One of the most important historic buildings in Hungary sits on the banks of river Danube. It forms a part of an incredibly scenic skyline and houses the treasure of Hungary – Holy Crown. It is a rare treat to be able to visit this exceptional place, look at the incredible dome from the inside and learn about the importance of number 96.
199 members of National Assembly work here, supported by 600 employees. The office of the Prime Minister, along with its administration, resides here as well. One million admissions is registered every year and to no surprise – a half of them are tourists. The tour in English is available at various hours and if you are an EU nationality – do not forget to get your ID or passport, as it will save you a lot of money. We have paid 4.000 HUF instead of 11.000!
The dimensions of the building are impressive – 268 meters long, 123 meters wide. The top of its dome reaches 96 meters. The number 896 signifies the year that Hungarian Magyars first settled in the region and that is why the 96 is so important to Hungarians. In Budapest no other building is taller than 96 meters, even St. Stephen’s cathedral is only 96 meters high.
During the constructions the builders used 40 million bricks, 550 000 blocks of precise masonry, and steel structures with a total weight of 2.800 tons. There is 88 sculptures inside the building and 162 on the exteriors, completed with a large number of gargoyles and ornaments. About 40 kilograms of gold was used to decorate the building inside – a surface from 3 meters above is decorated in pure gold!
During the tour you will visit few parts of the building – the grand entrance, the dome where the Holy Crow is kept and the seating room of the members of parliament. The stone columns you can see at the main entrance are 6 meters tall and weigh 4 tons each! All the stained glass windows are original. They survived the WWII hidden in a storage. The building was hit by over 300 bombs during that war, but luckily it was restored and everyone can admire its breath-taking architecture.
The heating and ventilation system, which was put in place here and in Budapest Opera, as we have found out later, is a state of art. In order to control the temperature and cleanliness of the air, two surface pool were installed in the middle of the square the building sits on. The overflowing water curtain of the pools was used to clean and cool outside air. Underground tunnels allowed the fresh air into the building through walled air ducts. Subsequent modifications of the square necessitated the removal of the pools. Instead large air-inlet wells were installed in the vicinity of the walls. The wells were covered by decorative cast-iron grills. The unused tunnel section were re-opened and made accessible for the visitors.
The steam generated by the furnaces is channelled through underground pipes into the Parliament building. The hot steam partly heats cast-iron radiators, and partly serves to heat the incoming air of the larger halls with heat exchangers. Air is released to the exterior by air-duct crevices in the walls, also providing ventilation.
There is a dedicated visitor center you can get your tickets from and a small shop, offering souvenirs, Hungarian style! And at the end of the tour you can look around an exhibition showing the history of the building.
Visiting Parliament in Budapest was a completely different experience than doing a tour at Copenhagen Parliament. Both tours were excellent and very interesting, but I have to admit – the Parliament in Budapest building was much much grander!
Catch Metro 2 and leave at Kossuth Lajos tér. You can also take Tram 2 (as we did) coming from Jaszai Mari ter further North on the Pest embankment, at the foot of Margaret Bridge or from Boraross ter in the South, by Petofi bridge, and get off at the stop in Kossuth Lajos ter. Bus 15 and trolleybuses 70 and 78 also pass by the Parliament building.There is no way you will miss the building!
The tours in English are at 9.45 am, 10 am, 12 pm, 1 pm, 2 pm, 3pm on several days of a week. Please check the online booking calendar for available days and hours on a given day of the month.
The price of Parliament tickets depends on nationality and age. EU citizens can get a 50% discount on each tour, while EU Students get a 75% discount. The prices of the 45 min tours is as follows:
- EU Citizens over 18 (full price, Adult tickets): HUF 2000
- EU Citizens under 18 (Student tickets): HUF 1000
- non EU Citizens over 18 (full price, Adult tickets): HUF 5200 (as of March 1, 2015)
- non EU Citizens under 18 (Student tickets): HUF 2600 (as of March 1, 2015)
- Children under 6: free of charge.
Be aware there is a list of forbidden items – more info on a website.