The Matthias Church in Budapest is one of the major historical sites to see in on your Hungarian holiday. Known as the Church of St. Matthias or simply Matthias Church, this place of worship is found in the heart of Budapest’s Castle District. You can slip inside for a quiet respite from the bustling streets and take a guided tour or simply enjoy some quiet meditation.
Church tradition says that the Matthias Catholic Church was first built way back in 1015, but the current building was built in the latter half of the fourteenth century. It was originally in the French Gothic style of architecture, and has been enlarged several times. More recently, it underwent extensive reconstructions in the nineteenth century.
So just who was Matthias? The namesake of the Matthias Church was a famous fifteenth-century Hungarian king named Matthias Cornivius. Also known as Matthias the Just, this king was responsible for having the southern tower of the church built. During his life the church became a place for royal weddings—Matthias marrying here twice. First, he married Catherine of Podiebrad and, after Catherine’s death, he wed Beatrice of Aragon.
The Matthias Catholic Church was not only the site of royal weddings, but also coronations, with the some of the final Hungarian kings receiving their crowns here. The first occurred in 1867, when Franz Joseph was crowed. Music lovers will be interested to known that famous pianist Franz Liszt composed the famed Coronation Mass to celebrate the happy event. The second coronation to take place at the Matthias Church was that of Charles IV, which took place in 1916.
Inside the church, gaze on the artworks by Bertalan Székely and Károly Lotz, who were two Hungarian painters from the nineteenth century. Also inside is the Ecclesiastical Art museum, which contains sacred relics, medieval stone carvings, and even replicas of the Hungarian royal crown.
You can certainly explore the Matthias Church in Budapest on your own, but to learn more about the history and present day uses of the church, taking a guided tour on site is a good idea, and guided tours are handily included in the price of an admission ticket into the church. If you want to tour at your own pace, but don’t want to miss out on all the interesting historical details and trivia that you often learn in a tour, consider renting an audio guide device at the church. These audio guides are offered in many languages, including Hungarian, English, German, Italian, Spanish, French, Russian, and Polish. After your visit, consider visiting one of the nearby Budapest attractions, such as Fishermans Bastion.
Because the Matthias Church in Budapest is a place of worship, it is important to be respectful during your visit. In the Matthias Catholic Church, this means no eating, drinking, or smoking inside the building. You may have guessed, but pets are not allowed inside either. Turn off your cell phone when you go into the church, and men should take off their hats as a sign of respect. Both men and women should wear modest clothing to be respectful; specifically, your shoulders and thighs should not be exposed.