Monday, November 12, 2012

Parliament Area of Budapest

An interesting fact about Budapest is that the city was actually two cities, Buda and Pest. They were separated by the Danube River. Ferry services or temporary bridges served to connect the two until permanent bridges were built.

The Parliament building (or Orszaghaz) dominates the Pest side of the Danube. It is a huge place, one of the largest parliament buildings on the planet. The designer, Imre Steindl, copied more than a bit from the London Parliament building but added the round baroque dome and hall in the middle. He won a competition in the 1840s to design the building. The plan was to have it complete for the 1000th anniversary of the coming of the Magyars to the area, so by 1896. It was completed in 1902. The highest point on the building is 96 meters high in honor of 896 AD.

Front of the Parliament building

Side view of the Parliament building

The inside of the building houses the Crown of St. Stephen, the symbol of Hungarian rule for centuries, along with the other crown jewels. We saw a copy in the Matyas Church in the castle (which will come up in a later post!). I didn't manage to tour the Parliament though that is available. The tour is free for EU citizens and a little pricy for others.

Copy of the crown jewels that are in the Parliament

The building has some nice decor around the outside, including a statue to Francis II Rakoczi (whose face is on the 500-forint note) as well as nice plants and a view of the castle.

Francis II Rakoczi statue

Pretty flowerbed

Hazy view of the castle

Across the street from the Parliament is the Museum of Ethnography, into which I could not go since the museums are closed on Mondays (I probably couldn't have done the Parliament tour either, come to think of it). It displays much of the folk culture of Hungary. The outside is quite distinctive as well.

Museum of Ethnography, Budapest

Detail of the roof sculptures

Also nearby is a monument to Kossuth, a leader of the 1848 uprising against the Austrian rulers.

Kossuth Memorial

Kossuth followers

More Kossuth followers

The man leading them to revolt

The statue represents Kossuth leading the Magyars (the original tribes to settle here) to independence. Lajos Kossuth was a lawyer and the first president of the new Hungarian state. He had trouble managing the country, especially the military, and eventually had to flee the country. The country reunited with Austria and he died in Turin in 1894.

The history of Hungary is quite turbulent, with many different factions having control throughout the centuries, including the Huns, the Turks, the Austrians, the Germans, and the Soviets. And occasionally, the Hungarians. No wonder they have a reputation for being so tough.

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