Expert Guide to Visiting Matthias Church Budapest
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Read More About Buda Castle District
Budapest’s Castle District is one of the city’s most popular destinations for tourists – it’s a must visit on any Budapest itinerary, and a great area to stay in Budapest for a quiet, romantic holiday.
In the heart of the Castle District sits Matthias Church. It’s one of the most important churches in Hungary. It’s served as a religious and cultural touchstone for Budapesters for more than a thousand years.
Matthias Church sits on Szentháromság tér (Holy Trinity Square). It’s adjacent to Fisherman’s Bastion, and is unmistakable with its signature tiled roof.
Matthias Church is a particularly special destination. In this guide, I’ve tried to cover everything you need to know about visiting Matthias Church Budapest.
About Matthias Church and Holy Trinity Square
Matthias Church is one of the most important buildings in Budapest, and also one of the most iconic. Standing tall in the center of the Castle District, the bright red, orange, and green tile roof glistens when the sun hits it. It’s an unmistakable feature in Buda’s skyline.
The church is Neo-Gothic in style. Its spires are so tall, it’s truly a challenge to get the entire structure in a single photograph!
Matthias Church’s interior stands out from standard European churches. It’s a beautiful space, well worth the trip inside.
Add to that, the church shares Holy Trinity Square with other notable points of interest. In particular, don’t miss the Trinity Column. It’s a beautiful pillar that commemorates 1691 plague victims.
History of Matthias Church
First built in the 13th century, Matthias Church is named after King Matthias, aka King Matthias the Just/Fair (depending on the translation).
Matthias is recognized as one of Hungary’s greatest kings, ruling Hungary and Croatia from 1458 to 1490. He was John Hunyadi’s son – you can see a statue of Hunyadi at Fisherman’s Bastion.
Although Matthias Church dates back to the 1200s, historians believe it replaced an earlier church. The earlier structure, the Church of Mary, dates back to 1015 and was founded by Hungary’s first king, St. Stephen. In the 1400s, the current church’s namesake, King Matthias, remodelled the church. He added the bell tower and gave it its current gothic look.
As with many of Hungary’s churches, Matthias Church also served as a mosque during the Ottoman occupation of Hungary. From 1526 until the 1686 siege of Buda, the Turks occupied Buda. After the siege, the church was reconstructed in a Baroque style. The church was Baroque until the 19th century, when it was restored to its present neo-Gothic style.
Today, Matthias Church serves the same role it has for centuries in Budapest. It’s a religious center popular for weddings, masses, and special events. No more coronations, though!
History of Holy Trinity Square
Matthias Church stands to the side of Trinity Square. As with the church, it comes with significant history.
Budapest was founded because of the unification of Buda, Pest, and Obuda. The agreement was struck here, in Trinity Square.
The square is also home to the Trinity Column. Today, the column is a symbol of commemoration. It memorializes those who died in the late-17th- and early-18th-century waves of Black Plague that afflicted much of Europe.
Originally, however, the column was meant as a prophylactic against the plague. From 1700 to 1706, the first column was built here as a way to ward off the plague. The plague made a comeback in 1709, and so the decision was taken to build a larger column.
The statue on the column today dates back to 1706, and the column to 1709.
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The Budapest Card includes free, unlimited public transportation for the duration of the card, and is available as a 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5-day card. In addition to free public transport, the card includes free entry to many museums, a complimentary tour, discounts throughout the city, and more. Click for prices and details.
Book Your Flight to Budapest
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Book Your Budapest Hotel in Advance
We use Booking.com when making hotel reservations in Europe. In our experience, it has the best inventory/selection of hotels and holiday apartments, and we’ve had good experiences with their customer service team when things go wrong (which has been a rarity for us, thank goodness!). TripAdvisor is also trying to get into the hotel booking game, and may be worth checking out.
Skip the Line in Budapest
Budapest is getting busier by the year, meaning you should expect to wait in line at the most popular attractions, especially in high season. If you only have a short vacation, consider getting a Skip-the-Line ticket for the most popular attractions: The Great Synagogue, Széchenyi Thermal Baths, and the Parliament. If you want to visit the interior of the Parliament, you have to pre-book. You can either use an international tour aggregator like Get Your Guide or use the Hungarian website Jegymester.hu.
Book Your Budapest Tour
Why use an aggregator instead of going direct? Personally, we like to compare the different tours available for each attraction, as well as read reviews. Both Get Your Guide and Viator let us see multiple, similar tours, and compare prices and past reviews before making a booking.
Getting from Budapest Airport to the City Center
Budapest’s public transportation system is generally excellent, and this extends to the airport. For a detailed post about getting from Budapest Airport to the City Center via public transit, shared shuttle, or airport taxi, read our guide here.
If you’re arriving late at night, coming in on a long-haul and expect to be exhausted, or would rather have the peace of mind of a private transfer, you can book one here.
Buy Travel Insurance (Just in Case)
We can’t actually recommend a travel insurance provider. Apparently it’s against the law.
However, we can say this: we know several people who racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical expenses during separate, life-or-death situations while traveling. They were both insured by Allianz, they both received life-saving care, and they both made a successful claim.
No one wants to need travel insurance, but you’ll certainly be glad you have it if something goes wrong. And if something does go wrong in Budapest, we personally go to FirstMed for our healthcare. Staff and doctors speak English.
Make Restaurant Reservations in Advance
If you visit Budapest in winter, you’ll probably be okay if you don’t make restaurant reservations, although we’d still recommend you reserve in advance Thursday to Saturday evenings where possible.
In summer, things fill up pretty quickly, although capacity at many restaurants increases when the city’s terraces open, usually sometime in May. It’s worth noting Budapest’s restaurants are all non-smoking inside, but get quite smoky on the terraces.
Why You Should Visit Matthias Church: Attractions and Points of Interest
Matthias Church is one of Hungary’s cultural cornerstones. Visitors will be interested in its long history, important place in modern Hungarian life, and beauty.
And, hey, the view from the bell tower doesn’t hurt.
If you find yourself in Hungary during a religious event, Matthias church is also a good bet for worship. Significant events marked in the church include Holy Week, Easter Sunday, and Christmas mass. Opening hours for tourists are limited during these holidays.
Attractions within Matthias Church
Mary Gate sits at the southern entrance of Matthias Church. It’s the church’s oldest structure, dating back to the 14th century. It has intricate Gothic carvings and design.
The 60-meter (197 feet) tall gothic Matthias Bell Tower was added during the church’s expansion in the 15th century. It was added by King Matthias, and bears the Hunyadi coat of arms: a raven with a golden ring on its beak. (John Hunyadi was Matthias’ father – there’s a cute square named after him in Budapest’s 6th District).
St. Laszlo Chapel, located on the church’s northern aisle, depicts St. Laszlo’s life. Laszlo was an 11th-century Hungarian king who ruled from 1077 to 1095. He is notable for bringing peace to Hungary after 4 decades of political infighting. The Church canonized Laszlo for his role in furthering the spread of Christianity across Europe. Prior to his rule, many Hungarians had reverted back to paganism.
St. Stephen’s chapel has beautiful Gothic-style windows depicting Hungarian saints.
Trinity Chapel contains the remains of King Bela III and his wife, Anne de Chatillon. The remains were originally housed in Szekesfehervar cathedral, which is southwest of Budapest. They were transported to the church in 1860.
The Museum of Ecclesiastical Art is located in the crypt. It houses religious relics and sacred items, as well as historical remnants of the church.
Matthias Church Hours
Monday to Friday – 09:00 to 17:00
Saturday – 09:00 to 13:00
Sunday – 13:00 to 17:00
The Bell Tower is open daily from 10:00 am to 17:00. It can only be visited with a guide, and visits kick off at the top of the hour.
Worth noting, the church may be closed due to special event, such as weddings or religious celebrations.
Matthias Church Tickets
Visiting the church’s interior and the church’s bell tower require separate tickets.
Matthias church ticket prices are as follows:
Adult: 1,800 HUF
Students & Senior Citizens: 1,200 HUF
Family (2 adults and 1 child): 4,200 HUF
Children (6 years and older): 200 HUF
Children (under 6): Free
These tickets also include entrance to the Museum of Ecclesiastical Art.
Prices for the Matthias church tower are the same, but require a separate ticket. Thus, if you want to visit both the church and the tower, you’ll require two tickets at 1,800 HUF each, or 3,600 HUF total.
You can also arrange a guided tour of the church, in English. Tours cost 2,500 HUF for 1 to 5 people, and 6,000 HUF for 6 to 45 people. English-Guided Tours are offered during the following times:
Monday to Friday – 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Saturday – 9:00 am – 1:00 pm
Matthias Church Rules for Visiting
Worth noting, visitors need to follow some basic rules for visiting Matthias Church. For anyone who’s visited European churches before, these rules will seen familiar!
Both women and men should consider their clothing for the day if they plan to visit the church. Shorts, spaghetti straps, and hats are prohibited. Generally speaking, your clothing should cover your shoulders and knees.
Using your phone within the church is also not allowed. Taking a picture with your phone is fine. Catching up on texts, social media, and phone calls is not.
No smoking or eating in the church. Similarly, no pets allowed. Sorry Fido!
Getting To Matthias Church
Take Bus 16/16A Szell Kalman Square (on the M2) or Bus #16 from from Deak Ferenc Ter (on the M1, M2 or M3).
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