After centuries of use for the coronation of Hungary’s kings, this beautiful church provides a striking appearance for modern enjoyment and reverent prayer.
Visit the colorful Matthias Church (Mátyás-templom) on Castle Hill on the western Buda side of the Danube River. The current Roman Catholic church was built in the late 1200s but was turned into a mosque in the 1500s when the city was occupied by Turks. Architect Frigyes Schulek restored the Baroque style in the late 1800s. He retained some Gothic elements and added multicolor diamond roof tiles and gargoyles, creating the church’s distinctive appearance in the Budapest skyline.
Another element of Schulek’s project is the Fisherman’s Bastion surrounding the church. This sparkling white terrace has seven towers representing the seven tribes that settled in the Budapest area in 896. Follow the walking path and stairs to the terrace for a beautiful view of the Danube, Pest and the Citadella. Look for a 1906 bronze statue of Stephen I of Hungary who was the first king of Hungary and a staunch Catholic.
Inside the church, listen to the impressive organ. Attend Sunday’s Latin high mass to hear a talented choir performing with the organist. The church orchestra also performs throughout the year.
The church interior has gold-leaf frescoes and stained-glass windows. It includes the Ecclesiastical Art Museum, which contains medieval stone carvings, sacred relics and copies of the Hungarian coronation jewels and royal crown.
There is no charge for entry to the church for the service, but tourists must purchase an entry ticket and abide by rules for respectful behavior; specifically, all entrants should have covered shoulders and men should not wear hats. Cell phones, smoking, eating, drinking and pets are not allowed. The church is normally open all day on weekdays, mornings on Saturdays and afternoons on Sundays. Audio guides in English are available to rent.
Take the Castle Bus to reach the Matthias Church. It is a very short but somewhat hilly walk to the church.