A World War II explosive device has been found in the dome of Esztergom Basilica, which has been under renovation since 2020.
During the reconstruction work, an explosive device was supposedly found drilled into the sidewall of the dome. The projectile was successfully removed, and was found to be a 76 mm Soviet fragmentation grenade of World War II origin.
The fuse of the explosive device broke off at the moment of impact and the device was deformed. The grenade body contained explosive material and was in transportable condition, so it was taken to the central collection point of the Hungarian Defence Forces for later destruction.
Traces of the global bombing are long gone from the cathedral, but this case shows that dormant explosive devices can be found in the most unexpected places, more than 75 years after the end of the Second World War,”
the Hungarian Defence Forces 1st Home Guard Bombardier and Naval Regiment wrote in a Facebook post.
In 1945, “more than 90 different types and makes of explosive devices may have been dropped on the Esztergom Basilica, because the dome provided an excellent observation post for the soldiers fighting,” the Facebook post by Lieutenant Milán Gajdos, Communications Officer, explains. Therefore, it is no surprise that Tamás Németh, the architect in charge of the cathedral’s renovation, believes that there may still be explosive devices in the basilica’s dome and that the renovation will be carried out with increased caution. Although he said that unexploded shells much larger than the current one are unlikely to remain in the dome, smaller shells similar to the current one could easily be found during the renovation, which will last until the end of 2023.
Németh has therefore warned the workers in the dome to be extra careful and to always have a detector with them to check the wall if they see any deformation. These projectiles are usually visible at close range, and the grenade that has now been found may have gone unnoticed for so long because no one had climbed to a height where it could be seen before the renovation of the basilica began in 2020.
The architect says it’s difficult to estimate the structural damage that would have been caused by the grenade, which once hit between two windows. He noted, however, that any small explosive device could throw a stable structural system out of balance.
Photos of the bomb and its removal can be seen below:
A year ago, a time capsule, which was placed there in August 1845, was also found and removed from the golden cross in the dome of the cathedral.
Featured photo by György Varga/MTI