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The majestic Parliament on the Danube

On the banks of the Danube, you can see an impressive building with an imposing red dome and many pointed towers which contrast superbly with a blue sky. The stately Parliament Building is one of the most famous symbols of Budapest. The beautiful exterior of the edifice is often featured on photos of the city, and the equally striking interior can be viewed during a tour.

The majestic Parliament Building was devised by the famous Hungarian architect Imre Steindl. As can be seen from features in the exterior, which are typical of English Gothic Revival, the design is inspired by the Palace of Westminster in London. The 268-metre façade extends from the Chain Bridge to Margaret Bridge. The interior is richly decorated in Renaissance and Baroque styles. There is no lack of gold: 40 kilograms were used to give the parliament its regal appearance. A tour of the impressive halls, stairways and halls is well worth the time, not just because of the beauty of the Parliament Building itself, but also for the showpieces displayed there: the Hungarian crown jewels, including the 1000-year-old Holy Crown of Hungary.

The stately Parliament Building
The stately Parliament Building

Budapest

Symbol of Hungarian pride

Hungary underwent quite a few changes at the end of the 19th century. The country became more independent from Austria, and the cities of Buda and Pest were united to form the capital Budapest. The only thing missing was an adequate Parliament Building. The Hungarian poet Mihály Vörösmarty famously stated: “The nation lacks a home.” In 1882, Emperor Franz Joseph and the Prime Minister of Hungary announced a prize for the best design which was won by architect Imre Steindl.
 
Construction began in 1885 and lasted 13 years. While Steindl combined different stylistic elements, his design is so symmetrical that the eclecticism isn’t very apparent. The interior even has neo-Byzantine influences, as can be seen in the stairwell with the Corinthian columns and huge ceiling fresco. One of the best rooms is the hexadecagonal domed hall, the grandeur of which is reminiscent of a cathedral. Here, 16 elevated statues of Hungarian kings and heroes look down on the visitors below. The confidence they exude gives a fine picture of the growing independence of Hungary and, one assumes, increasing pride of the inhabitants of Budapest during this period.

“The Hungarian poet Mihály Vörösmarty famously stated that “The nation lacks a home.””

The Hungarian crown jewels

The majestic domed hall houses the Hungarian crown jewels: the sceptre, the orb and the Holy Crown of Hungary, which is said to have been worn by the first King of Hungary Stephen I. The upper part of the crown was supposedly provided by Pope Sylvester II for the first coronation in the year 1000. The lower part may be Byzantine and dates from the 11th century. The crown has been through many adventures: it has repeatedly been stolen and battles have raged because of it. After World War II, the crown jewels were hidden at the United States Bullion Depository in Fort Knox so that they wouldn’t fall into Soviet hands. President Jimmy Carter brought them back to Hungary in 1978.

The Hungarian crown jewels

Photo credits

  • The Hungarian crown jewels: Alexis, Flickr