In the old town of Buda, the Church of the Assumption of the Buda Castle, more commonly known as the “Matthias Church”, is one of the most emblematic monuments in Budapest!
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Brief history of the Matthias Church
In almost 800 years of history, the Matthias Church saw the city of Budapest change hands quite a few times: over the centuries, the capital was alternately under Hungarian, Ottoman and Austrian domination. The Church witnessed the rise and fall of a myriad of monarchs and underwent countless modifications.
Here is a timeline of church’s long history:
- 11 th century: two centuries before the construction of the church, under the reign of Stephen I, a Catholic sanctuary was founded right where the Matthias Church would later be built.
- 1255 : start of construction of the Matthias Church during the reign of King Béla IV.
- 1279 : the church was consecrated more than 20 years after the start of the construction works.
- End of 14 th century – early 15th th century : the church was enlarged during the reign of King Louis the Great, and again during the reign of King Sigismund of Luxembourg after the bell tower had collapsed.
- End of 15th th century : mythical Hungarian king Matthias Corvin ( Mátyás ) enlarged and embellished the church. The modification included the construction of a new bell tower, named Matthias Tower in honor of the sovereign. King Matthias celebrated both his marriages in the Church of the Assumption of the Buda Castle.
- Beginning of the 16th th century –end of 17th th century : after a first attack on Budapest in 1526, the Ottoman Empire took control of the capital in 1541. The Matthias Church was then turned into a mosque and emptied of all liturgical objects associated with Catholicism; a statue of the Virgin was walled up as it couldn’t be moved.
- 1686 : the troops of Eugene of Savoy, commander-in-chief of the armies of the Holy Roman Empire, defeated the Ottoman occupiers and took control of Budapest. Legend has it that on the day of the victory of the Christian army, the wall concealing the statue of the Virgin in the Matthias Church collapsed: this sign, known as the “Miracle of Buda”, was said to have helped discourage the Ottoman soldiers.
- End of 17th th century – early 18 th century : reconstruction of the church, which suffered considerable damage during the war, was entrusted to a community of Jesuits. The Jesuits also built a college and a seminary right next to the building.
- 1867 : King Franz Joseph I and his wife, mythical Princess Sissi (Elisabeth of Wittelsbach), were crowned in the Matthias Church.
- 1873-1896 : King Franz Joseph I ordered a complete renovation of the church and entrusted the renovation works to architect Frigyes Schulek. He harmonized the style of the building and added a resolutely neo-Gothic touch.
- Second World War : the church suffered serious damage.
- 1950 – 1970 : the communist authorities, who had closed down the church at the end of the war, finally decided to renovate the building.
🤔 One church, three names 🤔
Careful not to get confused! The church has not one… not two… but three names!
– the Church of the Assumption of the Buda Castle (in Hungarian,Nagyboldogasszony-templom)
– the Coronation Church of Buda (Koronázó Főtemplom )
– the Matthias Church ( Mátyás-templom )
Visiting the Matthias Church
The exterior of the church
Despite the countless changes (destruction, renovations, expansions, etc.) that the Matthias Church underwent over the centuries, it remains overall surprisingly harmonious, all thanks to the major restructuration carried out by Frigyes Schulek at the 19 th century.
The facade of the church, flanked by the Béla and Mátyás towers, is resolutely neo-Gothic in style (gargoyles, large windows and spire). The rose window and the main portal, crowned with a bas-relief designed in the 19th centuryth century by Lajos Lantai, are definitely worth a peek.
The building is decorated with a glazed-tile roof similar to Burgundian roofs (just like in the Hospices de Beaune).
Inside the Matthias Church
Although very harmonious, the interior of the church reveals the building’s long history. The lower part of the building is characteristic of the Romanesque style, while the upper part is distinctly Gothic.
During your visit, take a look at:
- the neo-romanesque crypt, dating from 19 th century;
- the frescoes painted by Károly Lotz in the chapel of Saint-Ladislas;
- the tombs of Béla III of Hungary and Agnes of Antioch in the Chapel of the Trinity;
- the stained glass designed by Bertalan Székely, Frigyes Schulek and Károly Lotz;
- the gothic portal from the 14 th century;
- the richly carved pulpit ;
- the high altar designed by Frigyes Schulek and inspired by Gothic triptychs.
Concerts at the Matthias Church
Just like in St. Stephen’s Basilica , classical music concerts are organized the the Matthias Church.
The acoustics are truly spectacular.
👉 Find out more : classical music concert in the Matthias Church
👍 The Captain’s tips 👍
Captain Ulysses highly recommends this Budapest free tour.
You’re free to choose how much you want to tip the tour guide at the end of the tour!
Getting to the Church of the Assumption of the Buda Castle (Matthias Church)
In the heart of the old town of Buda, the Church of the Assumption of the Buda Castle is located a stone’s throw from the Fisherman’s Bastion and the Buda Castle.
The nearest public transports are:
- bus: Szentháromság tér station (lines 16, 16A and 116)
Hop-on hop-off sightseeing buses also stop near the Matthias Church. They’re super handy to get around the city while enjoying the view!
The Matthias Church is open to visits:
- on weekdays (Monday – Friday) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- on Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
- on Sunday, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Entrance tickets for the Matthias Church are available for:
|Full fare||1800 forints|
|Reduced fare |
Children over 6 + students + visitors over 60
|Free tickets |
Children under 6
The Captain’s favourites in Budapest
If you’re looking for an accommodation in Budapest, Captain Ulysses highly recommends Booking.com . You’ll find a wide choice of hotels, hostels and apartments in the Hungarian capital.
If your budget is tight, the Captain particularly recommends theAvenue Hostel .
If you’re looking for a midscale option, the Captain recommends three aparthotels in particular: Hedonist Lodge , Dolce Vita Rumbach and Tempo Life Apartman .
And if you want to treat yourself to a really nice hotel, why not splurge on a stay at Hotel Moments Budapest ?
As for booking visits and tourist activities, Captain Ulysses recommends three websites: GetYourGuide , Tiqets and Civitatis . Guided tours, cruises, skip-the-line tickets, tourist activities… there’s plenty to choose from!
If you are staying in Budapest for several days, you might want to consider investing in the Budapest Card. It includes free public transport, free entrance to the Lukacs Spa, two guided tours, free entrance to 17 museums, as well as numerous discounts.
Budapest airport is located about twenty kilometers from the city. If you want to take a load off your mind, you can book a private transfer into Budapest’s city centre from the airport. A car will be waiting to take you to your accommodation in the city. Find out more: shared transfer or private transfer.
🚌 TRANSPORTS IN BUDAPEST
Budapest’s public transport system is well-developped and quite easy to navigate: metro, bus, tram and even ferry. If you wish, you can also opt for a hop-on hop-off bus tour which stops at all the top tourist attractions in Budapest (audio guide included). Otherwise, there’s always the good old local ways of getting around the city: in a russian jeep or a Trabant.
Captain Ulysses highly recommends booking your flights on Skyscanner. The website allows you to compare countless flights to find the best deal. If your dates are flexible, you can also compare prices over several months to find the cheapest flights possible.
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