Discovering Parliaments in the European Union
@ French National Assembly - September 2013

Come enter the Chambers

          COME ENTER THE CHAMBERS

Europe is rich in Parliaments, in their history, in their heritage and in their influence.

Celebrating the European Year of Citizens 2013, the French Assemblée nationale would like to take you to an unprecedented tour through Parliamentary Europe. Through their committees on European union affairs, national parliaments are actively involved in European integration.

From Tallinn to Lisbon, from Stockholm to Athens, from Brussels to Bucharest, open the doors and enter the Chambers. You will discover European democracy landmarks as you have never seen them ! 

Parliamentary assemblies are presented in alphabetical order of their names in their original language.

Assemblée nationale  

Paris - France

The Palais Bourbon colonnade
Opening of the 14th legislature of the French National Assembly, June 2012

The Palais Bourbon together with the hotel de Lassay - which is the official residence of the Speaker of the National Assembly - were built between 1722 and 1728 to a design by architect Giardini, who got his inspiration from the Grand Trianon.

The Palace was built for the Duchess of Bourbon - legitimized daughter of Louis XIV - and has been the seat of the Assembly since 1798, when the “Council of the Five Hundred” became the first Chamber holding session there.

Under the Napoleonic Empire, architect Bernard Poyet built a thirty-step pedimented portico of twelve columns: the colonnade soon became the very symbol of the National Assembly.

                      www.assemblee-nationale.fr

The Palais Bourbon Cour d'Honneur
Plenary hall of the French National Assembly  
The National Assembly library
Palais Bourbon, 'round midnight

Assembleia da Republica 

Lisbon - Portugal

Palace of São Bento – the façade of the Assembly of the Republic of Portugal
Formal opening of the 12th legislature - 21 June 2011
Plenary hall of the Assembly ot the Republic of Portugal
The lobby

The Assembleia da Republica is the unicameral parliament of Portugal.

It sits currently in the Palace of Sao Bento - in which building work started in 1598 and lasted 340 years - til 1938.

Designed by architect Afonso Àlvares, the Palace of Sao Bento was originally a Benedictine monastery; its ownership was transferred to the Portuguese State upon dissolution of religious orders.

The palace became the seat of the Portuguese parliament in 1834 under the liberal regime. It was declared a national monument in 2002.  

                          www.parlamento.pt 

 

The former Senate plenary hall

Bundesrat 

Berlin - Germany 

German Bundesrat plenary
Preussisches Herrenhaus – the façade of the German Bundesrat

 The Bundesrat is the German parliament upper chamber; it is also known as the Federal Council.

The three-winged building was designed in 1904 under the supervision of architect Friedrich Schulze-Kolbitz as the upper chamber of the Prussian parliament. It was partially destroyed during world war two.

In between the end of world war two and German reunification, it was used by various GDR institutions. Major renovation was undertaken in 1997 by architectural firm Schweger & Partner, so that the Bundesrat may convenes its sessions there - which is the case since August 2000.

                            www.bundesrat.de

Plenary hall of the German Bundesrat

Bundesrat 

Vienna - Austria

Nationalrat and Bundesrat – National Council and Federal Council of Austria

The Bundesrat is the federal chamber of the Austrian Parliament. It is known as the Federal Council The Federal Council is the chamber which represents the interests of the nine Federal Provinces (Länder) in the legislative process.

The Austrian Parliamen was built between 1874 and 1883  designed by the Danish-born architect Theophil Hansen, who got his inspiration from Greek architecture.

In Austria the construction of a building for the Reichsrat, the Council of the Realm, had been debated since the end of the Revolution of 1848, but the constitutional preconditions were only created with the “October Diploma” of 1860 and the February Patent" of 1861. The Parliament building was the home of the House of Deputies (Abgeordentenhaus) and the House of Lords (Herrenhaus). After the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire the Parliament building became the home of the National Council (Nationalrat) and of the Federal Council (Bundesrat).  

The Parliament building was largely destroyed in the Second World War, but rebuildt and refurbished.

      www.parlament.gv.at

Austrian Bundesrat plenary
The Austrian  Parliamentary Library serves both chambers

Bundestag

Berlin - Germany

 The façade of the Bundestag
Bundestag plenary
Bas-relief on the Bundestag façade 

On June 20th 1991, the Bundestag passed a bill to transfer to Berlin both parliament and government. The Council of Elders decided that the former Reichstag building, dating from the late 19th century, would be the seat of parliament.

Following various international architectural competitions, a new parliamentary district was created, with the transformed former Reichstag building - and its glass dome accessible to visitors - becoming its very symbol.

British architect Sir Norman Foster managed to retain the historic facade of the former Reichstag while creating spaces for a modern and open parliament. 

                           www.bundestag.de 

The Bundestag Dome

Camera dei Deputati 

Rome - Italy

Montecitorio Palace
 Italian Chamber of deputies plenary

 The Italian Camera dei deputati sits in Montecitorio palace, which was built in the 17th century by Gian lorenzo Bernini for Pope Gregory XV's nephew, young Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi.

With the death of the Pope in 1655, work stopped and was not restarted until 30 years later when Pope Innocent XII decided to install the Apostolic Curia (papal court) there.

After the unification of Italy and the annexation of the Papal States in 1870, the transfer of the capital to Rome imposed to choose seats tailored to the needs of the institutions of the Kingdom.

Montecitorio was attributed to the Chamber of Deputies and renovation work was undertaken speedily to adapt the old palace to its new parliamentary requirements.

The inauguration took place in July 1871, but the new chamber soon proved itself inadequate. In 1900 the Questors of the Chamber decided to undertake work. Until 1918, the assembly thus had to meet in a small temporary hall.

             www.camera.it

 

Plenary hall of the Italian Chamber of deputies
Stained glass and iron ceiling above the plenary hall of the Italian Chamber of deputies

Camera Deputatilor 

Bucharest - Romania

Palace of the Parliament

 The Camera Deputatilor is the lower chamber of the Romanian parliament. It is located in the emblematic building of the Palace of Parliament, in the heart of the historic center of Bucharest.

With its 365 000 sqm, and according to the administrative buildings section in the Guinness book of records, it is the second largest administrative building and the third largest one in volume in the world.

Its dimensions are spectacular: 84 m high, 275 m long and 235 m wide.

Construction began on June 25th 1984. Initially named “the House of the Republic”, it became “The People's House” before acquiring its present name of “Palace of the Parliament”.

600 architects and no less than 20 000 workers worked on the site day and night.

The palace combines in an eclectic fashion elements of traditional Romanian architecture (where Brancovenesc style predominates), of Romanian popular ornamental art (such as the rosette, symbol of the sun or typical wooden sculptures), as well as Renaissance, Baroque and Germanic influences.

The architectural ensemble uses impressive amounts of marble, steel, concrete as well as many types of wood. Materials of all the provinces of Romania were used so that the entire country has contributed to the construction and decoration of its halls.

The building - which is divided into 21 parts - alternates monumental spaces, auditoriums, generously proportioned halls and richly ornate lobbies.

Since 1989, the building has become the symbol of Romanian democracy. It houses the Chamber of Deputies since 1996 and the Senate since 2004, as well as the Constitutional court and the Legislative Council.

                    www.cdep.ro

 Romanian Chamber of deputies plenary
 Committee room
Cupola of the plenary hall

Chambre des Députés 

Luxembourg - Grand Duchy of Luxembourg

Main entrance of the Chamber of deputies
Luxembourg Chamber of deputies plenary 
 Plenary hall of the Luxembourg Chamber of deputies

 The Chambre des Députés is the unicameral parliament of Luxembourg.

After independence in 1839, the Assembly of States, which later was renamed Chamber of Deputies used to sit in Government Hall, the current Grand Ducal Palace. Later, as Government Hall became the residence of the Grand Duke, Parliament used to sit in the City Hall of Luxembourg city.

In 1858, Wirtgen House, Baustert House, Hernandez House and Heynen House, located on the Krautmaart, were demolished to give way to building a new Chamber of Deputies. It was built to the design of engineer Antoine Hartmann. It is detached from Government Hall; 4 facades are examples of the “historicist style”, together with Gothic, Renaissance and classical elements.

The current building - called Hall of the Chamber - was built between 1858 and 1860. The Chamber of Deputies moved in in October 1860.

In 1881, it was enlarged and transformed and more spacious galleries were created. 

More recently - in the 1980s and 1990s, the Hall of the Chamber has been enlarged and renovated.

                          www.chd.lu

 Hall of the Luxembourg Chamber of deputies 

Chambre des Représentants

Brussels - Belgium

Aerial view of the Palace of the Nation - Belgian Federal Parliament 
 Palace of the Nation - Belgian Federal Parliament
 House of the representatives of Belgium plenary
 Plenary hall of the House of Representatives of Belgium
 Speakers' portrait gallery

The House of Representatives of Belgium, also known as “La Chambre” is one of the two Chambers of the Belgian federal parliament.

Since 1831 the Chambre sits in the Palace of the Nation, a building of neo-classical style built between 1778 and 1783 at the time of the Austrian Netherlands to a design by architect Barnabé Guimard.

The building first housed the States General of the Netherlands before becoming in 1831, after the Belgian independence, the seat of the Chamber of Representatives.

The Palace of the Nation building is itself the result of the integration of the Palace of the Chancellery with the palace of the Court of Auditors.

In 1883, the building was destroyed by fire, and it took three years to architect Henri Beyaert to rebuild it.

                          www.lachambre.be

Congreso de los Diputados 

Madrid - Spain

Palace of the Congress of deputies

 The Congreso de los diputados is the lower chamber of the Cortes generales, which is the parliament of the Kingdom of Spain, established by the 1978 Constitution.

It is located in a nineteenth-century palace built by architect Narciso Pascual Colomer, and inaugurated in 1850. This building was originally a convent before becoming the seat of the assembly.

              www.congreso.es

 Congress of deputies plenary
Plenary hall of the Congress of Deputies
 The Congress of deputies library

Dáil Éireann 

Dublin - Ireland

 Leinster House - Oireachtas (Parliament) 

Dáil Éireann is the lower Chamber of the Irish parliament that sits in “Leinster House” in Dublin.

The building, built between 1745 and 1748, was originally the residence of the Duke of Leinster, and the headquarters of the Royal Dublin Society. It was not until 1922 - the year of the creation of the Irish Free State- that it became the seat of both chambers of the Irish parliament.

By metonymy, the term “Leinster House” also refers to Irish political life.

      www.oireachtas.ie

 Dáil Éireann plenary
Plenary hall of Dáil Éireann

Drzavni Svet   

Ljubljana - Slovenia

 Slovenian Parliament building

Drzavni Zbor 

Ljubljana - Slovenia

Drzavni zbor (National Assembly) is located in the postmodern parliament building which construction began in 1954 to a design by architect Vinko Glanz and was completed in 1959. It hosted the first session of the People's Assembly of the People's Republic of Slovenia on 19 February 1959.

Using national materials was the guideline for the building. Thus, the entire building was tiled with karst marble, while areas under the windows were filled with green granite. The main façade accent is on portal. Academy sculptors Putrih and Kalin mounted the symbolic sculptural compositions on five pillars, suporting the portal.

Indoors, local materials such as marble, stone and wood have been exclusively used. Mosaics and paintings that adorn the interior of the Parliament are the work of Slovenian artists. The area in front of the Large Hall contains a mural by academy painter Slavko Pengov depicting the history of the Slovenian nation from the Slav colonisation to the start of post-war renewal.

To meet the requirements of parliamentary work, the building has been extensively renovated. In 1991, parlament building was joined with the adjacent building, constructed in 1879 for the Kranjska hranilnica saving bank, which now houses offices for deputy groups and working bodies. The Large Hall, where the National Assembly meets, was renovated at the end of year 2000.

The parliament building houses Drzavni zbor (National Assembly) and Drzavni svet (National Council), both established in 1992 make up the bicameral Parliament of Slovenia. 

                             www.dz-rs.si

                             www.ds-rs.si

 Drzavni Zbor (Nationa Assembly) plenary
Drzavni Sveet (National Council) plenary
Plenary hall of Drzavni Zbor
Bas-relief on the façade of the Slovenian Parliament

EDUSKUNTA 

Helsinki - Finland

Finnish Parliament building reflecting in water
 Eduskunta plenary
 Plenary hall of the Eduskunta

The Eduskunta is the unicameral parliament of Finland.

The construction of the Palace of the National Diet, designed by Johan Sigfrid Siren, began in 1926 and ended in 1931.

The parliament building is part of the national landscape and identity of Finland since 1931. It is the prime symbol of Finnish independence and democracy.

                        www.parliament.fi

The cafeteria of the Finnish parliament

Eerste Kamer der Staten-Generaal

The Hague - The Netherlands

Eerste Kamer (Senate) is the upper Chamber of the Dutch parliament. Both chambers of Parliament sit in the Binnenhof, a set of buildings in the center of The Hague, which also houses the office of the Minister-President.

The oldest remains of Binnenhof are said to date back to 1230, at the time of Count of Holland Florent IV.

The Senate, established in 1815, sits there since 1849. 

                        www.eerstekamer.nl

Dutch Senate building viewed from the Hofvijver
 Eerste Kamer den Staten generaal plenary
Plenary hall of Eerste Kamer des Staten-Generaal

Folketing

Copenhagen - Denmark

Christiansborg Palace, building of the Folketing
Folketinget plenary
Plenary hall of the Folketing

The Folketing is the unicameral parliament of Denmark that sits since 1849 in Christiansborg Palace, in the heart of Copenhagen.

Christiansborg Palace was originally built for the King of Denmark between 1733 and 1740.

Over time, the Palace has undergone very significant changes and the current location of the Folketing is in what is commonly called the “third Christiansborg” whose construction was initiated by Frederick VIII in 1907 in a neo-baroque style.

The Folketing held its first meeting there on May 28th, 1918.

           www.ft.dk

Christiansborg Palace - View from the river

House of Commons

London - United Kingdom

Palace of Westminster
House of Commons plenary
The Chapel of St Mary undercroft (The Crypt)

The House of Commons is the lower Chamber of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It is located within the Palace of Westminster.

The building originally served as a royal residence, but no English or British monarch has lived there since the sixteenth century.

If the older section of the palace - Westminster Hall - dates back to 1097, most of the building dates from the nineteenth century when the building was rebuilt after the devastating fire that ravaged it on October 16th, 1834.

The Palace of Westminster was indeed rebuilt in 1840 and British parliamentarians have sat there ever since that date.

The hall where the Commons sit is located in the northern part of the building. The benches, as well as other furniture throughout the part of the building used by the House of Commons are green. We find this color code in other parliaments, in Commonwealth countries but also elsewhere, as in Belgium.

In 1642, Charles I wanted to seize five members of Parliament who were accused of high treason. When he asked William Lenthall – then Speaker of the House of Commons – whether he would have information on these members, Lenthall uttered a now famous reply : “May it please your Majesty, I have neither eyes to see nor tongue to speak in this place but as the House is pleased to direct me, whose servant I am here”.

Since this episode, tradition has it, no British Sovereign enters the House of Commons.

                           www.parliament.uk 

  

 

House of Commons  plenary hall
Palace of Westminster, viewed from above

House of Lords

London - United Kingdom

The Prince's Chamber

Like the House of Commons, the House of Lords - the upper Chamber of the British parliament - is located within the Palace of Westminster.

The hall where the Lords sit is located in the southern part of the palace. The benches as well as other furniture throughout the part of the building used by the Lords are red. Stained glass windows and six allegorical frescoes representing religion, chivalry and law decorate the upper tier of the hall..

Members sit on three sides of the room. Benches located to the right of Woolsack – as is the name given to the Lord Chancellor bench - form the Spiritual Side and those left of it form  the Temporal Side.

Where the Lords sit follow very specific rules:

The Lords Spiritual (archbishops and bishops of the Church of England) are placed on the spiritual side.

The Lords Temporal (members of the nobility) are seated according to their political affiliation, those of the majority by the spiritual side, while the opposition sits by the temporal side. Peers without political affiliation sit on the benches across the hall opposite the Woolsack. They are therefore nicknamed crossbenchers.

       www.parliament.uk    

Victoria Tower, Palace of Westminster
The Royal Gallery
House of Lords plenary
The façade of the Croatian Parliament building

Hrvatski Sabor

Zagreb - Croatia

Hrvatski Sabor is the unicameral Parliament of the Republic of Croatia. Built from 1731 to 1737 the Hrvatski Sabor building is house to the Croatian Parliament since May 6, 1737.

It appears to be -with the Icelandic Althing, built around 930- among the oldest parliaments in Europe.

                  www.sabor.hr

Croatian parliament plenary
Plenary hall of the Croatian parliament
Busts of notable Croats from the 19th and 20th century who, as members of parliament, made a plea for the independence of Croatia : Josip Jelacic, Ivan Mazuranic and Josip Juraj Strossmaer (from left to right)

Il-Kamra Tad-Deputati

Valletta - Malta

The façade of the Parliament of Malta
Malta Chamber of deputies plenary
Plenary hall of the Parliament of Malta
Tapesry chamber
Entrance of the maltese parliament

The House of Representatives of Malta (Il-Kamra Tad-Deputati) forms the unicameral parliament of the Republic of Malta. The historic site is located in the Grand Master's Palace in Valletta, which was built from 1572 that was commissioned by Jean l’Evesque de la Cassiere after the Great Siege of Malta by the Ottomans.

The palace also serves as home to the President of the Republic of Malta

A new building designed by architect Renzo Piano and located on Freedom Square, is nearing completion.

                            www.parlament.mt

 

 

Národná rada 

Bratislava - Slovak Republic

The façade of the building of the National Council of the Slovak Republic

The Národná rada (National Council) is the unicameral parliament of the Republic of Slovakia.

It sits in a new building built in Bratislava between 1986 and 1994.

Located close to the castle on the heights of Bratislava, the building overlooks the Danube.

                   www.nrsr.sk

National Council of the Slovak Republic plenary
Plenary hall of the National Council of the Slovak Republic

Narodno Sabranie

Sofia - Bulgaria

General view of the Bulgarian National Assembly

Narodno Sabranie is the name of the unicameral Parliament of Bulgaria. Built by architect Konstantin Yovanovic between 1884 and 1886, the building is neo-Renaissance style. The interior has been renovated many times, but its exterior has been preserved.

                        www.parliament.bg

 

Bulgarian National Assembly plenary
The façade of the National Assembly of Bulgaria
Interior of the National Assembly of Bulgaria

Nationalrat

Vienna - Austria

Nationalrat and Bundesrat – National Council and Federal Council of Austria
Plenary hall of the former House of deputies of Austria
Plenary hall of the National Council  
The Columned hall

The National Council (Nationalrat) is the upper Chamber of Austrian Parliament.

The National Council has 183 Members elected for a legislative period of five years. Jointly with the Federal Council it represents the legislative power at federal level. The National Council is responsible for proposing, deliberating and passing laws. As an institution directly elected by the people it has important control functions too.

The Austrian Parliament was built between 1874 and 1883  designed by the Danish-born architect Theophil Hansen, who got his inspiration from Greek architecture.

In Austria the construction of a building for the Reichsrat, the Council of the Realm, had been debated since the end of the Revolution of 1848, but the constitutional preconditions were only created with the “October Diploma” of 1860 and the February Patent" of 1861. The Parliament building was the home of the House of Deputies (Abgeordentenhaus) and the House of Lords (Herrenhaus). After the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire the Parliament building became the home of the National Council (Nationalrat) and of the Federal Council (Bundesrat).

The Parliament building was largely destroyed in the Second World War, but rebuildt and refurbished. The plenary hall of the Nationalrat was rebuildt in a modern style and completed in 1956 designed by the architects Max Fellerer and Eugen Wörle. The steel heraldic Austrian eagle placed on the wall behind the Speaker’s seat was designed by the sculpturer Rudolf Hoflehner.

                                        www.parlament.gv.at

Orszaggyules

Budapest - Hungary

The Hungarian National Assembly Grand stairway
The Palace of the Nation (Országház)

Orszaggyules (Hungarian Diet or National Assembly of Hungary) is the unicameral parliament of Hungary.

It sits in a large building situated on the eastern bank of the Danube in Budapest. Its construction began in 1895 and the building was inaugurated in 1896 to mark the millennium of Hungary.

The building, whose volumes are organized around the 96 meters high central dome has a neo-Gothic façade but a floor plan that follows the baroque conventions. It is to date the largest building in Hungary and one of the two highest in Budapest with St. Stephen's Basilica in Pest.

As the Palace of Westminster in London, the Hungarian parliament has a symmetrical facade of neo-gothic style. Its dimensions are impressive: 268 meters long, 123 meters wide, 10 courtyards, 13 elevators, 27 gates, 29 staircases and no less than 691 rooms.

The façade is adorned with statues of former kings of Hungary and of Transylvania and of military heroes of the country.

                 www.parlament.hu

Hungarian National Assembly plenary
Plenary hall of the former upper house of the Hungarian parliament
Dome Hall - Hungarian National Assembly

European Parliament

Strasbourg - European Union

The Louise Weiss building in Strasbourg, seat of the European Parliament, viewed from the river
Seat of the European Parliament in Strasbourg
European Parliament plenary
Plenary hall of the European Parliament (Strasbourg)

Located in Strasbourg, in the heart of the Orangerie, the building of the European Parliament, also known as Louise Weiss building was completed in 1998. His chamber, with a capacity of 750 seats, is the largest in Europe; it hosts the monthly plenary sessions of European Parliament.

The European Parliament also has buildings in Brussels for meetings that take place outside the plenary sessions.

The seat of the European Parliament in Strasbourg has been designed by Architecture Studio Europe. It is composed of an arc, of a dome and of a 60 meter high tower. All three elements encircle an elliptical agora that symbolizes democracy.

The top of the building voluntarily seems unfinished, as if to suggest an ongoing European project.

As for the glass front of 13,000 sqm, it stands as a symbol of the democratic transparency of the European Union.

          www.europarl.europa.eu

 

 

European Parliament building in Brussels
European Parliament in Brussels plenary
Plenary hall of the European Parliament in Brussels

Poslanecká sněmovna

Prague -  Czech Republic

The façade of the Czech Chamber of Deputies
Plenary hall of the Czech Chamber of deputies

The Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic is the lower Chamber of the Czech parliament. Between the two world wars it used to sit in the Rudolfinum ; it now sits in the Auersperg Palace in Prague.

The Auersperg Palace was built in the late 18th century and connects several old buildings, which dates back to medieval times. Under the basement floor, archaeological works have revealed the remains of a medieval trade store and of a tomb from the cemetery near the Romanesque church of Saint Ondřej now destroyed.

The palace belonged to the aristocratic family of Clary-Aldringens before being bought by Prince Karel Vilém Auersperg in the 19th century.

                                www.psp.cz

The parliamentary library - Czech Chamber of deputies

Riigikogu

Tallinn - Estonia

Plenary hall of the Riigikogu

The National Assembly of Estonia (Riigikogu) is the unicameral parliament of the Republic of Estonia.

It sits in a building built between 1920 and 1922 by architects Eugen Habermann and Herbert Johanson on the site of a medieval monastery.

The Riigikogu has held its first meeting on September 12th, 1922.

                              www.riigikogu.ee

The façade of the Riigikogu building
Riigikogu plenary

Riksdag

Stockholm - Sweden

The Grand Stairway in the East wing of the Riksdag
The East and West wings of the Riksdag and the bridge Riksbron, viewed from Strömgatan
Riksdag plenary
Plenary hall of the Riksdag
The Riksdag building in the winter: the façade of the East wing. Both Swedish flag and European flags are flown upmast

The Riksdag (Royal Diet) is the unicameral parliament of the Kingdom of Sweden.

Built to a design of architect Aron Johansson, the original building was built between 1895 and 1905 on Helgeandsholmen Island in the historic center of Stockholm.

The headquarters of the Swedish parliament is composed of two separate buildings. Initially, only the building located east of Riksgatan was used by Parliament, while the building west of Riksgatan was the headquarters of the Swedish central bank. When, in 1971, Sweden abandoned bicameralism, the central bank building got refurbished to house the new chamber.

Over the last twenty years, the Riksdag has expanded to meet the needs of a modern Parliament by acquiring additional buildings in the old town.  

                             www.riksdagen.se

The Riksdag library

Saeima

Riga - Latvia

Winter wiew of the Saeima buidling
Saeima plenary
Plenary hall of the Saeima

The Saeima is the unicameral parliament of Latvia. Its building took place between 1863 and 1867, for the Order of the Knights of Vidzeme to a design by two architects, Robert Pflug and Jānis Baumanis.

Its architecture is a mix of Florentine style and Louis XVI style.

The building has had various uses in history : it was the former seat of the Supreme Soviet of the Socialist Republic of Latvia. The Saeima held its first parliamentary session on Nov. 7th, 1922.

                             www.saeima.lv

The Saeima plenary hall ceiling

Seanad Éireann

Dublin - Republic of Ireland

Irish Senate Plenary hall

Seanad Éireann is the upper Chamber of the Irish parliament that sits in “Leinster House” in Dublin.

The building, built between 1745 and 1748, was originally the residence of the Duke of Leinster, and the headquarters of the Royal Dublin Society. It was not until 1922 - the year of the creation of the Irish Free State -that it became the seat of both chambers of the Irish parliament.

By metonymy, the term “Leinster House” also refers to Irish political life.

      www.oireachtas.ie 

Leinster House

Seimas

Vilnius - Lithuania

The Seimas building

Seimas is the unicameral parliament of the Republic of Lithuania.

It consists of three buildings ; the oldest, built in 1980, was dedicated to the Supreme Soviet.

In 1990, the Reform Movement of Lithuania won the first free parliamentary elections and Lithuanian parliamentary history interrupted in 1940 by the Soviet occupation, resumed. In 2007, major renovations were undertaken with the construction of a new chamber.

                                 www.lrs.lt

Main entrance of the Seimas
Lithuanian parliament plenary - May, 7th 2013
The new plenary hall built in 2007
Hall of the Act of march 11th  - Former plenary hall until 2007

Sejm

Warsaw - Poland

Sejm plenary

 The Sejm is the Diet of Poland, which is the lower Chamber of the Polish parliament. Until the 19th century, the Diet was the name that brought together both MPs and senators. But since the Second Republic (1918-1939), the term refers only to the lower Chamber, the other being called the Polish Senate.

The main building was built in 1928.

In 1946, the Senate was abolished by referendum until reinstated in 1989.

         www.sejm.gov.pl

 

 

General view of the Sejm building
Plenary hall of the Sejm

Senado 

Madrid - Spain

Pasos perdidos Hall

The Palace of the Senate is the building of the Spanish Senate. Built in the late sixteenth century by architect Francisco de Montalbán, it was first used as an Augustinian convent, at the request of Doña María de Aragón.

The first parliamentary use of the building dates back to 1814 when it received the Assembly of Cortes.

The Senate held its first meeting there on November 17th, 1835.

Extensive modernization work took place in the late 80s.

                             www.senado.es

 

 

The spanish Senate Library
The spanish Senate building
Former plenary hall of the spanish Senate
Spanish Senate plenary
Plenary hall of the Spanish Senate

Sénat

Brussels - Belgium

The façade of the Belgian Senate

The Belgian Senate is the upper Chamber of the Federal Parliament of Belgium. Like the Chambre des Députés, it sits in the Palace of the Nation, a building of neo-classical style built between 1778 and 1783 at the time of the Austrian Netherlands to a design by architect Barnabé Guimard.

The building first housed the States General of the Netherlands before becoming in 1831, after the Belgian independence, the seat of the Chambre des Députés.

The Palace of the Nation building is itself the result of the integration of the Palace of the Chancellery with the palace of the Court of Auditors.

In 1883, the building was destroyed by fire, and it took three years to architect Henri Beyaert to rebuild it.

The main stairway –decorated in red- leads to the Senate Hall and to senatorial meeting rooms. The coats of arms of all Belgian provinces decorate the dome of the chamber, which was built in 1849.

The monumental paintings that adorn the chamber depict historical heroes symbolizing the greatness and strength of the Belgian people.

                               www.senat.be

 

Plenary hall of the Belgian Senate
Belgian Senate plenary

Sénat

Paris - France

The Grand stairway and the Republican Guard
The Luxembourg Palace
French Senate plenary
Plenary hall of the french Senate

The Luxembourg Palace is the seat of the French Senate. Its building was commissioned in 1615 by Marie de’ Medici to architect Salomon de la Brosse and was completed in 1631. The Queen moved in the right wing of the palace in 1625, the left wing being reserved for his son, the future King Louis XIII.

Later, Louis XVI gave the palace to his brother, the Count of Provence, - who later became king Louis XVIII. The French Revolution expelled him out of the Palace.

The palace then was used as prison, before being assigned in 1795 to the Directoire and, by the end of 1799, to the “conservative Senate.” From that date on, the Palais du Luxembourg acquired its parliamentary vocation that it never lost but for some short periods.

Over time, the building has undergone architectural changes that have gradually adapted it to the needs of a modern political assembly while scrupulously respecting the treasure of Parisian architecture, and its exceptional artistic heritage.

                            www.senat.fr

The Annex of the Library - French Senate
The "Petit Luxembourg" Chapel

Senat

Warsaw - Poland

General view of the Polish Senate building

The Senate is the upper Chamber of the Polish parliament. It was originally the Chamber of Councillors of Polish kings.

The current building dates from 1952 but has undergone major improvements under the direction of architect Andrzej Barbara Kaliszewski and Bohdan Napieralski.

Senators moved there in 1991. Indeed, after the first free elections in June 1989, the newly elected Polish senators had no place to meet. They settled down in one wing of the National Assembly (Sejm) ; as there was no hall large enough to host all the senators, the Senate met alternately with the National Assembly in the meeting hall of the latter and then for over a year and a half, they sat in the Hall of Columns.

       www.senat.gov.pl   

Polish Senate plenary
Plenary hall of the polish Senate

Senat

Prague - Czech Republic

Wallenstein Palace - Sala terrena
Wallenstein Palace - Main hall

The Senate is the upper chamber of the Czech Parliament ; since 1992, it sits in the Wallenstein Palace, in the heart of Malá Strana.

The seventeenth-century Baroque palace was built for Albrecht von Wallenstein, general of the imperial armies in 1623, who was one of the most powerful and richest noblemen in Bohemia in the troubled years following the Thirty Years’ war.

The dimensions of the palace are impressive : it is 340 meters long and 170 meter wide at its widest point.

In 2000, the European Union awarded the Czech Senate an Europa Nostra award for its exemplary restoration of the building.

                              www.senat.cz 

 

Czech Senate plenary
Plenary hall of the Czech Senate

Senato della Repubblica

Rome - Italy

Italy triumphant, centrepiece of the ceiling frescoes in the Maccari room
Plenary hall of the italian Senate

The Senate of the Republic is the upper Chamber of the Italian parliament. It sits in the Palazzo Madama, which was completed in 1505.

The building remained a property of the Medici and of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany until the eighteenth century. In 1755, Palazzo Madama was bought by Pope Benedict XIV and became a government building of the Papal States.

But in September 1870, Italian troops invaded Rome ; with the end of the Papal States. Rome became the capital of Italy, and in February 1871, the Palazzo Madama was chosen as the seat of the Senate of the Italian Kingdom.

          www.senato.it

Palazzo Madama - Italian Senate building 

Senatul

Bucharest - Romania

Plenary hall of the romanian Senate
The Palace of the Parliament
Plenary hall lobby of the Romanian Senate

The Romanian Senate is the upper Chamber of the bicameral Parliament of Romania.

It is located since 2004 in the emblematic building of the Palace of Parliament, where is also the Chamber of Deputies.

With its 365,000 sqm, and according to the administrative buildings section in the Guinness book of records, it is the second largest administrative building and the third largest one in volume in the world

Its dimensions are spectacular: 84 m high, 275 m long and 235 m wide.

Construction began on June 25th 1984. Initially named “the House of the Republic,” it became “The People's House” before acquiring its present name of “Palace of the Parliament.”

600 architects and no less than 20 000 workers worked on the site day and night.

The palace combines in an eclectic fashion elements of traditional Romanian architecture (where Brâncovenesc style predominates), of Romanian popular ornamental art (such as the rosette, symbol of the sun or typical wooden sculptures), as well as Renaissance, Baroque and Germanic influences.

The architectural ensemble uses impressive amounts of marble, steel, concrete as well as many types of wood. Materials of all the provinces of Romania were used so that the entire country has contributed to the construction and decoration of its halls.

The building –which is divided into 21 parts, alternates monumental spaces - auditoriums, generously proportioned halls and richly ornate lobbies.

Since 1989, the building has become the symbol of Romanian democracy. It houses the Chamber of Deputies since 1996 and the Senate since 2004, as well as the Constitutional Court and the Legislative Council.

                              www.senat.ro

 

The Dome of the Plenary hall of the Romanian Senate

Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal

The Hague - The Netherlands

Main entrance of the House of Representatives of the dutch Parliament
Oude Zaal - Former plenary hall until 1992
Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal plenary

Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal is the lower Chamber of the parliament of the Netherlands. Its current building was built in 1992.

Its architect Pi de Bruijn got its inspiration from the Dutch landscape for the lay out of the Hall.

MPs’ seats are tulip-shaped and the carpet is as green as a Dutch field, while the ceiling was painted in a blue-grey color.

                   www.tweedekamer.nl

 

Plenary hall of the Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal  

Vouli Antiprosopon

Nicosia - Cyprus

The building of the House of representatives of Cyprus
House of representatives of Cyprus plenary
Plenary hall of the House of Representatives of Cyprus
Wall mosaic - House of representatives of Cyprus

Vouli Antiprosopon is the Chamber of Representatives of the unicameral parliament of Cyprus. 

Its building, completed in 1955, has become the Parliamentary hall since the independence of Cyprus on 16 August 1960.

             www.parliament.cy 

Vouli Ton Ellinon

Athens - Greece

The hellenic Parliament buidling
Hellenic parliament plenary

Vouli Ton Ellinon is the unicameral Parliament of Greece.

The construction of the building, designed by the German architect Friedrich von Gärtner, began in 1836 ; at the time it was meant to become a royal residence.

Decades later, in 1930, architect Andreas Kriezis converted the building – which was largely destroyed by a fire in 1909 - to make it the seat of parliament that moved in in 1934.

The interior of the old palace was almost completely demolished to meet the functional needs of a parliament. With the exception of the main loadbearing walls, only the grand staircase, the hall of trophies and the Aides’ room have been preserved.

What remains today of the old palace is, essentially, its facade.

                        www.hellenicparliament.gr

  

Plenary hall of the hellenic parliament
Credits: Story

  — Nos remerciements s'adressent en premier lieu à l'ensemble des assemblées parlementaires de l'Union européenne pour leur contribution à la réalisation de cette exposition collective.
  — Merci également au Centre européen de recherche et de documentation parlementaires (CERDP) qui a permis la collecte des photographies et des informations utilisées pour l'exposition.
  — Merci au service de la Communication et de l'information multimédia de l'Assemblée nationale française pour la conception et la réalisation de cette exposition. Merci également au service des affaires européennes pour son précieux concours.
  — First and foremost, we would
like to thank all parliamentary assemblies in the European Union, whose efforts
contributed to finalizing this collective virtual exhibit.

  — We also would like to thank the European Centre for Parliamentary Research and Documentation (ECPRD) which gathered all the material (pictures and information) used here. Finally, we would like to thank the Communication and multimedia information department of the French Assemblée nationale for creating and designing this virtual exhibit. We would also like to thank the department of European affairs for its invaluable assistance.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions (listed below) who have supplied the content.
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