Located in the heart of the Buda Castle District in Budapest is the historic Matthias Church. The current church was built in the 1400’s in the Gothic architectural style, but it was extensively remodeled in the 19th century. The original church was built around 1015, but nothing remains of the original Romanesque architectural style. The Matthias Church sits in front of the Fisherman’s Bastian, which is the wall with towers that surrounds the Danube River side of Castle Hill. The church is clearly visible from the Pest side of the river, especially with its colorful roof.
The church is named after King Matthias, who ruled Hungary in the 19th century. The church has been the site of several coronations as well as royal weddings, including both of King Matthias’ weddings. Unfortunately, there was actually a wedding at the church when we toured the Buda Castle District, so we weren’t able to go inside. The church itself has had as tumultuous of a history as Hungary itself. The church has had several names before becoming the Matthias Church, including The Church of Mary and The Church of Our Lady. After Hungary was conquered by the Turks, most of the church’s treasures were transferred to Bratislava and the Turks converted it to a mosque. It was later then restored and many of the Gothic features restored.
During World War II, the church was badly damaged by both the Germans and the Soviet Union, so work was done in the 1950’s and 1970’s to again restore it to it original grandeur. In addition to the church, there is also the Holy Trinity Statue that is near the main entrance of the church with wonderful details. Regardless of its history, Matthias Church is certainly one of the most important features in the Buda Castle District. The diamond patterned roof, gargoyles, and the raven with a ring in its mouth make it very interesting to see. Apparently the raven with the ring symbolizes a story of when King Matthias took off his ring and a raven grabbed it and flew off with it. King Matthias then chased down the raven and slew it in order to get his ring back.
There are many cities in Europe that have maintained their old-world charm and Prague is certainly one of them. There are so many interesting buildings in Prague that display various styles and unique features. One of the things that makes the architecture of Prague so fascinating is that it encompasses several styles including Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque. From the castle complex that looms over the old town of the city to the many unique towers throughout the city, there is so much to see. Even if you never stepped foot inside one of the amazing buildings, you could walk the streets for a couple of days and still find yourself in awe of the stunning architecture.
From the moment that we arrived in Prague, we focused our cameras at the façades of the buildings as we walked through old town. One of the reasons that the architecture of the city remains so diverse is that it was not destroyed during WWII and therefore didn’t need to be rebuilt like many other European cities. The Romanesque architecture is based on what you would expect, the style of the ancient romans with symmetrical designs, round arches and towers. This style of architecture spans back to the 9th century and lasted for about 400 years.
Prague, like a lot of cities throughout Europe, was highly influenced by the Gothic architecture of the 13th century. With the flying buttresses and pointed arches, the Gothic style can be found in more than just the St. Vitus Cathedral in the castle complex. Between their dark exteriors, gargoyles, and imposing size, the buildings seem to demonstrate the power of the church and put fear in the hearts of regular citizens. Today, these buildings are truly fascinating with all of the intricate details and impressive towers.
Perhaps not surprisingly, following the Gothic period, the Renaissance architecture was lighter and more appealing. Based on Greek and Roman architecture with columns, symmetrical and geometric features, they are bright and open. Starting in Florence in the 15th century, the Renaissance style also features statues that were also influenced by the ancient works of Greece and Rome. These buildings provide quite a contrast to the darker Gothic buildings of the city.
There are other styles of architecture to be found in Prague that include Baroque, Classicism, and Historicism. Regardless of the period, walking the streets of Prague is truly a trip back into history. The contrasting styles located in such close proximity to each other, makes the experience even more fascinating. The architecture of Prague is part of what attracts so many visitors every year and has put the city on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Located in the heart of old town in Nuremberg, St. Lorenz Church dominates the skyline. It is a medieval church that was built in the 1400’s, although it was largely damaged during WWII like many other buildings in Germany. Dedicated to St. Lawrence, the church has many interesting features, both in the interior as well as the exterior. St. Lorenz Church was built in the gothic architectural style and is the largest church in Nuremberg. Originally a Catholic church, the church was converted to Lutheran after the reformation.
One of the most prominent features within the church is the hall choir with its tabernacle. There is also some beautiful artwork that had been donated by wealthy citizens when it was first built and remains there even after the reformation. Like all gothic churches, the stained glass windows are also very stunning. With its high ceilings and large nave, the music of the organ and choir must sound beautiful inside of this wonderful church.
Although St. Lorenz Church is the most prominent church in Nuremberg, there is also the Church of Our Lady, which is another wonderful gothic style church in downtown Nuremberg. The mechanical clock on the front façade of the Church of Our Lady is one of the most interesting features of the church. We did not go inside of the Church of Our Lady, but we imagine that it is quite beautiful as well. There is also the St. Sebaldus Church, which has twin towers that look almost identical to those of St. Lorenz Church. When looking out from the Nuremberg Castle, both churches rise above the rooftops of old town. We definitely enjoyed our trip to Nuremberg and the St. Lorenz Church was definitely one of the highlights of our time in this historic city.