The Church of Virgin Mary, more commonly known as Church Matthias was built in the 50s and 60s of the 13th century. This was the first church of the Castle Hill, the construction work was started by King Béla IV directly after the establishment of the town.
At the turn of the 14th-15th centuries it was transformed into a Gothic church of a nave and two aisles and then, in the 70s of the 15th century, Matthias further expanded it by the royal oratorium and by the southern tower which can partly be seen even at present. At that time he placed there his coat of arms with the raven in it. After that time only minor changes have been made on it.
From 1541 on, during the period of the rule of the Turks, the Turks used it as their main mosque. After 1686 it was given to the Franciscans and then to the Jesuits for a short period. In the 18th century is was damaged by fire and then by a stroke of lightning and, as a result, it was in rather bad condition by the 19th century. At that time is was already the main parish church of Buda, therefore they decided to reconstruct the church. It received its present neo-gothic form between 1874 and 1896, when it was reconstructed and expanded based on the plans of Frigyes Schulek.
During the second world war the church was seriously damaged. Its reconstruction was completed in the 70s. The roof of the church is covered by majolica tiles made in the Zsolnay factory of Pécs.
We can enter the church through the southern gate. Gate Mary from the 14th century opens from the entrance hall. The relief at the entrance shows Mary’s death.
The church received its present internal ornaments at the time of its reconstruction in the 19th century. The work of Bertalan Székely is a colourful, rich painting consisting of geometrical forms and vegetative elements. The coloured stained glass windows of the southern wall were also made based on the drawings of Bertalan Szé kely and Károly Lotz. Episodes from the lives of Saint Elisabeth and Saint Margaret of the Árpád-House and those from the life of Virgin Mary can be seen on them.
The frescos on the wall were painted by Károly Lotz, with themes of praising Mary.
King Matthias’s famous coat of arms mentioned before can be seen on the wall of the southern tower.
The most important sights inside the church are as follows:
Chapel of Loreto: The picture of the Black Madonna that became blackish due to the smoke of the Baroque period is placed to the winged altar-piece of the late Gothic period. This is the place where the legendary sculpture of the Madonna made of red marble is standing.
Béla Tower: The frescos of Károly Lotz can be seen on its walls, showing the victory of Nándorfehérvár and the episode of ordering to sound the bells at noon. On the western wall there is the circular window with stepped casing. A neo-Roman christening basin can be found in front of it.
St. Imre Chapel: Frescos illustrating the life of St. Ferenc can be seen on its western wall (Károly Lotz). The pictures of the winged altar-piece were painted by Mihály Zichy, they show the most important events of the life of Saint Imre.
Grave Chapel of King Béla III: The sarcophagi of King Béla III and his wife are placed there. Originally, they were buried in the Basilica of Székesfehérvár; however, their graves were found during the excavations and the archaeologists succeeded in identifying them based on their bones. The chapel was built at the end of the 19th century, the sarcophagi with the lying figures of the royal couple on it and with the baldachin above them were also made at that time. (It was made by Ferenc Mikula and István Hauser, based on the plans of Frigyes Schulek).
St. László Chapel: The wall paintings showing episodes of the life of St. László were made by Károly Lotz.
High altar: The neo-gothic high altar is the work of Frigyes Schulek. In the lower line of the shrine’s stained glass windows the pictures of saints and apostles can be seen, in the upper line there are the saints who played roles in the history of Hungary.
Pulpit: with the figures of the 12 apostles.Right of the high altar there is a way to the crypt. Walking across it we reach the Museum of Church Art. The oratorium of the Maltese Knights can be found there.