Budapest is often admired for its historic charm, and this is thanks to the lack of skyscrapers. If you have ever been to Budapest, you know how no buildings are reaching the height of 96 metres – except for two. The reason for this? History.
Even though the Hungarian capital city is full of architectural wonders, where historic buildings live peacefully next to modern business centres, you will not see a skyscraper in sight. The Culture Trip has summarised why buildings in Budapest cannot be taller than 96 metres.
If you hike up the Gellért Hill or take a walk up to the Buda Castle and look over the city, you will notice that almost all buildings stand at the same height – at any rate, they do not reach 96 metres, let alone tower above it. There are no ultramodern skyscrapers on the skyline; thus the historic appearance of the city is preserved.
The two tallest buildings that you will spot are about eight-stories high, precisely 96 metres in height: the Parliament and St. Stephen’s Basilica.
No other structures can overshadow these two symbolic buildings, which were finished almost at the same time. The Parliament was designed for celebrating the 1896 millennium of the Hungarian Conquest that took place in 896. This is the reason why 96 is such a magical and symbolic number in Hungarian history. Not only is the height of the parliament 96 metres, but this number appears at the main stairs leading to the cupola hall too, where the number of the steps is 96 sharp.
The Parliament was finally finished in 1904, and a year later St. Stephen’s Basilica too. This might be surprising as the Basilica has an ancient feel, tricking you into thinking that it was built in the 16th century. The Basilica stands at 96 metres too, this way these two iconic buildings, representing the government and religion, serve as a reminder for the nation that these entities are equal and it is important that they are respected similarly and that they respect each other as well.
The Culture Trip mentions that contemporary Hungarian society raised the question whether this regulation should be left in the past in the name of progress or should the uniformity of Budapest’s skyline, respecting the city’s and nation’s history be kept.
(Structures used for industrial purposes are allowed to be higher than 96 metres)