisenstadt, d. 1839, Esztergom)

Exterior view

1824-56
Photo
Basilica, Esztergom

The Primatial Church at Esztergom represents the pinnacle of Neoclassical cathedrals in Hungary. It had been one of the most important churches in the country ever since its archbishops were granted the right to crown Hungary's kings in 1111. Devastated during the sieges of the Turks, this diocese was not occupied again until 1820, when Franz I transferred the primate's seat from Nagyszombat to Esztergom. Plans to build a new church to replace the one heavily damaged during the Turkish wars were pursued from the 1760s, when Canevale was charged with surveying the town's castle hill. The planning process did not begin to take on contours until 1820, however.

Restoring the primate's seat to the town required extensive new building work. The director of the Court Construction Office in Vienna, Ludwig von Remy and the Eisenstadt architect Paul von Kühnel developed a complex of buildings which borrowed from the examples of the Escorial and the Vatican in Rome. János Packh reduced the scale of Kühnel's design after 1824 and József Hild completed the cathedral by 1845, after yet another revision of the plans.

Situated high above the Danube, the façade is dominated by the monumental columns of the drum. The dome reaches to 70m in height and is supported by 24 columns. The frontispiece, with its 57-meter-high projecting corner towers and lavish sculptural ornamentation, rests on 10 Corinthian columns. St. Peter's in Rome provided the model for this church, as it had for the Vác cathedral.

The photo shows the main façade.