7 Beautiful Parliamentary Buildings In Europe
Politics and travel do not often mix. With many European countries experiencing shifting political patterns, you might prefer to skip the topic altogether.
But that is no reason to miss out on some of Europe’s most beautiful parliamentary buildings. Historically, parliamentary buildings were as grand and ostentatious as possible. They were designed to elicit a sense of national pride in (or sheer fear of) the ruling government.
This is a bonus for you if you are looking for impressive places for your travel photos. Here are seven beautiful parliamentary buildings you can reach by rail.
1. Hungarian Parliament | Budapest, Hungary
The Hungarian Parliament building should be on top of almost any list of global architectural sites. This grand structure is one of Europe’s oldest legislative buildings, and it is an unmissable focal point in the Budapest. It is at a perfect spot along the Danube River and is painfully photogenic at all times of the day and night. Although it is stunning from the outside, you can also purchase tickets to look at the garish interior.
How to get to Budapest by train: There are easy rail connections to Budapest from throughout central Europe, including regular journeys from Vienna (Austria), Prague (Czech Republic), and Bratislava (Slovenia).
2. Reichstag | Berlin, Germany
Berlin’s Reichstag building has a lot of historical significance for Germany, Europe, and the rest of the world. It was completed in 1894 and has made it through the Nazi period, Cold War, and reunification. It did not go unscathed ― it famously survived an arson attack in 1933. However, a vast reconstruction in the late 1990s has made this building one of the most dramatic sites in Berlin.
How to get to Berlin by train: There are regular trains to Berlin from throughout Germany and neighbouring countries. You will arrive in the central train station.
3. Binnenhof | The Hague, Netherlands
The Hague is the office of the Prime Minister of the Netherlands. It is also the meeting point of both houses of the State’s General of the Netherlands. This beautiful complex of buildings alongside Hofvijver lake was originally used as a castle and residence for the counts of Holland. As such, there is immaculate attention to detail that makes this parliamentary building worth visiting, whether you are politically-minded or not.
How to get the The Hague by train: You can reach The Hague in 20 minutes by train from Amsterdam. Trains leave every 15 minutes.
4. The Palace of Parliament | Bucharest, Romania
Bucharest’s Palace of Parliament is one of the largest administrative buildings in the world, second only to the Pentagon in the USA. It is also the fourth-largest building in the world. It is 84 meters high, has an area of 365,000 square meters, and has a volume of 2.5 million cubic meters. The interior is ornate and houses several administrative offices as well as three separate museums.
How to get to Bucharest by train: There are trains to Bucharest from cities across Romania, as well as long-distance trains from Budapest (Hungary), Sofia (Bulgaria), and Belgrade (Serbia).
5. Austrian Parliament Building | Vienna, Austria
The Austrian Parliament Building in Vienna is where both houses of the Austrian Parliament conduct their sessions. In true Austrian style, the building is impressive both inside and out. It is on Vienna’s famous Ringstraße. This makes it a regular stop for tourists who may be unsure about the building’s purpose, but have no doubt about its grandeur.
How to get to Vienna by train: There are frequent trains to Vienna from throughout Austria, as well as easy connections to Slovenia, Hungary, Germany, and Switzerland.
6. Parliament of the Czech Republic | Prague, Czech Republic
The Parliament of the Czech Republic is in the capital Prague. It is made up of two chambers, but the senate gets most of the attention from tourists. This is because the senate meets in the Wallenstein Palace. The beautiful baroque building dates back to the 1600s. Along with its manicured garden, it is one of Europe’s top parliamentary sites.
How to get to Prague by train: Prague is easy to reach by rail from throughout the Czech Republic. There are also regular long-distance and night trains to the capital from neighbouring capitals.
7. Palace of Westminster | London, United Kingdom
Now that the Pass is valid on the Eurostar, there is no reason not to include London in your itinerary. The stunning Palace of Westminster, which is the meeting place for the House of Commons and the House of Lords, is one of the city’s most iconic attractions. It sits picturesquely on the banks of the Thames. Although it is seen renovations and alterations since its reconstruction in the 19th century, it has lost none of its charms.
How to get to London by train: The Eurostar high-speed train connects London with Paris and Brussels. Your Pass will cover this trip ― you just need to pay for a seat reservation.
Even if architecture and politics are not really your thing, there is something quite humbling about standing at the foot of one of these legendary parliamentary buildings. Their sheer scale, or unabashed ostentatiousness, makes them worth a look on any Interrail journey.
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