Renovation of the south tower of the basilica
During the extensive renovation work, the task of the Prangl experts was not only to lift off the 11 tonne dome of the south tower in order to remove the large bell for renovation. It also had to be almost completely gutted. This is because completely new ceiling and belfry beams will in future be able to carry five to six bells instead of the previous three.
Lifting away the dome
Esztergom Cathedral, a 100-metre-high neoclassical cathedral, is enthroned at the highest point of the city. With an area of 5,660 square metres, it is considered the largest church in Hungary and one of the largest basilicas in Europe. Now the magnificent church is being carefully renovated; the work is progressing. An important phase is the complete interior and exterior renovation of the south tower. In order to restore the largest of the three bells housed here - without destroying the masonry of the tower - the dome of the tower had to be lifted off and the entire roof structure removed.
250 tonne telescopic crane
A 250 tonne telescopic crane proved to be the most efficient solution in this case. Although a smaller crane with an auxiliary jib would have sufficed for the loads to be lifted, the tight schedule did not allow time for the installation of an auxiliary jib. The larger telescopic crane was able to perform all the lifts with its 72-metre main boom (counterweight 47.5 tonnes). As the first step of the extensive lifting work, the dome, whose highest point including the cross is at a height of 60 metres, was carefully lifted off. It was deposited at the site next to the basilica, where the restoration is also being carried out.
Removing of the bells
The next lifting operations were for the demolition and removal of the ceiling above the bells. The large bell with a diameter of almost 2.2 metres and a weight of about 6 tonnes was next in line. It was lifted out together with a beam weighing about 1.3 tonnes. The second bell, weighing around 300 kilograms and with a diameter of 0.8 metres, followed. During the subsequent lifting out of the belfry, it was important that it was removed in as large units as possible. This meant that it was disassembled into two parts, each weighing 5.5 and 6 tonnes, and these were lifted out individually.
The crane also gradually removed the elements of the oak beam ceiling underneath, which weighed 1.1 tonnes. At the very end, the entire ceiling construction was lifted out. All lifting operations took place without incident. A change of position of the crane on the flat part of a tunnel required the special attention of the Prangl team in between. In order to comply with the statics, a special bridging system was put into use here. This meant that nothing stood in the way of continuing the work. The complete renovation of the cathedral is scheduled for completion by spring 2024.