Trinity Square forms the heart of Buda’s Castle District. At its center stands a large plague column, but the highlight at the square is the Matthias church, the most important church in Buda. Opposite the church stands the former town hall of Buda.
The square is named after the Trinity column (Szentháromság oszlop), a large plague column that was built between 1710 and 1713 to a Baroque design by Philipp Ungleich.
The column was built to celebrate the end of the plague, and citizens hoped that it would protect them from another epidemic. The sculpture at the top represents the Holy Trinity. It sits on a sturdy pillar decorated with statues of little angels and – below – large statues of saints. The column rests on a large pedestal adorned with bas-reliefs and the Hungarian crest.
Old Town Hall
To the south, Trinity Square is bordered by the Old Town Hall of Buda (Régi Budai Városháza). A new town hall for the city of Buda was planned here as soon as the city was recaptured from the Turks in 1686. Construction of the building – designed by the Italian architect Venerio Ceresola – didn’t start until 1702. The white Baroque structure was completed eight years later.
The building was the town hall of Buda from 1710 until 1873 when the municipalities of Buda, Óbuda and Pest merged to form Budapest. In 2014 the building fell into the hands of a foundation of the National Bank, which restored it beautifully.
A corner niche below the oriel window holds a statue of the Greek goddess Pallas Athene, created in 1785 by the Italian sculptor Carlo Adami. The goddess holds a spear and a shield that bears the coat of arms of Buda.
The most conspicuous building at Trinity Square is the Church of Our Lady, better known as Matthias Church (Mátyás-templom). The church was originally built in the thirteenth century, but its current countenance dates back to the late nineteenth century, when architect Frigyes Schulek rebuilt the church in a Neo-Gothic style.
The church, long a coronation church, is one of Hungary’s most important. The interior is richly decorated and painted with a pattern found on remains of the original medieval church. One of the highlights inside is the sarcophagus of King Béla III – during whose reign the church was originally built – and his wife Agnes of Chatillon. Visitors can also see a replica of the coronation regalia; the originals are on display at the Parliament House.
Ministry of Finance Building
On the north-west side of the square stands the Ministry of Finance building. It was built in 1901-1904 on the site of a Jesuit monastery from 1747. After the Jesuit order was dissolved in 1786, the Ministry of Finance took residence here.
Construction on a new building for the Ministry of Finance, which was to replace the old monastery, started in 1901 and was completed three years later. The building, designed by Sándor Fellner, featured a beautiful Neo-Gothic facade and an equally magnificent interior.
The building was heavily damaged during World War II, and demolished soon after. It was only rebuilt between 1948 and 1962 in a simplified way, without the upper floor and elaborate spires. From then on it took on many functions, including student housing, and it was long the center of student life in Budapest.
After the fall of Communism, the building became a cultural center and was known as the Hungarian Culture Foundation. In 2018 work started to bring the building back to its original 1904 appearance. At least as seen from the square; the interior courtyards will be replaced with modern offices. The work is expected to be completed by the end of 2023 when the Ministry of Finance will once again take up home in this historic building.