Our final day of touring Budapest was here. After yet another brunch of pizza bread and baked goods, we headed out to make our way to the Hungarian Parliament. Upon entry into the Corvin-negyed metro station, we again inquired about our travel route at the information counter. With a bit of help from the people at the counter, combined with our map skills, we took the metro going to Deák Ferenc tér. From there, we were supposed to change to the red line and take the metro going to Kossuth tér, which would take us straight to the Parliament.
The journey was simple and with the aroma of mouth-watering pizzas, pastries and wraps surrounding us as we left Kossuth tér station, we arrived on the road with the Parliament Building staring straight at us. Chalk white with a reddish-pink roof and domes, it is one of the largest buildings I have ever seen, and I was fascinated by the countless windows peering at us from between the white walls. After staring in amazement at the pointed walls of the building and snapping many photographs of one side of it, we started walking towards the main entrance.
After completing a full circle of the building, we headed into the reception of the Parliament to buy tickets for our tour. Due to our lack of organisation, we had not booked tickets for the tour online, so we had to settle for the only remaining English tour. This excluded a tour of the National Assembly as it was being used by international leaders that day. Nevertheless, we did not mind much as we were still getting to see the majority of the building. The tickets for students from the EU were sold for 1000 forints (about £2.89) and as our tour wasn’t scheduled to start for another 40 minutes, we decided to grab some sandwiches and soft drinks for lunch. If you’re looking to take a complete tour of the Parliament and avoid disappointment, you can pre-book tickets at http://www.jegymester.hu/eng/Production/480000/Parliament-visit. The tour is available in eight languages: Hungarian, English, French, Hebrew, German, Russian, Italian and Spanish.
While we were waiting, we happened to witness a Hungarian protest. A man appeared inside the Parliament’s reception, giving a speech about how the Hungarian government was not spending much on the public, and how the people of Hungary were suffering. He was asking others to join the protest which was ongoing outside. I didn’t know how to react to his speech, but there must have been truth to his words. During my trip, I had seen many homeless people in Budapest; more than I had seen in any city in the UK. Whether what he said was true or not, his speech was mesmerising; he spoke with passion and easily captured mine and the crowd’s attention.
Finally, it was time for our Parliament tour. In a group of about 20 people, we passed through security and were handed headphones through which we could listen to information about the building’s history and layout. The tour began with climbing a long flight of stairs — one of 29 staircases in the building.
We then made our way through the red-carpeted halls of the Parliament. The walls were a mixture of baby pink and blue with gold, brown and blue colours on the ceiling, painted on the inner portion of the domes. Golden and white arches were at each hallway’s beginning and end, intricate stars and triangles forming tiny patterns on them. A thick gold piping coated the edge of each arch while the inner dome had a gold and brown design on it. Small statues stood at the beginning of each hallway. Tearing my eyes away from it all, I looked towards the windows only to see that they too were greatly detailed. The windows of stained glass were coloured gold, blue, red, green, orange and yellow. Looking through them towards the River Danube was a vibrant sight.
The tour then headed to the Parliament’s most impressive part: the sixteen-sided main hall. I faced three carpeted stairs, leading toward three different archways which were decorated gold with blue and white pillars rising towards the ceiling. Statues rested on the columns and the windows were colourfully stained. The magnificence didn’t end there; the ceiling was painted gold and white with thick gold piping forming crosses towards the centre of the long rectangular ceiling. The top of the crosses — that is, the centre of the ceiling — had frescoes painted within a thick, gold frame which completed the luxurious effect of the hall. I gazed wordlessly at the hall extended before me; it gave a new meaning to the word ‘royal’. The golden architecture shone in the sun and I was rendered speechless by its richness and intricate detail. As the guide told us about the hall’s construction and history, I only half-listened, as all I could think about was how the hall looked like it had been taken out of a Disney movie like Cinderella, or how similar it was to the palace in Anastasia.
After spending some time in the hall, we were taken to the room where the Holy Crown of Hungary was kept. We were not allowed to take photographs in this hall, but we did get to see the guard salute by the Hungarian guards. The crown was enclosed in a glass case in the middle of the hall, and was gold with red, blue, green and silver jewels embezzling it, and a tiny gold cross was on its top.
After a round of questions about the Parliament, the tour was over. We left the building, talking excitedly about the architecture within, and then headed home to have an early night before our flight the next day.
Our last day in Budapest was more upsetting than we had imagined it would be. We were quite sad to leave Prince Apartments, where we had had a comfortable and enjoyable stay, and even more depressed to leave the delicious Hungarian bread behind! Upon the journey to the airport, I looked out the car window, trying to keep the sight of Hungary’s charming streets in my mind but knowing that it wasn’t possible to retain those memories forever.
After arriving at the airport, it wasn’t long before we were in the aeroplane, ready to set off for the UK. As the plane took to the air, I looked down at Budapest; the first European city I had visited outside of the UK and where I had had one of the best trips of my life. As the plane rose higher, the city slowly grew further and further away. I gazed at Budapest until it disappeared from sight, but I knew that the city would always remain in my heart.
Featured image © Benjamin Thomas