Although it is officially called the Church of Our Lady, the Church is generally named after King Matthias who undertook massive renovations to it. Its history goes back some 700 years and saw the coronation of many Habsburg monarchs (including Charles IV in 1916, the last of the line).
When the Ottomans invaded Budapest in 1541 the treasures of the Church were removed and taken to Bratislava to protect them. The Church then became a mosque and remained that way until 1686.
During the siege of Buda a wall of the church collapsed due to cannonfire. Behind it there was a votive statue of the Madonna which had remained hidden. The sculpture appeared before the praying Muslims and, allegedly, the morale of the garrison collapsed and that very same day the City fell to the Christian forces. This is known as the Mary-wonder.
The Church was rebuilt, but it was not until the late 19th Century that serious work was done by Frigyes Schulek to entirely rebuild the Church to its former glory. Many at the time considered Schuleks work to be unsubtle and over-decorated. However, today the Matthias Church can be appreciated for the superb work of architecture that it is.
Photo - Roy Barton
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