Parliament (Országház)

Parliament (Országház) (26)

The parliament is an extraordinary as well as enormous neo-gothic building adorned with towers and pinaccles, next to the river Danube. Building work started in the year 1884 and finished in 1904. Imre Steindl, the architect responsible for building it, won an architecture competition in 1883 which gave him the chance to design the parliament building. It turned out that he was the only participant who chose a neo-gothic design for the building, inspired partly from the British Houses of Parliament. 

The building is a real symbol of Hungarian national independence, and is the headquarters for the main political institutions of the country. It is home to almost seven hundred rooms that include the Presidency of the Republic, the National Assembly and an enormously rich library. It is also the world’s second largest parliament building. 

Even though we have already said that it is a neo-gothic style building, it should also be said that a wide variety of other styles can be found in it. Above all, take note of its grand, central cupola and the two large pavilions on each side which house the ´Sessions Hall` and ´Congress Hall`. This impressive cupola has a clear renaissance look, while the pavilions are more in the baroque style. 

You will also see that the main entrance is located in ´Lajos-Kossuth Square` at the end of a staircase flanked by two lions. This principal façade, dominated by a balcony, is decorated with statues that represent Hungarian kings and illustrious military figures. 

If you choose to, you can go on one of the guided tours that take place throughout the day and enter inside the parliament. Take into account though that you will only be able to see three of the rooms and the northern wing of the building. 

Among the many treasures on offer here you will find especially interesting the main flight of steps and grand cupola. The ´Staircase of Honour` combines gothic, Byzantium and baroque styles and is noted for its marble, okra granite and multi-coloured stain glass windows. The cupola measures exactly ninety-six metres in height and commemorates the conquest of Hungary by the Magyars in the year 896. It is star-shaped and made up of marble from different countries. In addition, the cupola lays on a series of pillars showing effigies of saints and kings surrounded by statues of pageboys. 

In the hall of the cupola is also the ´Crown of Saint Stephan`, Hungary’s most important national symbol, together with a ceremonial sword, sphere and 10th century sceptre made in Persia.  

The only problem connected to this elaborate building is that its outside was at one stage recovered with very porous limestone that does not stand up well to pollution. This has caused it to need constant restoration work since the year 1925. So if you come here, do not be surprised to see one of its facades covered by scaffolding.

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