Day 4

Museums

The day started and ended with museums. In the morning was the ethnographic museum, probably the best museum we visited; in the afternoon, the national gallery.

When we walked into the ethnographic museum, we were called over by the lady at the cloak room who, having seen our camera bags on entering, told us we had to leave them there. “No picture,” she explained. We then went to the ticket booth where the lady thereasked us if we wanted to take pictures. Puzzling. We explained that the previous woman had made us check in our cameras. “But we can take pictures here?” we asked for clarification – and somewhat excitedly, too, for we’d seen pictures of the interior of the museum, housed in the former Hall of Justice, and knew it to be a stunning sight indeed. “Yes,” the woman explained. “If you buy a photo ticket, you can.”

I glanced at the list of prices and saw, to my horror, that the “photo ticket” was three times the price of the admission ticket. Three times as expensive! Needless to say, we passed.

That afternoon, in the national gallery, after having taken only my second picture, I was approached by a security guard who asked me for my ticket. I handed him my admission ticket and he responded, “No, your photo ticket.” “Ah. That I don’t have,” I replied, putting my camera away.

The stupidity of the idea of having to pay to take pictures aside, the photo ticket could actually be a useful thing. The best museums had them; the worst didn’t.

Parliament

Undoubtedly one of the best known buildings in Budapest, and a source of national pride, is the Parliament building (Országház in Hungarian). It was built from 1884 to 1902, and was completed three weeks after the architect, Imre Steindl, died.

It’s 208 meters (682 feet) long, 96 meters (315 feet) high, and at its widest point, 118 meters (387 feet) wide.

Because it’s a functioning government building, you can’t just go in and wander around as in a church or museum, and the tour is expensive and surprisingly short (less than an hour), but nonetheless certainly worth it.

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