Since almost half a million people visit the parliament building in Budapest each year it must be worth it – that’s what I thought. So I researched and planned and researched some more and decided that we are going to plan our visit once we’re in Budapest and skip the expensive tickets that third parties offer.
A good call. The weather was unpleasant on our first day in Budapest, ideal for an indoor activity. When we arrived at the visitor centre there were still tickets available for a German tour and we only had to wait about 45 minutes before the tour started. We passed the time in the little museum that is free and that helped a lot to refresh our knowledge of Hungarian history.
We came back to the entrance on time for the tour. An English tour started at the same time as ours. Even before we were let through the barrier at the entrance some announcements about the security in the building were made, headphones were handed out and cloakroom and meeting points were explained. That must have been confusing for many of the participants. Our group was supposed to be formed of 16 people but we were only four. Only after we all had our headphones on some participants realised that they were in the wrong group.
A 50-minute tour of the parliament building Budapest
The tour of the parliament building Budapest starts in staircase XVII. In total, there are 29 staircases in the building. If they are all pompous like that I don’t know. But in this staircase, there is shimmering gold everywhere. Unfortunately, there was hardly enough time to take in all the details and to take pictures. The guide was hurrying onwards and security personnel followed the group and drove us forwards.
At the end of the stairs is a corridor. The great square in front of the building is visible through a window. In the corridor are richly adorned frescos. We got to see a great hall through some glass doors. The Upper House used to hold meetings here. Today, the hall is a conference venue. Usually, the room is part of the tour, but an event had just ended and the hall was still closed. (In case not all parts of the building can be visited on the day, there is a discount for the ticket price!)
The next stop is by the great staircase. 96 steps lead up from the main entrance of the building to the dome hall.
The pomp and all the gold is overwhelming. I can easily see that climbing these stairs as a guest of the state must be impressive. Light enters the room through coloured glass windows and leaves a warm glow on everything.
We enter the dome hall coming from the great staircase. Taking photos is now no longer permitted. The security staff has a very close eye on the guests. My camera was off but I still had to go through an additional check. Others, who disrespected the prohibition had to delete the pictures under the eyes of the security staff.
The domed hall is the geometrical centre of the parliament building. From here one has access to both wings of the building.
In the centre of the room are the Hungarian crown and the regalia of royalty. Two crown guard soldiers guard them. The room is impressive. The dome is almost 27 meters high. The dome is formed by 16 ribs at which bases statues of former Hungarian rulers rest.
Through a door, we reach the lobby of the Upper House. Our guide pointed out that they have Europe’s biggest handmade tapestry here. It is 7 x 21 metres big and I found it rather underwhelming.
We made our way back to the great staircase which we walked down accompanied by a security person. He guided us through some more corridors to a little exhibition. This is where the tour ended.
I have to admit, I had hoped for a little more than that. We were given some information about politics during the tour. I would have been interested more in the history of the architecture, some anecdotes about the building and more impressions from different rooms. I felt like I was rushed through the building. The guide merely recited his text and only very few emotions were evoked on my part. Too bad! I have been on tours that spoke to me a little more.
The Hungarian parliament building is at the Danube banks. It is modelled after the Westminster Palace in London and was built between 1885 and 1904. The building is impressive 268 metres long and 96 metres high. This makes It one of the tallest buildings in the city.
Some numbers that I find fascinating:
10 courtyards, 27 entrances, 29 staircases, 691 rooms and 365 towers are part of the Parliament Building Budapest.
Kossuth Lajos tér 1 – 3
01.04. – 31.10.
daily between 08.00 and 18.00
01.11. – 31.03.
daily between 08.00 and 16.00
Attention! There is limited access to the building when a parliament meeting is in progress!
Adults (EU citizens): 2400 HUF
Adults (non-EU citizens): 6000 HUF
Discounts are available
Attention! An ID is needed to purchase tickets at the visitor centre!
Tickets are also sold online!
Tours of the Parliament Building Budapest:
The building can only be visited as part of a guided tour. The tour is included in the admission fee.
Tours are available in different languages. Please find a preliminary schedule below and keep in mind that this can change due to higher visitor numbers or special events.
Hungarian: 10.45, 14.00
English: 10.00, 12.00, 12.30, 13.30, 14.30, 15.30
French: 11.00, 14.00
German; 10.00, 13.30, 14.30
Russian: 12.30, 15.30
Italian: 10.30, 13.45, 14.45, 15.45
Spanish: 10.30, 13.45, 14.45, 16.00