Red Carpet… For me?
When I told friends that I was going to be in Budapest, several made a strong point of telling me about how special the Hungarian Parliament Building was. I had just arrived from the other old capital city of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and had a big fill of amazing architecture in that wonderful city. After seeing so many beautiful things in Vienna, it was going to take a lot to impress me on the next leg of the trip.
Triple red carpet? You shouldn’t have!
When I arrived in Budapest the Hungarian tourism board had already set up quite an itinerary for me. When I was being walked though the pages of information I was given about the places I was to visit by my superguide Vivien, her face would literally shine when she spoke about parliament. I had not seen any photos of the interior of the building, so for me it was going to be a surprise. On my first night in the Hungarian capital, Vivien took me on a nice long walk along the Danube river banks and I was able to see the parliament from the outside. Like all the other buildings along the waterfront it was spectacularly illuminated and the scene whetted my appetite to see more of this exquisite edifice.
It wouldn’t be long before I got my chance.
After getting my security clearance and meeting my guide for the hour I was permitted to photograph inside the Hungarian Parliament, I got my first glimpse of the lavish interior. Instantly my jaw hit the floor and I had to take a moment to compose myself. The views progressively got better with each step along the path of the tour I was given. While my official guide barely spoke any English, I think he could quite clearly see by the look on my face, just how blown away I was. Of course “Wow!” seems to be a rather universal word and well understood in so many of the places I visit, and this was a wow worthy place indeed.
“He who has the gold makes the rules.”
The construction of the Parliament building began in 1885, inaugurated on the 1000th anniversary of the country in 1896 and in 1904 construction was completed. 40 million bricks were used in the building process as well as half a million precious stones and 40 kilograms (88 lb) of gold! That’s about half a million precious stones and 40 kg of gold more than was used in the construction of my apartment. Inside the building there are 10 courtyards, 13 passenger and freight elevators, 27 gates, 29 staircases and 691 rooms.
“Politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians.”
~Charles de Gaulle
It’s funny that we so often complain about or even loathe the politicians we elect to govern us, yet we seem to build them palatial buildings to work in and pay them well above what they are worth. I love the architecture and intricate designs in these buildings though and I do realize that it is a matter of national pride to have parliaments, senate and congress buildings, city halls and other government buildings look as good as they do. It makes for some rather wonderful photographic subjects as do the cathedrals, mosques and temples of major religions, imperial and royal palaces, and lavish concert halls.
Getting the opportunity to photograph the interior of the Hungarian Parliament building came as a bit of a surprise. I will usually ask for permission to photograph these types of places but most of the time I’m denied access for security reasons. Despite my best efforts, even in Canada I was not allowed to photograph the parliament building in Ottawa or the national assembly building in Quebec City. I’ll keep trying!
Holy Cow… Um, I mean Crown!
As my time was winding down I was brought to the central hall where they have the The Holy Crown of Hungary (also known as the Crown of Saint Stephen) on display. This was the coronation crown used by the Kingdom of Hungary for most of its existence and in Hungarian history over 50 kings were crowned with it. The Holy Crown of Hungary, like all European Christian crowns symbolizes a halo and designates the wearer as a ruler by divine right.
The crown was supposedly created during the reign of Béla III under Byzantine influence but there are many differing theories about this “fact”. Most of the legends surrounding the crown’s origin revolve around the coronations of Stephen I, the first king of Hungary. King Stephen’s (who would later be canonized Saint Stephen) coronation would mark the beginning of Hungarian statehood. The date of his coronation is given as either Christmas day of 1000 AD or January 1, 1001 AD.
Sixty Special Minutes
I knew that I had some pretty special photos when I departed from this amazing building and it was fun to work on them after a few months of having the files beckon me from the hard drive where they reside. One of the curses of doing this kind of work is that it often takes me a long time to finally process the images I take, simply because there are so many. Where do I begin? Which photos are the priorities? The easy answer of course if I always finish any commissioned photos and then make my decision based on possible stock photography use, fine art possibilities and interesting historical facts or stories that may lead to an interesting blog post.
Most of the interior photos that I take like these require special permission, planning, cutting through red tape and even a bit of good luck. Even working with tourism boards does not guarantee you access to many places. I’ve been turned away from several amazing locations even when I had local and national tourism boards make requests on my behalf. It can be quite frustrating to travel so far to take photos of incredible locations only to be turned back at the last moment. This of course makes it so much more special, when everything goes right and I get to do what I love best; to take photos of places that inspire me (and hopefully a few others as well). With that inspiration and sixty minutes, I was able to get these photos and a whole lot more. I’m looking forward to the next hour that I can spend like this and hope to see quite a few of those hours in 2012.
Happy New Year everyone!
Barb Cochran says
Ken, I love following your blog. Your pictures show a beautiful story that is garnished most appropriately with your written account. Love it!
art lover says
I am learning a lot of vocabulary from you eg WOW and HOLY COW.☺ Granduer! Granduer! Your work. And the parliament buildings too.
So I did wait and it was worth it. WOW indeed!!!! you were right!
and, after all, this is my favorite parliament building photographed by my favorite photographer… what else could i possibly ask for? (except of course world peace and a few other things like that?)
May your 2012 agenda be full of wonderful trips like this so we get to keep reading this posts and looking at your beautiful pics :)
Wow indeed! Have you ever visited Brighton, England? I would love to see you photograph inside Brighton Pavilion.
Karen Johnson says
WOW is right! You really captured the richness and beauty of this building!
Stunning images! The details are just incredible and so ornate. Love the background story behind the images. Cheers!
Lisa Wood says
Holy Cow doesnt seem to cover it :) Oh my gosh that is amazing – I have never ever seen anything like it!
Dottie Minor says
I love your photography, but this building is setting a new standard. Way to go!!
Beautiful shots here Ken!
Rich McPeek says
Wow! Beautiful shots! Gorgeous!
Lifecruiser Travel says
Triple wow! Fantastic photos. I’m green of envy ;-)
That is the most stunning architecture I’ve seen in a long time now! Now Hungary is going up on my travel list for sure!!!!
These pictures are absolutely amazing! What a site to see.
Ken Kaminesky says
Barb, Thanks so much! I love sharing the images and stories. It’s nice to know that and appreciated :)
Art, thanks as always!
Gaby, Thank you for the wishes. Hope 2012 lets you see more of the world too :D
Kat, I’ve never been to the UK. Something I hope to change soon!
Karen, This is one building that is is a total photographer’s dream. You’d love it!
Matt, Eden, Rich, Jenna, Cheers for the kind words.
Lisa, Holy cow indeed… I wish I could have had the whole day there!
Dottie, Hope I can keep up to the new standard ;)
Lifecruiser, You’ll love Hungary. It was such a great travel experience and I hope to go back one day soon.
Hello! Just want to say thank you for this interesting article! =) Peace, Joy.
Rebekah Esme says
Wow, this is simply amazing!
I have visited the Parliament in Budapest and remember being amazed at the grandeur, detail, and beauty of it as well. Your photos really capture it! And how amazing to have an entire hour to yourself to get those photos (jealous!). I hope to visit Budapest this summer and see this amazing building again.
Ferenc Mikaczo says
Was glad to see your amazing pics of the Hungarian Parliament. I am Hungarian and I live in Budapest, I also have been to the building some times and I never could make good pics due to the bad light conditions. To be honest I have never seen any such perfect pics made about the parliament building than yours, let me congratulate for them! I hope your return one time and make good shots of other buildings too in Budapest, there are some more perfect spots for making similar pics. How much time do you spend in your home country: Canada? :) I am envy a bit, travelling to various countries and taking pics, hm :)
Hello, I want to ask you a question: The Parliament can be visit alone, without guide, no guided tour? how many hours take an ordinary visit? (I want also take some photos).
Hi Ken Kaminesky, I really love to watch your beautiful pictures that you taken. In addition, the magnificent inside pictures of Hungarian Parliament is so wonderful; is out of imagination. Thanks for sharing these.
Erin Duke says
Quite the site and sight! Gorgeous capture! :)
We have just been to Budapest (literally 2 days ago) and we didn’t managed to get inside the Parliament, what a shame! :)
We just got back from the Balkans and Transylvania Tour, We joined the tour of the Hungarian parliament. It’s Stunning, Magnificent, Breathtakingly beautiful. The guards told us no picture taking inside the parliament. Your photography is stunning. Did you use a flash? Thank you for sharing us your photos.
Ken Kaminesky says
OS, I never use a flash on these images. It is a common misconception that a flash will help light up an area but the truth is that you’d need dozens of flashes to give any kind of interesting effect to a place like this and they would have to be very powerful. The trick is to use a tripod… no flash :)
Ioana, I have no idea. You should look it up on Google and I’m sure the Hungarian Tourism Board could answer you as well.
Mikaczo, I would love to come back sometime soon! You have a beautiful country and such nice people. I never know how much time I will spend on the road and how much at home. This changes all the time.
Thanks everyone for all the wonderfully nice comments. I appreciate each one and it motivates me to keep sharing. :)
Wow! Great views. I have seen this building from outside for several times and was fascinated but never went inside.
Filip Demuinck says
What a fantastic building and such great picture quality. Words are missing.
The Hungarian Parliament Building in Budapest is magnificent! I’ve never seen such a place :)
The building is fantastic, phenomenal!
But the people who work inside it…
Your photos are really STUNNING!! wow, would love to feature one of them on Budapest Daily Photo blog. – Zannnie
Been there too, it’s unbelievable… There are about 40 kg of gold on those walls. And the “Holy Crown” is held there as well…
I think it’s the most beautiful Parliament building in the World.
Nasir Khan says
In 2013 I saw this building from inside. It was the most magnificent building I have ever seen before: Simply amazing, a work of art and splendour that leaves one speechless!
Nasir Khan says
In 2013 I saw this building from inside. It was the most magnificent building I have ever seen in my life. Simply amazing, a work of art and splendour that leaves one speechless!
Great pictures, I was there last week, and the way you wrote this brings be right back to that special moment.
Looks like you had a nice and quiet tour, nowadays it’s very popular and packed with tourists. I was not allowed to take any pictures in the central hall where you see the holy crown. I’m borrowing your pictures to put in my photo album, also because you know how to take pictures :) Happy New Year to you as well!
Mary King says
After seeing the chapel in Melk monastery with all it gold ornaments and statues, I never thought that I would see anything more lavish. How wrong I was.
Everything about it was out of this world.
I am so glad that I saw it.
Your photos are very good, to capture such beauty in photos is hard.