Lying on the bank of the Danube is one of the largest, most important and beautiful buildings of Hungary, the Parliament. It is the seat of the National Assembly and the home of legislation.
Prior to the building of the Parliament, the National Assembly had to meet in different places for centuries. During the economical and cultural changes of the Reform Era, the concept of the Hungarian national identity developed and the need for a parliament building grew stronger. After a competition was held, the architect of the new building was chosen to be Imre Steindl and the construction was commenced in 1885 and finished in 1904.
Steindl was influenced by the Palace of Westminster and Gothic Revival architecture and the finished building shows attributes of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture. The structure of the Parliament reflects the political system of the 19th century: there is a separate room for the Upper and Lower Houses. Influenced by the emerging nationalist ideology, the architects used mostly Hungarian material and Hungarian workers for the construction. Also, the floral decoration of the building represents the flora of the Carpathian Basin.
The Parliament has 691 rooms, it is 96 meters high and has a length of 268 meters. It has 10 courts, 29 staircases, 27 gates and the first long distance district heating system in Europe. The Holy Crown and the royal insignia are kept at this seat of the Hungarian Parliament and government offices. Group guided tours are available.
A unique aspect of the Parliement building is its original heating and ventilation system which was one of the most modern of its kind in Europe. The cooling was originally done by air blowing through cold water pools, and later by using large blocks of ice.