Located on the banks of the Danube river, in Budapest’s Pest district The Hungarian Parliament Building or Országház has been witness to some of the country’s most pivotal moments over the last 200 years. It is a magnificent example of Neo-Gothic architecture, although displaying Renaissance and Baroque characters too and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Hungary. The Országház, which translates to the House of the Nation, is the seat of the National Assembly and holds regular debates, including those attended by the Prime Minister and his Cabinet.
The history of the imposing building begins seven years after the unification of Buda, Óbuda, and Pest on 17 November 1873, with the name ‘Budapest’ given to the new capital, when the Diet of Hungary (Supreme legislative institution in the medieval kingdom of Hungary) resolved to establish a new, representative parliament building, expressing the sovereignty of the nation. So in 1880, an international competition was held and the Hungarian architect Imre Steindl emerged as the victor. The construction of the building began in 1885 and it was inaugurated on the 1000th anniversary of Hungary in 1896, and fully completed in 1902. Unforchanatelly Imre Steindl went blind before his grand design was completed and died in 1902.
Covering an area of 18,000 square meters, The Budapest Parliament building is the third largest Parliament building in the world. It has 691 rooms, 20 kilometers (12,5 miles) of stairs and at 96 meters (315 feet). About 100,000 people were involved in construction, during which 40 million bricks, half a million precious stones and 40 kilograms (88 lb) of gold were used. The façade is ornamented with 90 stone sculptures representing great figures from Hungarian history with another 162 statues adorning the building’s interior.
The Hungarian Parliament Building has stood through two World Wars, a number of uprisings and revolutions, and a shifting urban landscape. The building witnessed the occupation of Hungary after Bela Kun wages war on Czechoslovakia and Romania in 1919 and communists power take over under Bela Kun. Romanian forces occupy Budapest and hand power to Admiral Miklos Horthy.
Another event the building was witnessed – on 1 March 1920, the National Assembly of Hungary re-established the Kingdom of Hungary. However, it was apparent that the Allies of World War I would not accept any return of King Charles IV (the former Austro-Hungarian emperor) from exile. Instead, with National Army officers controlling the parliament building, the assembly voted to install Horthy as Regent; he defeated Count Albert Apponyi by a vote of 131 to 7.
In 1956 tragic events happened in front of Hungarian Parliament Building, when during an uprising on October 25, against the ruling Communist regime of the Hungarian People’s Republic, protestors gathered in front of the Parliament. While little is known about the circumstances, shots were fired resulting in the deaths of many. A memorial to this event stands in the square today.
Up until 2013, Hungary’s Parliament building was littered with bullet holes from two world wars and the revolution of 1956.