Visiting the Parliament building in Budapest has been on my to do list for a long time. I had seen photos of the inside of the Hungarian Parliament building, which looked spectacular, and I wanted to see it for myself. A building that looks so magnificent on the outside is sure to look glorious inside right? I was not wrong.
I had a bit of a false start on my visit to the Parliament. The first time I went, I was informed that the tour for the day was only 30 minutes long instead of the regular 45 minutes, but the price was the exact same. I decided to go back another day.
I had no problem purchasing a ticket. I arrived about 15 minutes early and there was barely a line. A great thing about visiting in the winter. After a short waiting time, we were lead to the entrance of the building, just off to the side. There is a minor security search – a scan of your bag and coat and walking through a metal detector.- and you’re in!
Walking into the building, you step onto a lush, soft carpet. Following along are two guards meant to keep everyone together and in check. The building is built in the Gothic Revival style. Other examples of this style include the Parliament building in London – they look a bit similar don’t they?
Construction on the building started in 1885 and the building was inaugurated on the 1000th anniversary of the country in 1896. About one thousand people were involved in construction, during which 40 million bricks, half a million precious stones and 40 kilograms (88 lb) of gold were used. Inside the building there are 10 courtyards, 13 passenger and freight elevators, 27 gates, 29 staircases and 691 rooms.It reaches a height of 96 m (315 ft), making it one of the two tallest buildings in Budapest with the other being Saint Stephen’s Basilica.
As you start up the staircase, you can’t quite see what is ahead of you. All of a sudden, the ceiling disappears and you’re looking at the Grand Stairwell.
Surrounding you in all directions are elaborate gold decorations and beautiful stain glass. The definition of opulence and wealth. They spared no expense in putting together this room. Or if they did, it certainly didn’t look like it. This was my favorite room in the whole building. I could have stood there and just stared for a long while. It was beautiful!
This is the coronation crown used to crown kings since the twelfth century. Our tour guide emphasized that the power to rule the country lays in this crown and if you weren’t crowned with it then you are not a legitimate king. Surrounding the dome are the statues of all the rulers of Hungary.
You’re lead through a series of chambers where journalists gather to interview politicians and to follow what is going inside the legislative chamber.
The final room you visit is the session hall of the upper house or where the National Assembly meets. I cannot image working in such an environment. I think I would spend more time staring at all the splendor than actually concentrating on what is being said.
One of the unique features of the Parliament building is its cooling system which helps to maintains a constant temperature in the building during the hot summers. As you can imagine, heating or cooling a building of this size takes a lot of effort.
The designer had a system of grates built into the floor of the building which lead to another building. There they use blocks of ice to cool the building and hot water to warm the building.
At the end of the tour, you’re lead through a series of hallways before turning into a small doorway that leads to a small set of stairs. Our tour guide joked that we entered through the grandest of staircases, but leave through the tiniest and unassuming one.
For even more beautiful images of the Parliament, check out Ken Kaminesky’s post where he was able to snag a private tour and photograph areas where the average visitor cannot.
Do you like visiting government buildings when you’re touring? What have been some of your favourites?
Hungarian Parliament Building
1055 Budapest, Kossuth Lajos tér 1-3
Getting There: The closest Metro stop is Kossuth Lajos Tér which is on the Red metro line. However, the Parliament is easy walking distance from the Blue Metro from either Nyugati pályaudvar or Arany Janos utca. It is also walkable from the 4-6 tram running along the korut.
Good to Know
Currently, the Parliament area is under construction and you will need to purchase your ticket from the Museum of Ethnography which is right across the street. Don’t be intimidated by all the construction work. You can walk through it to where you need to go.
The tour was shorter the first day I went because Parliament was in session. That tour would have omitted that last room. It is hard to say when Parliament will be in session so if you’re visiting, try to go early in your trip incase you need to shuffle things around.
Be sure to read the notes regarding visiting the Parliament buildings. You don’t want to be breaking any rules.
When you purchase your ticket, the website, and the cashier note that you need ID. I had my passport with me but no one asked me for any kind of ID.
The entrance price is 3500 HUF for general admission. I felt like this was a bit steep. 3500 HUF can get you a very decent meal in Budapest and depending on your priorities, your money could be better spent elsewhere. Having said that, the inside is gorgeous and these photos don’t do it justice.