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Houses of Parliament (Országház) 11E V. Kossuth Lajos tér, www.mkogy.hu/guide, free admission for European Union citi­ zens. ••• It’s “a Turkish bath crossed with a Gothic chapel,” scoffed Gyula Illyés, a great 20th century poet, referring to the Parliament building. Work on the Parliament started in 1885 and an average of 1,000 people per year worked on it for 17 years. Its designer, Imre Steindl (1839 – 1902), started as an apprentice stone carver, but went on to study architecture in Vienna and Budapest. He was 44 years-old when this work started. By the time it neared completion he was so ill that he could direct the work only from a chair carried to the spot. He died just a few weeks before the building was completed. The building is 268 metres-long, 118 metres-wide, and has a spire that reaches 96 metres above the ground. There are 691 rooms and the length of all of the stairs put together is about 20 kilometres. The building’s structure is readily apparent, especially if seen from across the river. On either side of the central hall under the dome, the council chambers of what were formerly the Commons and the Upper House are situated. “I did not want to establish a new style with the new Parliament because I could not build a monumental building of this kind, one that would be used for centuries, with ephemeral details. My desire was to combine this splendid medieval style with national and personal features, humbly and carefully as is required by art,” the architect declared in his inaugural address at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. He must have meant Gothic when speaking of “style”, even though the ground plan of the building shows Renaissance features and the way space is organized inside is very often Baroque in character. It is thus a summary of Hungarian eclecticism. The novelist Kálmán Mikszáth attended the first session in the building as a minister of parliament (MP) and summarized his impressions by declaring: “Dazzling, true, but still gaudy.” The writer said this about the inside of the building, since the outside was covered with white, Hungarian limestone. As it turned out, the stone was not hard enough. Renovations of the façade began in 1925 and are still in progress. Since the first edition of this book, much has happened to this building. The red star (which was obviously not part of the original design) has, of course, been removed from the spire. But more importantly, since 1990 there is real work being done inside – Italianstyle politicking. As there is only one chamber (there’s no upper house), one of the two large halls is rarely used. Since five percent of the popular vote is required to secure seats on the party list under the Hungarian electoral system, it is unlikely that there will be more than four or five parties in the House. (This system

PARK_Budapest_belivek_v065.indd 146-147

The City and The Víziváros Area

walk 2 ang

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1. Munkácsi Hall 2. Assembly Hall (original Lower House) 3. South Lounge 4. Office of the Prime Minister 2006/11/22 17:39 Page 91 5. Cupola Hall 6. Office of the Speaker of the House 7. North Lounge 8. Former Upper House (used for conferences) WALK TWO 9. Hunter Hall

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The Houses of Parliament

➑ DunaRAKPART PESTI ALSÓ

The City and The Víziváros Area

KOSSUTH LAJOS Kossuth Lajos tér TÉR

Walk TWO

Walk TWO

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➋ KOSSUTH LAJOS Kossuth Lajos tér TÉR

➊ 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

Munkácsy Hall Assembly Hall of (original Lower House) The Houses Parliament South Lounge Office of the Prime Minister Cupola Hall Office of the Speaker of the House North Lounge Former Upper House (used for conferences) 2011.04.20. Hunter Hall

15:49:21

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András Török's Budapest: A Critical Guide  

The Celebrated Insider's Guide, upgraded many times, probably the deepest and funnieast and truest portrait of any major European city. With...

András Török's Budapest: A Critical Guide  

The Celebrated Insider's Guide, upgraded many times, probably the deepest and funnieast and truest portrait of any major European city. With...

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