The Hungarian Parliament Building, Budapest

grand staircase Hungarian Parliament Budapest Hungary
There are 96 steps in the Grand Stairway. There was some significance to that number, but I was so far behind the guide I couldn't quite hear her explanation.

As Kris and I were walking around Budapest last night we were talking about this city and realizing that it was really growing on us. We're getting familiar with it after two long visits (for us) in the past two years. We now have favorite restaurants, two favorite places to stay, (an AirBnB and the Kempinski Hotel) and it's got some of our very favorite buildings in Europe (St. Stephen's Cathedral, The Matthias Church, The Opera House, and the Parliament.)

We've look at the Parliament building many times from the perspective of the Danube and the opposite bank of the river on the Buda hill. But, until today, we'd never been inside. Don't know why we'd given it a pass, but we made up for it today.

hallway Hungarian Parliament Budapest Hungary
One of the hallways in the Parliament building we weren't allowed to enter. But the door was open, so I took a shot. Pretty.
ashtray Hungarian Parliament Budapest Hungary
The hallways outside the Deputies chambers are lined with elaborate ashtrays–remnants of another era when the deputies would slip out for a smoke during boring orations. Each slot is numbered so the deputy could keep track of where he laid his cigar if he had to dip back into the chamber before he was finished.
deputies chamber Hungarian Parliament Budapest Hungary
The Deputies Chamber, where you can actually go in and sit for your tour if you happen to be special. We weren't. We were stuck in a small gallery and got just a peek before being herded along.
Budapest Parliament Gold Ceiling-1
The ceilings are inlaid with real gold and feature paintings and lovely ceramics as well. (Photo by Kris)

Unfortunately, the only way to see the inside is a guided tour, which costs 5200 Hungarian Florins (about $18 USD.) The tour itself is rather a rushed affair with about 50 people and a guide who is mostly interested in getting you through the parts of the enormous building that you're allowed to see as fast as possible.

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And the final indignity is in the most beautiful room in the place, under the central dome where all the statues of the Hungarian kings line the walls and are illuminated by beautiful windows, no photography is allowed. We were told the reason was because the Hungarian crown jewels are there. What the hell? Do they think we're casing the place?

So, that's a bit unsatisfying. However, the rest of the interior vistas mostly make up for the disappointment. They're spectacular. Scrape up the $18 and go. And lag behind as much as the accompanying policeman will let you and take your time and get a few nice pictures. But don't even try to raise your camera in the dome room. There are lots of police and soldiers around, who seem a lot more serious than your usual tour guides and minimum wage guards who usually enforce the no photo rules.

One more thing: here's a very nice picture of the outside of the Parliament at night that Kris took from our Viking Cruise boat.

Touring Budapest
So far we've only taken about a million photos of the Budapest Parliament Building. Finally, we stepped inside. (Photo by Kris.)

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10 thoughts on “The Hungarian Parliament Building, Budapest”

  1. Ha! Those soldiers in the dome room pulled me away from the crown – I was so engaged with looking up that I didn’t realize I’d overstepped the boundary. I, too, was ticked off we couldn’t take pictures in there and had the same reaction as you. Glad you made it inside this trip. I think it’s worth every cent of the $18. Can you share some of your closeup photos of the marvelous statues?

    • Sorry, Emily, but I didn’t shoot any close ups of the statues. There was a security policeman following me very closely, and he kept hurrying me along so I didn’t get to take my time as I would have liked. All in all, not really a very welcoming tour. They could do a lot better.

  2. Beautiful! We spent 2 months in Budapest last summer and explored almost everything there was to discover – except the interior of parliament (for some of the reasons you cite). You said it best – Budapest is a place that grows on you. We felt ehhh after the first month but the more we visited the unique aspects of Budapest (thermal baths, ruin bars) the more we got to like it. We also really liked the Hungarians.
    Frank (bbqboy)

    • Two months? Wow. I’d love to do that and get a lot deeper than we did. We, too, liked the Hungarians, and we’ll definitely be back to Budapest, and also leave some time for the rest of Hungary, too.

    • Thank you Nora. I really have nothing bad to say about Budapest. The people are lovely. The city is beautiful. The food is good. Perhaps we’ll connect on our next visit. We love to rely on the locals’ suggestions for what to do.


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