The Church Construction Committee that was formed in 1883 in this town on the Danube north of Budapest originally commissioned László Gyalus to design their new Catholic church. A low-lying lot in the middle of the town was purchased for the construction site, which was later filled in and the stream was diverted into a paved channel. A collection was begun to cover the costs, but construction did not begin. From amongst the owners of summer homes in Zebegény the architect Dénes Györgyi and a secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture József Bartóky were elected onto the reconvened commission in 1907. Károly Kós was a frequent guest of both families at Zebegény.

“At the end of spring, I received the official commission to design and supervise the construction of the Zebegény church. I was given two colleagues to work alongside me who had summer homes in Zebegény, Béla Jánszky and Dénes Györgyi. However, my fellow architects did not rock the boat much in their positions (which I considered a positive). The design and architectural activities of Jánszky in connection with the construction of the church are only noticeable insomuch as the exterior form of the tower’s upper section and its steeple were not built according to my original plans, but with his alterations, which were more aesthetic than mine would have been in my opinion.” (Kós Károly: Életrajz. Szerk.: Benkő Samu. Szépirodalmi Könyvkiadó–Kriterion, Budapest–Bukarest, 1991. 84.)

The draft plan was submitted to the committee on the 4th of August 1908. The acceptance of this innovative design did not go smoothly. Dénes Györgyi succeeded in convincing the committee when he stated the church would be erected in the “Romanesque style”. The fact that the lead designer, Károly Kós, was of the Reformed faith also caused difficulties. This problem was overcome by having Béla Jánszky’s name listed first on the design drawings.

The preliminary budget for the church that was submitted on the 10th of September 1908 came to a total of 41,884 krone. The master builder of Budapest, Károly Melczer Jr. (who had also built Crow Castle), signed the contract for the construction work, and the Ecclesiastical Authority approved this on the 29th of September. The ceremonial laying of the church’s cornerstone took place on the 12th of September, and the earthwork had been going on since the 8th of September.

Construction proceeded at a good pace alongside the specifications and direction of the two designing architects. The designs for the furnishings – the main altar, the pulpit, the pews, and the stained glass windows – were made by Károly Kós. The ceremonial benediction of the erected church took place on the 31st of July 1910. The further furnishing and painting of the church then took place at a slower pace. The murals on the interior were painted by the students of the School of Applied Arts in 1914 with the collaboration and according to the designs of the teaching assistant György Leszkovszky and under the direction of the founder of the Gödöllő Artists’ Colony, Aladár Körösfői-Kriesch.

The early versions of the design reformulate the small, Romanesque-style village church made of stone. Restricting the use of the rubble-stone work to the base of the church diverges from the rustic nature of the original draft. The simple handling of the asymmetric main façade of the completed church can be compared to contemporary international examples such as Lars Sonck’s cathedral of Tampere in Finland (1902–1907).

It is possible to get a picture of the church’s interior space based on a description given by Béla Jánszky in April of 1910, “So we retained the perfect Romanesque arrangement with a nave and two aisles and a single apse. The walls of the main nave are held up by strong double columns between wide arches, while the ceiling has a new structural system. Double wooden beams hold up a ceiling of flat plaster slabs that have colorful windows cut into them. There are large, mostly undivided surfaces everywhere, and these provide space for more modern decorative paintings. The rest of the innovations are of a purely formal nature. We wanted to integrate practical innovations only into the building structure. The efforts towards cost efficiency led us to all sorts of new ideas for materials and forms.” (Jánszky Béla: A zebegényi templom. In: Zászlónk VIII./8., 1910. 172–175.)

According to the opinion of Anthony Gall, the 1914 “decorative painting does not take into account the architectonic and spatial innovations of the building’s interior spaces and does not serve the modernity of the space in an architectural sense.” Gall, a researcher devoted to Kós’s life work, approaches the subject from the idea that during the planning process the architects most probably did not discuss the design of the interior space with the painters. Only the plans for the permitting process of the church have survived, in which the significant details of the interior space are only sketched out or are different from what was finally built. According to Gall’s theory, the timber framework, the bright wall surfaces, and the stained-glass windows resulted in a genuinely modern and complete work of art.


Jánszky Béla: A zebegényi templom. In: Zászlónk VIII./8., 1910 (172–175.)

Lyka Károly: A zebegényi templom. In: Új Idők XVI./27–52., 1910 (141–142.)

Körösfői Kriesch Aladár: A zebegényi templom kifestése mint művészet-pedagógiai feladat. In: Magyar Iparművészet XVII./9., 1914 (428–445.)

Farkas Attila: A hazai szecesszió és a Zebegényi templom. In: Vigilia XXXVIII./11., 1973 (725–731.) 

Kapás László: Hogyan épített Kós Károly Zebegényben templomot. In: Dunakanyar XX./2., 1984 (62.) 

Kós Károly: Életrajz. Szerk.: Benkő Samu. Szépirodalmi Könyvkiadó–Kriterion, Budapest–Bukarest, 1991 (84., 96–97.)

 Gall, Anthony: Kós Károly műhelye – tanulmány és adattár. Mundus Magyar Egyetemi Kiadó, Budapest, 2002 (134–141.) [1908-4]

Fabó Beáta–Anthony Gall: „Napkeletről jöttem nagy palotás rakott városba kerültem”. Kós Károly világa 1907–1914. Budapest Főváros Levéltára, 2014 (62–65.)

Gall, Anthony: Kós Károly (Az építészet mesterei. Sorozatszerk.: Sisa József). Holnap Kiadó, Budapest, 2019 (56–65.)


Date of planning
1908.02 - 1908.05.24
Date of construction
1908 - 1909
Petőfi tér 440.
Roman Catholic Church
Kós Károly
Jánszky Béla
Györgyi Dénes
ifj. Melczer Károly
Building type
ecclesiastical building
Building status
executed work