- 20 Oct 2023 5:43 PM
The Taj Mahal? Forget it. The Eiffel Tower? Nah. The Pyramids of Egypt? Pah! According to the travel site Stasher, a global guide to luggage-storage facilities in major cities, the world’s best tourist attraction is the Parliament building right here in Budapest.
The team at Stasher fed data categories for 99 leading destinations and arrived at the conclusion that our very own Országház, built for the Hungarian Millennial celebrations of 1896 and eventually completed eight years later, comes out on top.
The categories they used were, in order of importance, average ratings for Google Reviews, presence on Tik-Tok (previous surveys referred to Instagram, a telling sign of the times), distance from the nearest airport, tourist safety according to a reputable international source, and quality of local accommodation, according to booking.com ratings, within a one-mile radius.
Given the fact the Parliament building, overlooking the Danube, is two or three tram stops from one of the finest hotels in Europe, and two five-star beauties just beyond it, Parliament should walk the accommodation category. And, with Budapest experiencing a significant uptick in tourism post-pandemic, it’s no surprise that Google reviewers are swooning over the city’s key attractions and Tik-Tokkers are filming them.
The seat of the country’s National Assembly, Parliament is the largest building in Hungary. Its dramatic façade in Gothic Revival style reflected in the waters of the Danube, the Hungarian Parliament covers a floor area of 18,000 square metres, making it one of the largest seats of government in the world.
Within the 16-sided Dome Hall, soldiers armed with sabres guard the Hungarian Crown Jewels, centrepieced by the Crown of St Stephen, a composite of the one gifted to the founder of the Hungarian nation by the Pope in 1000.
While the actual business of parliament only takes up around 12% of the space within the building, it’s well worth going on the guided tour to get a sense of the enormity of the place, built when Hungary was at the height of its powers in the 1890s.
The tour lasts 45 minutes, with audio or actual tour guides available in 15 languages. As well as the Crown Jewels, popular stops include the row of numbered cigar holders in brass, which MPs would avail themselves of when called to the debating chamber, so they could resume their smoke afterwards.
Note also that admission to Parliament – the world’s best tourist attraction, no less – is completely free on the upcoming National Holiday of October 23.
Words by Peterjon Cresswell for Xpatloop.com
Peterjon has been researching the byways of Budapest for 30 years, extending his expertise across Europe to produce guidebooks for Time Out and his own website liberoguide.com