Hungarian Parliament – Budapest

Watch out for the birds & the sword!

View from The Danube Sitting majestically alongside the Danube, this impressive structure dominates the Pest bank of the river and is the largest building in Hungary.  Once the largest parliament in the world (Romania has the title now), it is a must see for any visitor to Budapest.  It also ranked as one of the bargains of our trip, costing a tiny £4 to £5 (depending on the exchange rate) for EU citizens for a 45 minute tour.

Created by Imre Steindl in the 1890s, it stands as the equal tallest in Budapest along with St Stephen’s Basilica.  Built at the height of Hungary’s prominence Budapest was the twin capital with Vienna of a large empire.  Reputedly inspired by the Palace of Westminster, it looks something like our Houses of Parliament but with St Paul’s dome added in the middle for good measure.

At night I really enjoyed seeing the building from the outside, having walked around it during the day and night, also seeing it from the Danube and the Buda bank.  It’s particularly enchanting (if not a little bit spooky) at night, with hundreds of birds continually circling above the building, the spotlights seem to drive them crazy.  Its a bit like a scene from a Hitchcock movie, but thankfully they stayed circling above, rather than swooping down to attack.  You might just be able to see the white specs in the sky in the night picture.

Staircase XVII To see the inside we had booked the 10am tour with an English speaking guide.  We did as recommended and booked ahead of time to avoid disappointment, using the booking site jegymester.hu and printing our tickets to avoid any queuing at the ticket office on the day.

We met our guide inside the very modern Visitor Centre (there are free toilets just outside the revolving doors but you have to pay for the ones in the cafe) and progressed through airline style security.  There are over 100 steps to negotiate from the parliament square to the end of the tour but there are lifts all along the way if you cannot manage them.  Unfortunately this will mean missing the magnificent XVII staircase (one of 28 in the building) with its stained glass windows and gold plated lavish decoration.  The main floor and the corridors of power are no less lavish, framed with statues, frescoes and stained glass windows.

The Old Upper House Hall The Old Upper House is richly decorated Slavonian oak and although its now used for meetings and conferences only, its a carbon copy of the National Assembly Hall in the other wing, where parliamentary sessions are held.  Coats of Arms from Hungarys royal families, murals and the horseshoe arrangement of the seat gave me a sense of the historical significance of this chamber.

We were lead into the Domed Hall (no photographs allowed in this part) where the iconic Crown of St Stephen (The Hungarian Holy Crown) is located.  With orb and sceptre, the sword brandishing Crown Guard of the Hungarian Armed Forces guard  the Crown Jewels of the nation, rotating every 15 mins with appropriate pomp and ceremony.  We were also warned to give them a good 2 meters clearance at all times due to their ceremonial sword swishing that happened on a regular basis.  Whilst I knew I needed to lose a bit of weight on this trip I obeyed to the letter, not wanting the weight sliced off.

Main Staircase Although we only saw a fraction of the 600 odd rooms in the building, we also viewed the ceiling frescos by Karoly Lotz that sit at the top of the Grand staircase.  The 96 red carpeted stairs are the pinnacle of this magnificent buildings beauty and majesty.

That completed  the guided tour and we were left to peruse some great photography of the building.

An absolutely brilliant tour, full of facts and interesting information e.g. 40 kg of decorative gold was used on the building.  Highly recommend as part of any visit to Budapest.

You may also find interesting:

264 people found this helpful
18066

Share Article:

Steve Aldridge

Award-winning travel writer

Leave a comment

*

Sign up to our newsletter to receive the latest travel tips on top destinations.

Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Most Recent Articles

From a restored mansion in the Scottish Highlands to a stylish villa in Southern Spain, becoming an HPB Bondholder allows…

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.