Leaving the safe turquoise cocoon of our hotel, we set off in the direction of Budapest’s Parliament building. Oddly reminiscent of Britain’s Westminster, the Parliament building was the largest of its kind built by Imre Steindl in 1902. With 691 rooms, the current government only takes up 12 per cent.
Building works currently surround the Parliament building, as they finish renovations in Kossuth Square, which added to the surreal quiet of the nearby surroundings – there was not a soul to be seen. Once we’d found the meeting point for our tour guide, we were herded through by two Stasi-esque policemen to the holding bay. After our pockets had been thoroughly examined we were allowed to enter the Cupola Hall.
The Sacred Crown is a national symbol of Hungarian identity, synonymous with the ruling power. A gift from the Pope to St Stephen in 1000AD (the first Hungarian Christian monarch), it was moved from the National Museum to the Parliament building despite much discord about fusing of the country’s political and religious affairs. The importance of Istvan I (St Stephen), as Hungary’s founding father, is reinforced by the prominent position of St Stephen’s Basilica at the top of the iconic Chain Bridge, the first permanent passage across the Danube.
These days plenty of floating restaurants line the not-so-blue Danube and offer a marvellous view of Buda Castle lit up once darkness descends. Amidst twinkling fairy lights, the Columbus pub, offers a variety of hearty beef stews alongside local Hungarian wine , taking one back to the time of early herdsmen and shepherdesses, when agriculture was the country’s main export.
Get the Knack
We stayed at La Prima Fashion Hotel – close enough to everything to walk and brilliant decor!