Cathedral of St Peter, Pécs Szent Péter Székesegyház
In the late Roman period there was probably a burial chapel on the site of the present Cathedral; some of the graves on the Early Christian cemetery have been uncovered and can be seen by visitors. In 1064 a fire destroyed the first episcopal church and the adjoining bishop's palace belonging to the diocese which had been founded in 1009. Work on the new diocesan church, a triple-aisled columned basilica with apses on the east side, a raised choir and four corner towers, lasted until well into the 12th C. The building was clearly influenced by North Italian Baroque and the interior furnishings were the work of local sculptors and stone-masons in co-operation with master-builders from Dalmatia - which was then part of the Magyar empire - and Lombardy. In the 14th and 15th C, after having suffered severe damage in Mongol attacks, the church was given Gothic vaulted roofs in place of the original flat ones. During the Turkish occupation of Pécs it was used as a mosque and its crypt as an arms store. After the Turks withdrew there were plans to convert it in the Baroque style, but it was the mid-1700s before this came to fruition. By the early 19th C, the Cathedral was in extremely poor condition, and the measures carried out under the supervision of the Hungarian architect Mihály Pollack who added a second façade in 1805-30 in an attempt to prevent the outer walls from collapsing, did little to improve matters. Between 1882 and 1891 the church was completely rebuilt, to plans of the Viennese architect Friedrich Schmidt, and the result is what we see today. In accordance with contemporary ideas regarding the preservation of historical buildings, his brief was to reconstruct a supposedly Romanesque cathedral by retaining just the base structure and ground plan while in all other respects producing a completely new Neo-Romanesque edifice. The architect collected together all the existing architectural sculptures and stored them in the lapidarium ; they were used as models by György Zala when he designed the reliefs for the north and south passageways into the crypt. The high-altar is also a copy of the Romanesque original. Some well-known 19th C Hungarian artists contributed to the interior furnishings; they included Károly Antal (the statues of the Apostles on the south front), György Kiss (relief in the tympanum above the south door showing Our Lady surrounded by Hungarian saints), Károly Lotz (frescoes in various chapels) and others. A particularly valuable 16th C item of furnishing is the early 16th C round-arched tabernacle of red marble in the Corpus Christi Chapel on the southwest side of the cathedral, which Bishop György Szathmáry of Pécs later had converted to an altar. In that same chapel stands a brass font (1792) in Hungarian Baroque style. The beautiful alabaster epitaph in the Chapel of Our Lady in the northwest of the cathedral was made in Rome in the 17th C.
Early Christian Mausoleum
In 1975-76, at the point where Janus Pannonius utca cuts through Dom tér, archaeologists stumbled upon the foundations of a chapel and east apse, and under it a 4th C Roman burial chamber. The walls of the chapel now stand above ground level, but the burial chamber remains below ground. The entrance to the latter by way of a covered staircase to the left of the chapel first leads into a small exhibition room documenting the archaeological dig. The burial chamber itself has a barrel-vaulted roof and three sarcophagi; its walls are decorated with naturalistic frescos in painted frames portraying Adam and Eve and Daniel in the Lion's Den; they date from the second half of the 4th C and are very similar to those found in the catacombs of Rome.Some more underground burial chambers have been unearthed close to the cathedral, but to date only that on the right-hand side of Dom tér (down the slope on the south side of the archive building) is open to the public. Not yet open to visitors are the Cella Trichora, a catacomb with three conches (semi-circular vaulted roofs) and fragments of a mosaic floor on the west side of the cathedral, Chambers 1 and 2 (also with wall-paintings) to the south of the cathedral, and the most unusual catacomb below the archive building, called Cella Septichora because of its seven apses.In the rear courtyards of the houses at Apáca utca 8 and 14 ; (can also be seen through the glass walls at other times) archaeologists have uncovered parts of an Early Christian necropolis around a chapel, consisting of three burial chambers and 110 Late Roman graves. It is attractively and informatively presented with explanatory boards (Apáca utca 4).
The original building sculptures, which were removed from the church during the renovation work carried out in 1881-92, are stored in the Lapidarium east of the Cathedral and can be seen by visitors. They include the west door, which was made from Roman gravestones, the reliefs from the crypt entrance and the 12th C Altar of the Holy Cross.
On the cathedral forecourt stand two imposing buildings. On the left is the Bishop's Palace, built in 19th C Neo-Renaissance style, and on the right the Baroque cathedral archive (1780-83); when the latter was being built the graves of the first known Early Christian cemetery were unearthed.
Statue of Janus Pannonius
Since 1972 a bronze statue of Janus Pannonius, carved by the Hungarian sculptor Miklós Borsos to mark the 500th anniversary of the great humanist's death, has stood in the former cathedral gardens to the south and west of the Bishop's Palace.
The Barbican (round bastion) at the end of the road to the park was built at the end of the 15th C and served to strengthen further the fortified "castle" precinct at the southwest entrance. At that time the south "castle" wall ran along the route of the present-day Janus Pannonius utca.
Map of Pecs Attractions
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