Five Facts About The Hungarian House Of Parliament

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The Hungarian House of Parliament (Országház in Hungarian) has been a part of the Danube panorama on the UNESCO list since 2011. Built at the end of the 19th century, it is an important symbol of Hungarian nationality, the National Assembly Seat, and an excellent exhibition center. The building has countless beautiful details, and its history is fascinating. 

According to a Hungarian writer, the House of Parliament was “a colorful mixture of a Gothic chapel and a Turkish bath,” referring to the impressive features of the building. Well, its designer Imre Steindl liked the past centuries. His architectural interest was initially historicism, then Renaissance and Gothic. Imre Steindl’s dream was an elegant Neo-Gothic palace standing firmly on the banks of the Danube.

1. The Story Behind The Hungarian Parliament

For centuries, descendants of the conquering Hungarian leader Arpad enacted laws without using a permanent home for the Hungarian National Assembly. However, after the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, the dynamically changing nation began to feel the need to change this situation. Thus, in 1882, a contest was announced to design a building that adequately represented the Hungarian Parliament, and Imre Steindl won the public call of the competition. Three years later, on October 12, work began on the sandy area surrounded by old houses. It was the most significant investment of the late 19th century, and nearly a thousand people worked on it for nineteen years.

2. Inspiration

The building was built between 1885 and 19004 as per the plan and design of Imre Steindl, who was inspired by the Parliament Buildings in London. Imre Steindlhad in mind an impressive building that, in addition to typical Gothic, also represents the forms and characteristics of other times. ; the facade, towers, and statues inside are Neo-Gothic, the central dome is Neo-Renaissance, and the ground plan is Baroque. Another important source of inspiration was his studies: he dedicated his life to the Middle Ages and became a professor of medieval architecture at the Technical University of Budapest. During his student years, he studied the historical buildings of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy and undertook study trips to France. In one of Imre Steindl’s drawings of the tabernacle of the church of Bartholomew, we can see the motifs that he incorporated and developed during the construction of the Parliament and the parish church of St. Elizabeth of Hungary.

3. House Of Hungarian Parliament In Numbers

A gigantic amount of material was used for the construction of the building – almost 40 million bricks and 30 thousand cubic meters of processed stone. In the spring of 1894, the masonry was completed, and the structure was raised to the level of the main cornice. The building is 268 meters long and 118 meters wide and has a tower of 96 meters (this represents the date of the conquest of Hungary, 896). It has 365 small and large towers. The number refers to the days of the year. The building is also full of sculptures outside, and every lace, cornice, and column has its decorative function. There are 691 rooms, 29 staircases, 27 gates, and ten courtyards, and the length of all stairs is about 20 kilometers. The building was inaugurated in 1896 on the occasion of the 1000th anniversary of the founding of Hungary. 

4. Where Are The Chimneys Of The Parliament Building?

If you look closely at the pictures of the building, you may notice that there are no chimneys anywhere in the Parliament after a while. But of course, it heats up in winter. The building’s heating and ventilation were considered one of the most modern systems in Europe. This unique heating and cooling system was the product of the genius of Imre Steindl. While a boiler house provided the heating built a few blocks from the building, the Parliament was cooled by two fountains and a network of tunnels. The humid air flowed through the fountain’s drain holes into the tunnels and traveled 80 meters underground until it reached the Parliament Buildings, which cooled further along the way. This cool air moved under and within this mysteriously winding network of tile-paved tunnels. These airy “boulevards” are divided into alleys and connect to each part of the building. In the winter heating season, hot steam air was combined in a ‘mixing chamber’ under the Assembly Hall, and this warm air was circulated into the halls and chambers of Parliament through floor vents made of brass, copper, and bronze. The stale air was captured and channeled from the chandelier’s ventilation system into an underground network, exiting the building on the banks of the Danube through a vast cavern. In 1927, the entire Kossuth square was reconstructed, and the network of tunnels was shortened. The fountains were replaced by a well with a grill and decorated with a cast iron hemisphere. This well is much closer to the building than the fountains were. Water pipes have been installed to provide water creating a light mist that allows the whole building to access fresh cool air. This method is still used, and from the 1930s until 1994, large blocks of ice were placed here on hot summer days to create even cooler air for the building. Through this underground circulation system, you can still smell the grass inside the building whenever the lawn is freshly mowed in Kossuth Square.

5. The Holy Crown Of Hungary

The core of the building is the cavernous hexagonal (16-sided) Central Hall. It is here that the Hungarian coronation regalia – including the Holy Crown, scepter, orb, and mantle – is displayed. The Kingdom of Hungary used the coronation crown for most of its existence; from the 12th century, kings were crowned with it. The Crown symbolized the king’s power over the lands of the Hungarian Crown (the Carpathian Basin) and was a key sign of legitimacy. In the history of the country, more than fifty kings were crowned by him, until 1916, and the last king, Charles IV. Hungarian and Austrian Emperor. “During World War II, the Crown was taken out of Hungary to protect it from the Germans and Soviets. On May 2, 1945, the Holy Crown and other jewels were handed over by a Hungarian Army colonel to a U.S. Army colonel near Egglesberg, Austria. The Crown was packed in a large black bag. It was initially protected at Wiesbaden in the American Zone but was later transferred to the United States Gold Reserve at Ft. Knox, Kentucky. It was not considered spoils of war; instead, it was stored by the U.S. government in the hope that it would one day be returned to the Hungarian people. (Source: U.S. Embassy in Hungary.) After undergoing extensive historical research to verify the authenticity of the Crown, it was returned to the people of Hungary on January 6, 1978, at the behest of U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

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Kamal Kanta Dhungel
Kamal Kanta Dhungel
1 year ago

Very informative piece of writing

Triwati Thapa
Triwati Thapa
1 year ago

Thank you sir🙏😊