Matthias Church (officially called the Church of Our Lady, but all locals call it “Matyas Templom”) is a 13th century Gothic church with an outstanding oriental atmosphere on top of the Castle Hill, Budapest. If you are a first time visitor in Budapest, you will see that this church is off the beaten path of church architecture. We think Matthias Church is a must see attraction in Budapest.
Matthias Church Budapest
Matthias Church or in Hungarian Matyas templom is one of the top attractions in Budapest Hungary, and one of the top romantic places to see in Budapest.
Many assume that the church was named after St Matthias, but it is quite far from the truth. Matthias is the first name of the Hungarian king Matthias Corvinus, the son of John Hunyadi. Not a saint, but a fair king, whose remembrance lives on in popular Hungarian cartoon films: Matthias the Fair.
The interior of Matthias Church is absolutely unique due to the elaborately detailed gilt walls. Despite being a Gothic Catholic church, the atmosphere is more mesmerizingly oriental and mystically exotic rather than the customary (Baroque or Renaissance) church interiors you would see in Europe. There are beautiful lights lingering in the church hall of Matthias Church.
Opening Hours of Matthias Church:
The church is open every day all year round.
Mon-Fri 9am – 5pm, Sat 9am – 1pm, Sun 1-5pm.
Occasionally the church closes earlier, e.g. if there is a wedding ceremony
Address: Szentháromsag Square Budapest, District I. See the location of Matthias Church on our Budapest Tourist Map
Entrance Fees at Matthias Church:
- Adults: HUF 1,000
- Students & Senior Citizens (EU): HUF 700
- Children under 6: Free
- Families of 4+ (parents and children only): HUF 2,500
- Audio Guide: HUF 500
The entrance fee is HUF 1,000 for adults and the discounted tickets for students are HUF 700. Children under 6 are free to enter the church. You can use your ticket to visit the church itself as well as the museum within Matthias Church.
The great news is that you can also use your ticket to take part in the guided tours starting at given hours.If you missed the group guide, you can still rent an audio guide. Audio guide devices at Matthias Church cost HUF 500. The guides are available in multiple language, i.e. English, German, Italian, Spanish, French, Russian, Polish. Please note: those who do not wish to look at the church but would like to pray or enjoy a moment of silence, may enter the sacred chapel all day free of charge.
Some background on Matthias Church
Matthias Church was built in the 13th century, and since then it has been extended and rebuilt so many times: each era, style, ruler and Castle siege has left its mark on the building. It was even a mosque in 1541 during the Turkish occupation. What you see today was mostly formed in the 1900s by Frigyes Schulek, who has redesigned the square, had Matthias Church got back its Gothic details, constructed the Fisherman’s Bastion with the Statue of St Stephen facing the church.
The name of the church is Matthias Church (Matyas Templom) as locals and tourists know it, although many assume that it is called St Matthias Church, the name is plainly Matthias Church (Matyas templom), as Matthias was a Hungarian king, not a saint. The official name is the Church of Our Lady (Nagyboldogasszony templom).
Who is Matthias in Matthias Church?
No, not a saint as you would logically associate it with a church. Matthias was a Hungarian king, King Matthias Corvinus the Just in the 15th century. He is considered to be the most popular and fairest king ever amongst Hungarians. He made the Buda Castle the centre of the Hungarian kingdom. As for the Matthias Church, he expanded the building in Renaissance style, but he may have also made the church the best wedding place in Hungary. After all it was his favourite wedding venue too. Admittedly, not
6 wives like King Henry VIII, only 2, but both weddings took place in this beautiful church.
King Matthias was the son of legendary John Hunyadi, the ingenious military opponent of the Ottoman Empire (whose never-ending flood of Turkish soldiers threatened the Christendom of the whole of Europe). Through his military successes John Hunyadi became the Governor of the Hungarian Kingdom and the Voivode of Transylvania. But King Matthias’s father can also be credited for the church bells that ring at noon every day.
Now King Matthias was not less legendary than his father.
Quick and quirky facts about King Matthias Corvinus:
- Matthias became the Hungarian king at the age of 15 with no dynastic ancestry and relationship (later on also Bohemian king and the duke of Austria) – unprecedented in the history of Hungary before. But his father, John Hunyadi was a remarkable statesmen and strategist.
- King Matthias spoke several languages, Hungarian, Latin, Italian, Czech, etc. “Besides the learned languages, he was acquainted with most of the living tongues of Europe.” (Wikipedia)
- King Matthias was knighted at the Siege of Belgrade where his father, John Hunyadi died of plague in 1456
- The first wife of King Matthias was forced on him by the Bohemian king – the king kept Matthias hostage and released him under the condition of marrying his daughter (and he was already a widower at the age of 12 before his first marriage at the age of 20)
- King Matthias was a great promoter of Italian Renaissance all over the kingdom of Hungary and Bohemia
His first wedding was with a Bohemian (Czech) princess, Katalin Podjebrad (Kateřina z Poděbrad) in 1463. The princess was 15 years old, King Matthias was 20. After the wedding she soon got pregnant, but unfortunately, she died in child bed fever in 1464, and so did the baby boy.
He didn’t hurry to get married again. 12 years after his first wedding he married the daughter of Ferrante I, the king of Naples. His second wedding to Beatrice of Naples in 1476 was childless and he decided to leave the throne Janos Corvin, his illegitimate son. But Beatrice thought that it was she who should be the rightful successor. In the end, neither of them became the Hungarian ruler in 1490, when King Matthias died. Instead it was the Bohemian (Czech) king, Vladislas II (originally Polish and the son of Elisabeth of Austria, Hungarian princess) who successfully advance his claims to the Hungarian throne supported by Beatrice of Naples.
And a nice shot revealing more of the painted majolica Zsolnay roof tiles of Matthias Church from the back (from the Fisherman’s Bastion):
In addition to the fantastic interior, another aspect that makes Matthias Church stand out from the mainstream church features is its colourful majolica roof. Here’s an image zooming in on the details of the painted tiles. Obviously, this is not a medieval ornament on the roof. The handmade tiles were added to the church at the end of the 19th century, when Frigyes Schulek renovated (and re-designed) the Matthias Church and its immediate surroundings, including the Disney-like Fisherman’s Bastion lookout terrace and the equestrian statue of King St Stephen’s.
The Matthias Church has recently been renovated, and is often scaffolded (just like the Hungarian Parliament), but it’s still well worth visiting.
Last updated: May, 2013