The invisible contrast – visiting St. Matthias Church and the Fisherman’s Bastion.

The Fisherman’s Bastion litters down the hill, the tongue of its stairs slowly descending towards the city.  The view from a delicate mixture of neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque structure is simply magnificent. After all you are on the hill, looking towards the houses and its red roofs, even more visible during a cloudy day.

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If you fancy doing a typical tourist thing – go ahead and get a picture with an eagle or a falcon. A heavy bird will sit still on your lower arm, his eyes covered. Given a chance it will spread its wings over you, protecting you from the evil world. 

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A slim, crinkle cut tower of St. Matthias church rises slowly and decisively towards the clouded sky. The church prevail the square, causing the Fisherman’s Bastion to become a part of a spectacle of beauty. You must enter the temple to fully appreciate the invisible contrast created inside, to understand the fracture of the darkness and the light, the playful outside and inside.

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The brown roof of the main building, made out of shiny tiles, captures and reflects even the smallest beams of light. The hidden contrast starts here, between a marble white structure of the whole building and its darker roof. However its real strength is fully visible inside the church, in its decorative columns, fastening the walls and the celling together.

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At first you look at the building from outside, with delight and pleasure, admiring a splendid thought of the 19 century architect Frigyes Schulek. The building is pure and innocuous, firm but light, quietly sitting in front of the Fisherman’s Bastion. Somehow both buildings became one; unite by the white colour and similar architecture.

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The magic of the church starts inside. You enter with a picture of a white building still under your eyelids. This picture is quickly crashed by a rapid change in colours, darkening light and a structure you could not anticipate. The reddish brown colour surrounds you from every angle, decorative inscriptions pushed into the walls attack your senses. The light, slowly sinking through the scarce windows, turns into the broken darkness, allowing the candles to gain control over it.

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The slender, dark arches embark on their journey towards the ceiling, from the bottom of the columns, in a crowded and limited space. The more they climb, the more space they gain. Its vertical scramble has changed to horizontal and they can finally bloom, stretching over our heads, creating a contrast against the light ceiling.

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Not much reminded from the time the first proper church was built on the side. Frigyes Schulek however took a great care in the reconstruction work and recreated the original 13 century building, discovering many original Gothic elements, lost in the past. Sadly only the foundation, some walls and columns can be dated back to the 13 century. The rest of the building came into existence in the 19 century.

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There is a fascinating museum located at the upper level of the church, with golden memorabilia on display and a corridor leading to the top of the smaller tower. A relic of the right foot of the St. John the Almsgiver rests in a silver-plated glazed copper casket. The Matthias Chalice and a replica of the Hungarian Royal Crown (the original can be found in the Budapest Parliament) lie in the displaying cabinets. The walls, surrounding the artifacts and treasures, are richly decorated. It’s hard to find a space left alone, clean and not painted with flowers and decorative inscriptions.

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We climbed the smaller tower, looked at the town from above, caught the glimpse of the Fisherman’s Bastion below and came back inside, to sit in silence, absorbing the beauties of an invisible contrast, which started outside and ended inside.

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Address: Szentháromság tér 2., District I., (Buda Castle)

Getting there: Castle bus (Vár Busz): No. 16 and 16A-116 from Széll Kálmán tér (termini of trams 4,6, M2 metro also stops there)

Opening Hours: the church is usually open: Mon-Fri: 9.00-17.00, Sat: 9.00-13.00, Sun: 13.00-17.00, on religious holidays opening hours vary.

Entrance Fees:

To the church only:

adult: 1 500 HUF,

students, retirees: 1 000 HUF,

children (up to 6 years of age): free,

family ticket: (1-2 adults +children): 3 500 HUF

Matthias Church



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