There are many fine parliament buildings around the world, with some featuring iconic elements, but the Orszaghaz in Budapest truly stands out. The Hungarian National Assembly building sits by the banks of the Danube in Kossuth Square and is one of the most spectacular political buildings in Europe, with its dome and numerous spires on the outside and astounding opulence within. It was built over a 17-year period from 1885 to 1902, at a time of great development in the city.
Designed by architect Imre Steindl, no less than 40 kg of gold was used in its building and this can still be seen around the interior, with its high ceilings, cavernous halls, wide staircases and huge chandeliers. It has a baroque floorplan, with gothic ceilings and Renaissance-style windows. The design placed a dome in the centre and a turret halfway along either side, this symmetrical design emphasising the unity of a parliament of two halves as it then was, with an upper and lower house. Overall, it is 213 metres long and 123 metres wide, dimensions that exceed even those of the Houses of Parliament in London. Needless to say, the way the country has been run has changed a lot over the century and more in which the building has existed, with over 40 years of Communist dictatorship.
Nowadays, however, the building hosts a modern, fully-functioning democracy. Visitors can pay to enter the building and tour its magnificent chambers, as well as watching live debates. As may be expected, there are restrictions on what one can wear or bring into the building, as well as a code of conduct. The parliament building itself is not the only thing to see here. Kossuth Square is itself an important location, regarded as the square of the nation, and from here one can also see the many details of the exterior of the parliament, which include dozens of busts, statues and monuments to famous Hungarians. Part of the Danube Vista UNESCO World Heritage site, the parliament is undoubtedly a must-see on any visit to Budapest.