Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Budapest Parliament, Opera and Manholes

Budapest Parliament

A must see for most people is the Parliament which we were told was the third largest in the world and when it was designed, it was modelled on the Houses of Parliament in London - certainly there is some similarity.

Parliament Outside

Guided tours are given (in various languages) and once you get through the very strict security, it is indeed ornate.

Parliament Ceiling










I am sure we were told how much gold leaf was used in its construction but this figure has been lost although I do

Parliament Carpet










remember there are 25kms or corridor carpets! 

Parliament Glass Detail







Some of the little details are very beautiful such as the window above.

Parliament Doorway













This is one of a pair of doors on opposite sides of a large corridor

Parliament Grand Staircase













which leads to the grand entrance staircase.

Parliament Debating Chamber










The debating chamber is ornate and originally had “ice powered air conditioning”. Nearby was a large room which was filled with ice and snow during winter. During summer, fresh air was pumped into the chamber through the ice filled room and thus was cool when it emerged through vents beneath the parliamentarians seats.

Parliament Cigar Holder










Outside of its doors are numbered cigar holders (in the old days, you could smoke anywhere in the building except in the debating chamber). Parliamentarians would place their cigar into a numbered slot before they went into the chamber and collect it when they came out.

The Parliament Building also houses the Hungarian Crown Jewels which were the only things we were not allowed to photograph. They are also constantly guarded by two soldiers with drawn swords

A night at the Opera

One of the reasons that we chose the particular date we did to visit Budapest was that Tosca was on at the Opera House. Going to the Opera in most Eastern European Countries is surprisingly cheap and we managed to book very good seats online in the main stalls for around €50 each.

Opera Station

Actually getting to the Opera House is very easy - one takes the yellow metro line which was the first metro line constructed in Budapest using the “cut and cover” method. In the late 1800’s they dug a trench down the middle of

340px Foldalatti Andrassy













one of the main roads in the city, put the metro tracks in the bottom of the trench and then covered it over - hence the stations are not very deep. When it opened in 1896, it was the first electrified metro system on mainland Europe (London opened an electrified route in 1890).

Opera Metro Sign

The station names are the original ones from that period. Such is its history and style, that the whole of this metro line is a Unesco World Heritage site.

Opera External



The Opera House still shows all of the granduer of its period 

Opera Carriageway Ceiing

Horse drawn carriages would pull up behind the arches in the photograph above to let their passengers dismount into the Opera House. No expense was spare in the decoration of the Opera House - above is the ceiling above the original carriage way.

Opera House Stage

Inside there is more gold leaf (5 kgs) than one could ever imagine

Opera House 2

and the boxes have better sight lines than La Scala in Milan.

Opera House Ceiling

The ceiling above the main auditorium is an astonishing work by Karoly Lotz and shows Olympus and the Greek Gods with an enormous chandelier in the middle. The opera was very good indeed and we were pleased we made the effort to go.

Jewish Quarter

Near to the Opera is the Jewish Quarter, or what remains of it. It and its people suffered tremendously during WWII

Jewish Quarter










and during other periods of unrest. Never-the-less, there are still some buildings of the period still remaining, including the Orthodox Synagogue which was severely damaged during the war.

Orthodox Synagogue Kazinczy Street










Inside it has been beautifully restored.

Orthodox Synogogue Inside










We were shown around by one of the Elders of the Synagogue who not only explained how it was used but also talked about the war and its effects upon the population.

Budapest is famous for its “Ruined Cafes” - these are cafes set up on pieces of waste ground, Near to the synagogue was one

Ruined Cafe Kazinczy Street










and the lunch we had there was one of the nicest of our stay here.



Any reader with more time than sense may have come across some pictures in an earlier blog entitled the "Manhole Covers of the Norwegian Coast". Such was the response to this unique record that I now present a follow-up entitled “Manhole Covers of Budapest”.

Manhole copy










Manhole 001










Manhole 002




















So much more elegant and stylish than those in England. Perhaps a manhole cover appreciation society should be formed.

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