[Matthias Church is a church located in Budapest, Hungary, at the heart of Buda’s Castle District provides visitors with one of the most prominent and characteristic features of Budapest’s cityscape.. Officially named as the Church of Our Lady, it has been popularly named after king Matthias, who ordered the transformation of its original southern tower. According to church tradition, it was originally built in Romanesque style in 1015. This building was destroyed in 1241 by the Mongol invasion.
The current building was constructed in the florid late Gothic style in the second half of the 14th century and was extensively restored in the late 19th century. It was the second largest church of medieval Buda and the seventh largest church of medieval Hungarian Kingdom. In many respects, the 700 year history of the church serves as a symbol (or perhaps a reminder for Hungarians) of the city’s rich, yet often tragic history. Not only was the church the scene of several coronations, including that of Charles IV in 1916 (the last Habsburg king), it was also the site for King Matthias’ second wedding to Beatrice of Aragon. During the century and a half of Turkish occupation, the vast majority of its ecclesiastical treasures were shipped to Pressburg (present day Bratislava) and following the capture of Buda in 1541 the church became the city’s main mosque. Ornate frescoes that previously adorned the walls of the building were whitewashed and interior furnishings stripped out.
The church was also a place of the so called Mary-wonder. In 1686 during the siege of Buda by the Holy League a wall of the church collapsed due to cannonfire. It turned out that an old votive Madonna statue was hidden behind the wall. As the sculpture of the Virgin Mary appeared before the praying Muslims, the morale of the garrison collapsed and the city fell on the same day. Although following Turkish expulsion in 1686 an attempt was made to restore the church in the Baroque style, historical evidence shows that the work was largely unsatisfactory.
It was not until the great architectural boom towards the end of the 19th century that the building regained much of its former splendour. Hungary was preparing to celebrate the 1000nd Anniversary of Conquest – the Millenium Celebrations, and the Hungarian capital was under total renovation. The architect responsible for the works on Matthias Church was Frigyes Schulek. Not only was the church restored to its original 14th century plan but a number of early original Gothic elements were uncovered. By also adding new motifs of his own (such as the diamond pattern roof tiles and gargoyles laden spire) Schulek ensured that the work, when finished, would be highly controversial. The shiny rooftiles, the candleholders inside, the pulpit and even the main altar dedicated to Virgin Mary was made in the famous Zsolnay Porcelain Factory.
Inside, visitors tend to head straight for the Ecclesiastical Art museum which begins in the medieval crypt and leads up to the St. Stephen Chapel. The gallery contains a number of sacred relics and medieval stone carvings, along with replicas of the Hungarian royal crown and coronation jewels.
Beside three coronations and two weddings, Matthias Church basically the parischurch of Budapest’s 1st district. The most notable coronation is told to be the one of Emperor Franz Joseph and Queen Sissi, who after the Commitment of 1867, which meant the beginning of the Hungarian-Austrian Monarch were crowned here as Hungarian king and queen on 8th June 1867. Franz Liszt the worldfamous Hungarian composer wrote the music of the mass for the notable occasion, but was not let to conduct – being not a nobleman, Liszt was not allowed to attend the ceremony.
Matthias Church gives home to a copy of Hungary’s – after the Holy Right Hand of Saint Stephen – most honoured relique, the herm of King Saint Ladislaus too.