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.
Guided tours are given (in various languages) and once you get through the very strict security, it is indeed ornate.
I am sure we were told how much gold leaf was used in its construction but this figure has been lost although I do
remember there are 25kms or corridor carpets!
Some of the little details are very beautiful such as the window above.
This is one of a pair of doors on opposite sides of a large corridor
which leads to the grand entrance staircase.
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.
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.
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
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).
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.
The Opera House still shows all of the granduer of its period
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.
Inside there is more gold leaf (5 kgs) than one could ever imagine
and the boxes have better sight lines than La Scala in Milan.
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.
Near to the Opera is the Jewish Quarter, or what remains of it. It and its people suffered tremendously during WWII
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.
Inside it has been beautifully restored.
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
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”.
So much more elegant and stylish than those in England. Perhaps a manhole cover appreciation society should be formed.