The most imposing building on the Pest bank of the Danube is the giant Neo-Gothic Parliament Building. It is considered one of the outstanding architectural achievements in Budapest and is one of the city's landmarks. The decision was made in 1867, following the settlement with Austria, to erect a building in Budapest where the Hungarian state parliament could meet, but it was some time before this came to fruition.
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Until 1847 parliament met in Pressburg (now Bratislava) and then in various buildings in Pest while it awaited the completion of its new seat. The giant complex took 20 years to complete (1884--1904). Behind the predominantly Neo-Gothic façade lurks an ultra-modern iron construction which gives the necessary stability to the complex arrangement of rooms. The obvious similarity of Imre Steindl's design to that of the British Houses of Parliament on the River Thames is clearly no accident.
The eye is immediately drawn to the central dome (96m/315ft high), a combination of the Neo-Gothic buttress system and a Renaissance dome. On either side of the central range are two long, symmetrical wings surrounding ten inner courtyards. In all it comprises 691 rooms. The south wing houses the Chamber of the House of Representatives and the north wing the Congress Hall (formerly the Chamber of the Upper House). Each of these chambers is crowned by a roof with four corner turrets. The façades are embellished with 88 statues by various Hungarian sculptors; on the side facing the Danube they are of Hungarian hereditary princes and kings, while on the east side facing Kossuth tér they are of east Hungarian military leaders and princes involved in the 17th and 18th C struggles for independence.
On the east side, on Kossuth Lajos tér, a flight of steps leads up to the main entrance which is flanked by two bronze lions. On the ceiling of the broad stairwell are frescoes by K. Lotz and sculptures by G. Kiss. In a niche stands a bust of the architect Steindl by A. Stróbl.
On the first floor is the magnificent Domed Hall (height 27m/88ft); the dome is supported on sixteen pillars with likenesses of leading Hungarian rulers. In the Hunting Room (Vadászterem) can be seen murals by A. Körösfoi-Kriesch. Behind this, in the Gobelin Room (Gobelinterem) is a colossal wall-tapestry depicting an assembly of Magyar princes at the time of their occupation of the country. Particularly impressive is the Grand Chamber with frescoes by K. Lotz and the great painting by M. Munkácsy, "Conquest of the Country" (by the Magyars).
The Parliamentary Library (Országgyúlési Könyvtár) has a comprehensive stock of legal, governmental and historical literature; it is reached by way of the south door on the side of the building facing the Danube.