Matthias Church is one of those buildings in Budapest that catches your glance and leaves you staring for a long time. Its magnificent architecture, rich history, and its placement atop Buda Castle Hill makes it all the more unique. In this post we’ll talk a little about its history, how to get there, and how to make the most of this marvelous site in Budapest, Hungary.
Brief Background of Matthias Church
The first church, named Church of Mary, was built on this location around 1015. That’s old! Unfortunately, that church was destroyed by the Mongols during their invasion in 1241. It was, however, rebuilt. In fact, the building was expanded upon in Gothic style architecture by the order of King Matthias Corvinus in the 15th century, who the present day church is named after.
But the story doesn’t stop there! When the Ottoman Empire took control of the area in 1521, it was turned into a mosque. After the Ottomans were pushed out in 1686, much of the church was in ruins. Artifacts were missing and paintings were destroyed. It was then recreated in a Baroque style, which lasted until the early 19th century when it was finally restored in the Neo-Gothic style that we see today.
That was a lot of history packed into a couple paragraphs, but we think it’s very important to understand that this church, destroyed and rebuilt and redesigned over hundreds of years, still stands today for us to enjoy. Very cool!
How to Get There
Matthias Church is on the Buda side of the Danube River. You’ll want the red line on the subway, M2. You have two options here. If you’re just looking for the church, then Déli Pályaudvar is your stop. You’ll find Matthias Church and parts of Buda Castle just a few blocks to your east.
Or you can journey like us and make your stop at Széll Kálmán tér. This allowed us a little bit of exploring before heading to the church. We made our way through the Vienna Gate and past the National Archives of Hungary. These are great spots for pictures, especially when there’s snow everywhere!
Entry Fee: 1600 HUF/adult (around $5.70 USD)
This fee is pricey if we’re comparing it to other churches like St. Stephen’s Basilica, but you get to see much more in Matthias so don’t hesitate.
There is a tour that takes you to the top of the bell tower but that costs extra. We didn’t pay for the bell tower since we had other places to explore that day, but we’ve heard it’s awesome. There’s another amazing view of Budapest that’s free; it just costs a little exercise. Check out our post on Gellért Hill!
The inside of Matthias church is enormous, with lots of details to observe and enjoy.
We really took our time wandering around, listening to the organist softly play from above.
There’s also a small museum with many old artifacts like a crown and Gregorian music.
We highly recommend taking the time to walk through this museum and read all you can. There is a great exhibit on Elisabeth, the Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary. We never knew anything about her but she has an amazing story so be sure to check that out!
As for the inside of Matthias Church, the pictures do most of the talking. But don’t forget to explore the area around the church, which is part of Buda Castle. Just steps beyond Matthias church you can find great views of the Pest side of the Danube River, including the famous parliament building.
Above, you can see parliament on the left and St. Stephen’s Basilica on the right. Both buildings are exactly 96 meters tall.
There are a couple of cafes and within the grounds and while they look enchanting, they are quite expensive compared with the rest of Budapest so we did not partake.
Matthias Church is just one of many attractions in Buda Castle, but it’s one of our favorites. We hope you get to enjoy its beauty and appreciate its history when you find yourself in Budapest. If you still haven’t had your fill of churches, be sure to check out our post on St. Stephen’s Basilica, one of the other must-see churches in Budapest.
Thanks for stopping by and happy travels!