Today, the Hungarian Parliament is one of the biggest stars when it comes to the most photographed and visited buildings of Hungary. It is familiar even for those who have not set their foot in the city. Based on reviews on TripAdvisor, it ranks among the top 25 landmarks of the world.
In the 1880s a contest was held for the design of the Parliament and it might remind you a bit of the British parliament building because the architect, who won the contest, Imre Steindl, found inspiration there.
Did you know?
19 plans arrived at the contest for the design of the Parliament. Out of these 3 were executed: one came alive as the Parliament itself, the others stand right behind you, on the other side of Kossuth square: they are the Museum of Ethnography and the Ministry of Agriculture.
The Hungarian parliaments were held in Pest and other cities (even in Bratislava, Slovakia) before the decision was made that the “House of Country” should be built.
The building that was erected over a period of seventeen years, primarily in the late nineteenth century (1885–1902), in a period of an exceptionally growth of the country:
- Heroes’ Square,
- Andrássy road
- M1 – the first underground railway on the continent
all were made during that period.
Sadly, the architecture, Steindl went blind before the Parliament was completed. He died in 1902, so in the year when the construction finished.
The erection of the House of Parliament was the greatest domestic undertaking of the period, boosting entire industries: it was made with Hungarian materials with Hungarian craftsmen (only the 6 metre tall marble-monoliths along the main stairs were delivered from Sweden).
The building gave more prestige and power to Pest that was unified with Buda and Óbuda in 1873.
Size of the House of Parliament
It is the biggest building of Hungary – and the third largest parliament building in the world.
It is so big that it could fit fifty six-six-stores residential buildings and it gives home to over 20 kilometers of stairs.
What a great venue to work off the calories of Hungarian comfort foods. 🙂 Or is it not? Honestly, Hungarian politicians are not famous for their fitness, so I blame the elevators.
Funnily enough the Hungarian politicians almost always use the back door. Literally:
The enter the building from Kossuth square, while the main door of the Parliament faces the Danube, but it is only used when someone special arrives (a foreign president, for example).
Did you know?
There are 3 restaurants, a post office, a TV studio and even a hairdresser, a tapestry and a carpenter workshop in the Parliament building.
The House of Parliament in figures
- Total floor space: 18,000 m2
- Total volume: 473,000 m2
- Number of bricks used: 40 million
- Decorated with 30,000 m2 of carved stone
- 88 stone sculptures on the façade, representing great figures from Hungarian history
- 162 statues inside the building
- 27 points of entry
- 691 rooms
- 20 kilometres of stairs
- 13 lifts and hundreds of offices.
- 3 kilometers long red carpet
- 365 smaller and bigger towers, symbolizing the number of days in a year
- Decorated with 40 kilograms of 22-23 carat gold.
- its cupola is 96 metres tall
The size of the cupola is exactly the same height as another of Budapest’s iconic buildings, the St. Stephen’s Basilica. And it is intentional, it represents the balance between church and state in Hungary.
It also symbolizes the year of the Hungarian conquest of the Carpathian Basin (896) and the Millenium Celebrations in 1896.
3 architectural styles blended: floor plan is Baroque, the façade ornamentation is Gothic, and the decoration of the ceiling has elements of the Renaissance.
Did you know?
The building is decorated by 88 statues:
- facing the Danube are the Hungarian kings and rulers such as the seven conqueror tribe leaders
- facing Kossuth square there are statues of great military leaders and princes of Transylvania
Also, 365 Gothic turrets decorate the Parliament.
Did you know?
The Parliament has no chimneys – not a single one. 🙂 It would ruin its appearance.
The heating is provided by a boiler that is in a nearby building.
For cooling, ice blocks – held in the underground tunnels – were used until 1994.
The details of the Parliament worth inspecting closely from the inside and outside. The entire building is a piece of art.
It is beautiful at any time of the day but especially at sunset and during the night when it is illuminated. The best view at night is from Margaret Bridge or from the Buda side. It seems to be floating on the river.
When admiring the details of it’s exterior, make sure you have a look at the bullet marks of the WW2 and the revolution of 1956. During the restoration of the building, some of these marks were left on the spot as a memento.
You can also visit the inside of the Parliament with guided tours, when there is no plenary session – I highly recommend it.
Walking on it’s red carpets and admiring the details are already worth your time.
Did you know?
During the communist period there was an illuminated red star on the top of the dome. It was removed in 1990 and now you can see it during a Parliament tour.
The Holy Crown is also exhibited in the House of Parliament.
The crown has had a rough history, having been lost, stolen, misappropriated, and also smuggled out of the country by crown guards, so it would not fall into Russian hands.
After WW2 it was held in Fort Knox, in the United States for decades. It was President Carter who decided to return it to Hungary in 1978.
Until 2000 it was exhibited in the Hungarian National Museum, when it was moved to it’s final place, the Parliament.
Visiting the Hungarian House of Parliament
For visitors, the entrance of the Parliament is through an underground Visitor Center, where you can buy tickets, or if you would like to skip the queue, you can by them in advance, online.
I highly recommend to visit the Parliament on a guided tour. These tours are always sell out in english very quickly so it really worth buying the tickets in advance.
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