Conventions

Reformed Great Church of Debrecen – place of ecclesiastical and historical heritage

The Reformed Great Church
Debrecen
Debrecen and surroundings

Discover the Reformed Great Church of Debrecen, the second largest Hungarian city, also called the Calvinist Rome. The iconic building is also an important site from an ecclesiastical, historical and cultural perspective.

The Hungarian Declaration of Independence of 1849, announcing the break with the Habsburg monarchy, was delivered here, and it has been a venue for the National Assembly on several occasions.

The church history

Its predecessor, a single-nave church, is presumed to have been built at the end of the 13th or the beginning of the 14th century by the landowners of the town. Later it was extended into a three-nave Gothic church. The trials of the centuries left their mark on the church, which eventually burnt down in 1802, in the Great Fire of Debrecen. This resulted in a new church being built for the town’s Reformed Christians. The Great Church was built in Neo-Classicist style and can house up to two thousand people. In 1991, it was visited by Pope John Paul II, who placed a wreath on the monument of the galley slaves in the Memorial Garden. Today, in addition to its role in religious life, it regularly serves as a venue for sung services, organ recitals and classical concerts.

Reformed Great Church of Debrecen

Puritanism and grandeur

The building was renovated at the beginning of the 2010s, when a panoramic bridge was built between the two towers, offering a spectacular view of the town and the main square. You can access the building through the entrance under the left tower. Your visit to the church will be memorable for two reasons: the huge interior and the puritanical appearance of the church with its unadorned, whitewashed walls that immediately catch the eye. The smooth wall surfaces accentuate the richly decorated, gold plated, empire-style pulpit and the inlaid communion table in front of it.

The adorned pulpit in contrast the puritanical pure walls

The inner and upper attractions

The church is home to the Lajos Kossuth Memorial Exhibition and the Congregation History Exhibition, where the original copy of the first printed Bible in Hungarian is on display. There is also a lift to take you to the top of the tower, where you arrive in the mysterious dark attic of the Great Church.

 

The first printed Bible in Hungarian

Here, you can walk on wooden planks to study the upper structure of the domes and the old clock mechanism. The most interesting item in the semi-dark exhibition space is the miniature model representing the original round church designed by Mihály Péchy. Although the design won the tender, it was never built because of a lack of funds. The present design was created at a later time. Once you get to the other tower, you can climb the stairs leading to the great bell, the predecessor of which was gifted to the church in 1640 by a famous Hungarian lord, but which had to be re-cast after the great fire of 1802.

 

Several steps up, you will find a small lookout on the top floor of the west tower. Looking through the windows to the four cardinal points, you will see the loosely arranged panorama of the ‘Calvinist Rome’.

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