Parliament buildings make a statement about a country, it’s history and ambitions. They need to strike a balance between being an open, democratic space (in democracies, less relevant in North Korea), and being safe from those wishing to cause harm / attack the state. Reflecting on the 65 countries I visited before Covid I would have visited the capital cities of most of them. These are the ones that for various reasons stayed in the mind years later.
Parliament Haus (Papua New Guinea)
An effective blend of the traditional and modern, built in 1984, it has an impressive facade and well maintained gardens. When I visited at the weekend the door was open and seemingly no one was around, only in PNG… The PNG Embassy in Canberra is built in the same Sepik style.
Unusual in having two parliamentary buildings within sight of each other. The original ‘provisional’ parliament building opened in 1927 for 300 people. By the time the permanent parliament building opened in 1988 there were 3,000 people working in the ‘provisional’ building. I’ve written elsewhere on all the Australian parliamentary buildings, as each state has it’s own as well.
Palace of Westminster (United Kindom)
The so called Mother of Parliaments is an obvious choice for this post, particularly given that I worked in London for five years. No photos were allowed inside but I took a tour of parliament, which I’ve done a few times now, including around the parliaments of Australia (and a number of the state parliaments), Canada, New Zealand, and Tibetans in Exile (see below).
Parliament Hill (Canada)
Parliament Hill or The Hill is a grand collection of gothic style buildings housing the Canadian Parliament. I don’t think I’d ever seen an image of it, so it was new to me when I visited Ottawa and took a tour of the buildings, including the 1927 Peace Tower. The main buildings were designed and built shortly after the Palace of Westminster. There is definitely an influence…
The oldest parliament in the world, the Althing, met for nearly 900 years (until 1800) in the beautiful fields of Pingvellir. They now meet in a rather ordinary building in Reykjavik, far more functional, much less scenic.
Parliament House (New Zealand)
Parliament House isn’t the iconic Beehive, but the neighbouring 1922 marble clad neoclassical building. I’ve visited it a number of times for tours (including an excellent art tour run monthly) and training (for public servants), and spent four month working in the office building behind it.
Georgian Parliament Building Kutaisi (Geogia)
The newest building here, opened in 2012, it was closed soon after when parliament moved back to Tbilisi in January 2019. Now occupied by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, it was built over the site of a memorial to Soviet forces in WW2.
Hungarian Parliament Building (Hungary)
Opened in 1902, this remains the largest building in the country, and is an iconic landmark of Budapest. It took nearly 20 years to build, with the architect dying before it was completed.
Tibetan Parliament in Exile (India)
Based in McLeod Ganj, India, the Parliament of the Central Tibetan Administration has adopted a Westminster style seating arrangement, with opposition facing off against the government in two sets of benches. Most of the funding of the buildings has come from donations from other countries, and the Indian government provided the land for it.