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Matthias Church (Mátyás-templom) is a colourful place of worship on Castle Hill in the older Buda part of the city. It began life as a Roman Catholic church in the late 13th century, but was converted into a mosque when the Ottoman Empire overtook the country during the 1500s. After the end of that empire’s control of the city, the building was renovated and returned to a Baroque design by the architect Frigyes Schulek towards the end of the 19th century. He kept a number of the Gothic features, while adding the eye-catching colourful diamond roof tiles and the fearsome gargoyles, thus creating the church's unique look.
The church is ringed by the bright white terrace of the Fisherman's Bastion, also designed by Schulek, which offers stunning views over the Danube, the Citadella and Pest. The seven towers here are representative of the tribes which settled in the area in 896. Keep an eye open for the bronze statue of King Stephen I of Hungary, who was the country's first monarch.
Make your way into the church itself, and take some time to admire the beautiful gold-leaf frescoes and to bask in the multi-coloured light cast by the stained glass in the windows. Visit the Ecclesiastical Art Museum contained within and admire the medieval stone pieces, sacred artefacts and replicas of the Hungarian crown and coronation jewels.
Try to schedule your visit to coincide with the Latin high mass on Sunday to enjoy the tones of the huge organ and the excellent choir. The church orchestra also performs all year round.
Entry to the services is free, but there is a fee at all other times. Visitors are requested to act in a respectful manner, to cover their shoulders and for men to remove their hats. The church is normally open all day during the week, on Saturday mornings and Sunday afternoons. English-language audio guides are available for rent.
The walk to Matthias Church through hilly Buda is short, but can be quite challenging for some; you can also take the Castle Bus.
Like to make your stop at Matthias Church even more memorable? Don't forget to try one or two of these things to do:
If you're after even more activities, check out our Budapest things to do page.
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