Reconstruction of the Orthodox temple in Hungary
Reconstruction work has begun at the Hungarian Orthodox Cathedral on Petőfi tér. The church's southern spire, which was destroyed in the last days of the Second World War, will be rebuilt in the project.
"Attempts were made in the ‘70s to rebuild the spire," said István Magyar, protoierej (priest) of the Budapest Hungarian Orthodox congregation. At that time there were insufficient funds for the whole spire, allowing only an additional level to be added. A second effort failed in 2000. Then in 2003 Bishop Hilarion became Bishop of Vienna and Austria, and administrator of the Hungarian Orthodox diocese, which had been established shortly before. He immediately pressed for the spire to be reconstructed. According to Magyar, sufficient money has recently become available thanks to foreign benefactors.
During a state visit in 2006 then Russian president Vladimir Putin paid a visit to the Orthodox Cathedral. In talks with the Hungarian government Putin agreed to the return of art treasures looted by the Red Army during the Second World War. In return Hungary offered to finance the drawing up of plans for the spire of the Orthodox Cathedral.
The Hungarian Orthodox Cathedral, which was built between 1791 and 1801 by József Jung, and redesigned by star architect Miklós Ybl between 1872 and 1873, was originally the church of Greek and Macedonian citizens who during the 18th century settled as traders in the areas of Pest near to the Danube. At that time the church had a congregation of around 700. Over time the Greek minority assimilated, and the number of members of the congregation who understood the Greek liturgy gradually declined. After the Second World War an application to allow Hungarian-language services was made. The request was heeded in 1949, and the revived Hungarian Orthodox Cathedral was placed under the control of the Moscow Patriarchy and, therefore, Russian orthodoxy. After many years of directly belonging to the Moscow patriarchy, the Hungarian Orthodox Cathedral became an independent diocese in 2000. According to Magyar around 120-150 believers attend the services at the Cathedral of Our Blessed Lady on Petőfi tér, most of whom are descendants of the Greek traders.