Church on Sunday: St. Matthias in Budapest
It took four trips to Budapest, two visitors, and the one day I decided against bringing a big camera, but we finally saw Matthias church. Matthias church is one of the highlights of the Castle District in Budapest. We first walked by this marvel on our first Budapest trip in November. At that time, and then again in April, the church was closed for renovation. But on our last trip, we noticed the doors were open and bought tickets to see what all that scaffolding was about.
Though the interior is a bit dark, it’s hard to miss how colorful the church is. It was originally built in 1015, but Turkish occupation (when the church became a mosque) and subsequent renovations have changed the building significantly. The current style dates from the late 19th century, when the surrounding Fisherman’s Bastion was also built. The church is officially the Church of Our Lady but King Matthias helped renovate the church and was married there-twice. The church was also the site of Hungarian coronations.
Budapest tourism was in high swing so there were some crowds and a lot of tour guides. After overhearing varying reports about what each window meant, I can’t vouch for any accuracy. We decided to simply wander around and take in the distinct colors used on walls, windows and the pulpit.
The church also features an interesting detail echoed throughout the Castle District: a bird with a ring in its mouth. The bird is the symbol of King Matthias, who, legend has it, once killed a bird after it stole a ring from the King. The truth is more elaborate, but the moral is the same: birds stink.