The Hungarian Parliament, an immense piece of neo-Gothic grandiloquence was build over a period of two decades (1884-1904) by the architect Imre Steindl. It is the third largest parliament building in Europe. By the time it was completed, its neo-Gothic style looked hopelessly out of date in a city that was learning to relish the sensuous pleasures of Art Nouveau, and critics scornfully compared it to both a Turkish bath and a wedding cake. Today it seems madly huge for such a small country, but in its day it administrated the affairs of a significant stretch of the Habsburg empire, stretching from the Tatra Mountains to the Carpathians in one direction and to the Adriatic in the other. Inside the building, the walls and pillars are decorated in real gold above head height, while within arm's reach the gilding is just gold paint, so that no one can profit from peeling it off. Parliament's most prized exhibit is the crown of the canonized King Stephan (Istvan). The building is so big that always a part of it is under renovation...

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