Matthias Church: History and Art in Budapest

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 perfect 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 church in Budapest, Hungary.

See Matthias Church lit up at night and all its glory overlooking Budapest

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.

Matthias Church and a statue from behind

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 to Matthias Church

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 a little off track like us and make your stop at Széll Kálmán tér. This allows a 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!

Walk through Budapest's Vienna Gate before heading to Matthias Church

Enjoy the architecture of the National Archives of Hungary building in Budapest on your way to Matthias Church

Matthias Church

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 trek up the bell tower since we had other places to explore that day, but we’ve heard it’s worth it.

There’s another amazing view of Budapest that’s free; it just costs a little exercise. Check out our post on Gellért Hill for an awesome panoramic view of Budapest!

The interior of Matthias church is enormous, with lots of detail to observe and enjoy.

See the altar in Matthias Church in Budapest

Matthias Church's crucifixion statue

Ceiling of Matthias Church

We really took our time wandering around, listening to the organist softly play from above.

Matthias Church: an organist playing softly

There’s also a small museum (included with entry) with many old artifacts like a crown and original Gregorian sheet music.

Crown on display in Matthias Church in Budapest

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 knew nothing about her before Matthias Church but she has an amazing story so be sure to check that out!

Matthias Church has a statue of Queen Elizabeth

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.

Statue outside of Matthias Church in Budapest

Matthias Church offers great views of the Pest side of Budapest

Above, you can see parliament on the left and St. Stephen’s Basilica on the right. Both buildings are exactly 96 meters tall.

Matthias Church offers great views of the parliament building in Pest at night

There are a couple of cafes near the church and while they look enchanting, they are quite expensive compared with the rest of Budapest so enter at your own risk.

Summary of Matthias Church in Budapest

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, Hungary. 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!

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Matthias Church in Budapest provides beautiful architecture and an intricate interior that makes it a must-see. We share our experience plus some good info about going!

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Where Food Takes Us

Where Food Takes Us

We’re Darah and Garrett. Our life has been an adventure ever since we eloped in a pink Cadillac in Las Vegas. Now we’re running around the world, working online, and eating everything we can.

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sunsetsandrollercoasters

We visited Budapest last summer and absolutely loved Mathias Church. Unfortunately we arrived late in the day and had to leave quickly to make it to the last tour up the tower. I would have loved to have stayed longer as we missed so much. We didn’t see any of the special exhibits.

Your photos are incredible! Thanks for such a great primer. I’ve never been to Hungary and you’ve given me some great directions and I’d gladly pay $5 for that tour. It’s amazing how these European churches go through so many transitions.

Matthias Church is definitely a great one to visit. It blew our minds how many times it had to be rebuilt over the centuries!

Matthais Church is very cool … but frankly our favorite part of the visit was wandering around the Fisherman’s Bastion and the rest of the Buda’s Castle District. And just down the hill, there was a fantastic restaurant … Hunyadi Restaurant and Café with lovely outdoor seating and very reasonable prices.

Your photos of Budapest in the snow are so pretty! It’s one of the few cities that I would love to return to!

It was super cold but it was a beautiful experience. We felt like we were in a winter wonderland!

What a gorgeous church and so much history too! The entrance fee really isn’t that much, as people will spend that amount on a latte. I haven’t been to Budapest yet, and would love to go. I’d totally take the longer route like you did, to see more sights along the way. You’ve piqued my interest about Elisabeth!

We love to take the long route. You see so much more that way. We hope you get visit Budapest.

I need to head to Budapest and this church looks amazing. I love the ceiling decorations and how much attention to detail was put into this amazing building. Such a great post, you really captured the feel of the place.

It’s an incredible church! We think it’s worth paying the (cheap) entrance fee to get the full experience.

It looks incredible. I really hope to get back to Budapest soon. The last long weekend we could take, one of our flights got cancelled and the replacement one was impossible to consider. That’s the weekend I got proposed to. It should have been in Budapest, but we ended up in Timisoara.

I bet your engagement was still magical! Congrats! I hear Romania is beautiful.

I really enjoyed this and your photos are gorgeous! We almost went to Budapest when we were in Vienna last month, but decided it needed to be a location all with its own time and now I see why. Mattias is beautiful! I love the Neo-Gothic architecture and really Mattias and a lot of Budapest reminds me a lot of Vienna. Have you been there? If so, would you agree?

Thank you! We really loved Matthias church inside and out. We were in Vienna to catch our train to Budapest so we can’t really compare the two cities but we’ll be back in Vienna in early June! They might look similar because the Buda side (where Matthias church is) was inhabited by the Habsburgs when it was the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

We spent a week in Budapest several years ago, and stayed in the Buda side. We did see Matthias Church, but only from the outside. We didn’t go inside because – like you said – there was an entrance fee. And also because the weather was great when we were in Budapest, so we prefered to explore around outside. But now seeing your photos, we’ll probably visit the inside of the church next time! Thanks a lot for sharing!

Susanne Jungbluth

We were in Budapest in the winter and I loved it. The city is really great. Did you also go to the inner city parish church? Here is an underground church (https://fromplacetoplace.travel/hungary/budapest/inner-city-parish-church-budapest/), which we really liked. Yes, and a visit to a thermal bath is one of them and warms up in the winter wonderful.
Susanne