From there we ambled into Erzsebet Square. This was a busy green space full of locals and tourists. In one corner a skateboard competition was going on. Other folks were crowded around the ferris wheel. Not quite the London Eye or even Navy Pier, but still a bit of carnival in the middle of a busy city.
Our stroll got a bit more serious as we entered the courtyard in front of St. Stephens Basilica--the 2nd largest Catholic church in Hungary. Plagued by a faulty start in 1851 that resulted in the total collapse of the original dome, the Neo-Rennaissance building now before us was finally completed in 1906.
As beautiful as the main chancel is, the key sight for pilgrims is in a small chapel around to the side. Here you can see a handsome gold and silver reliquary containing the brown mummified hand of Saint Stephen, Hungary's first Catholic monarch.
Just a tad on the gross side but interesting all the same. The reliquary is carried in a procession outside the church honoring the Saint once each year.
After the encounter with St. Stephen's hand we entered Andrassy Avenue proper and made our way toward another Neo Rennaissance masterpiece-- the Budapest Opera House (1884), which incidentally was designed by Miklos Ybl, the same man who was brought in to finish St. Stephen's Basilica after the dome of the first iteration collapsed.
The highlight of our tour was a gathering of all the groups in one of the front lounges to hear an opera singer belt out an aria or two. He started with a sure crowd pleaser, the toreador song from Bizet's Carmen.
What a surprise! Baroque again with ceiling frescoes done by the same artist who decorated the Opera House.
The beauty extended to the food and our party eagerly dug into the fancy pastries after a long afternoon of walking.