The Top 10: Parliament buildings

The world’s most beautiful seats of legislative assemblies

John Rentoul
Friday 11 October 2019 20:01 BST
‘Parliament without compare’: Gothic magnificence in Budapest
‘Parliament without compare’: Gothic magnificence in Budapest (Getty/iStock)

Thanks to Allan Faulds, who compiled a heroic Twitter thread of the buildings housing the lower house of parliament of all 193 countries of the world, which is well worth reading in full and very funny. Here, in no particular order, are my 10 favourites.

1. Hungary (above). As Allan says, “This is it. This is the parliament. A legislative building without compare.” Gothic. Tick. Dome. Tick. Red. Tick. He also says it is “unutterably gorgeous inside too”, and I’ll take his word for it.

2. Romania (see slideshow below). This also featured in my Top 10 great buildings in 2014. It’s vast, and vastly impressive. Started in 1984 and unfinished by the time of Ceausescu’s death in 1989. It’s finished now, but 70 per cent empty.

3. Trinidad and Tobago. Allan comments: “One day, some guy who loves the colour red is going to review parliament buildings, and when he does, we will be ready with the Red House.”

4. Armenia. Now that he has mentioned it, Allan is right about the “mild university campus vibe”, but it is a beautiful building, grand, symmetrical and the grounds “look lovely”.

5. Angola. Again, if you like domes, symmetry, red buildings and gardens, and Allan and I do, this is another perfect parliament.

6. United States of America. I didn’t include the Palace of Westminster on grounds of familiarity and I work in it, but the Capitol is so good that overexposure cannot bleach out its greatness.

7. India. Huge circular building – the circumference is a third of a mile – designed by Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker, built in the 1920s, with three semicircular chambers and a dome inside.

8. Canada. Ridiculous Disney castle design. I love it.

9. Seychelles. Allan calls it a “beach resort parliament building”, which is a compliment: I like the open veranda and balcony, and it does have solar panels.

10. Bhutan. As Allan says, the shallow gabled roofs may be standard in Bhutan, but they are pretty and also red – with small gold pagodas on top.

Next week: Unlikely things named after battles, starting with balaclava.

Coming soon: “You Haven’t Thought That Throughs”, after Flick Drummond the Tory former MP said Boris Johnson was “incredibly popular … like the Pied Piper”.

Your suggestions please, and ideas for future Top 10s, to me on Twitter, or by email to

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