While government buildings are designed for business, some countries opt to put on a show when it comes to their architecture styles. The designs reflect each country’s culture, which is apparent in the colors, shapes, textiles and materials used to construct each one. Here are the 10 most beautiful government buildings in the world.
Union Buildings, Pretoria, South Africa
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The Union Buildings are considered to be one of South Africa’s most exceptional pieces of architecture. Built in 1913 in the capital city of Pretoria, these buildings house the offices of the President of South Africa, according to South African History Online. The sprawling sandstone buildings were built on top of the hill Meintjieskop, making the Union Buildings a focal point of the town. Lined with elaborate gardens of indigenous plants, these buildings serve not only as the official seat of government in South Africa, but are also a venue for important events and protests.
The Palace of the Argentine National Congress, Buenos Aires, Argentina
The Palace of the Argentine National Congress is a neoclassical building located in Argentina’s capital city, Buenos Aires. Construction of this National Historic Landmark began in 1898 with the building making its debut in 1906, though it wasn’t completely finished until 1946, according to Travel Buenos Aires. However, it has been the home of Argentina’s congress since 1906. The white marble building is known for its 260-foot bronze dome that has been weathered to its current green color today. Visitors can take advantage of free guided tours of the expansive interior.
Parliament House, Canberra, Australia
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The home of the Parliament of Australia is located in Canberra, in Southeastern Australia. This building had a unique start — its design was chosen from an international competition of over 320 entries to build an open concept parliament building, according to Parliament of Australia. The goal was to make the design not only a functional government building but also a national symbol.
Throughout the building echoes of the Australian landscape can be seen, such as the muted pinks and greens of the marble interior and the red Christmas bush granite pavers on the Forecourt, mined locally in South Wales.
The Storting, Oslo, Norway
The Storting building is the home of Norway’s National Assembly, called the Storting. Located in Oslo, it has been the home of the Norwegian Parliament since 1866, according to Visit Norway. Swedish architect Emil Victor Langlet used eclecticism to design the building, taking aspects from prior architectural periods to create something new. The unique H-shaped floor plan has two semi-circles on its cross axis, creating a bold facade. Take a free guided tour of this yellow-brick parliament house on your next visit to Oslo.
House of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, Belgrade, Serbia
The House of the National Assembly of Serbia took over 30 years to be constructed and opened in 1936 in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. Much of the interior can be described as simple and dignified, with a combination of wood paneling and marble throughout the main halls. While it has many impressive architectural features, a notable stop on a tour is the salon of Prince Pavle, a luxurious diplomatic reception room with walls of ornate silk carpets and impressive woodwork on the ceiling.
Parliament Hill, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
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Parliament Hill is a collection of buildings in Ottawa, Ontario, the capital of Canada, that have been home to the Parliament of Canada since 1859. These Gothic revival buildings overlook the Ottawa River, offering picturesque views that make this location one of Canada’s most iconic sites. The grounds of Parliament Hill hold year-round events that are open to the public, such as changing of the guard, a holiday light display and fitness events such as yoga.
United States Capitol Building, Washington, D.C., United States
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The U.S. Capitol Building is home to Congress, the legislative branch of the federal government, in Washington, D.C., America’s capital city. This 19th-century neoclassical-style design was found during a national competition that was suggested by President George Washington to seek out the best plan for a congressional building, according to the National Park Service. Construction on the building began in 1793, was halted many times for wars, fires and political reasons, and was finally completed in 1960 after many renovations and additions. The Capitol building is located on the National Mall and can be visited year-round.
The Binnenhof, Hague, Netherlands
The Binnenhof is a collection of Gothic-style buildings in The Hague, a coastal city of the Western Netherlands. This location is a central point of politics in the Netherlands. It is the meeting place of the States General of the Netherlands, the Ministry of General Affairs and the office of the Prime Minister of the Netherlands. The Ridderzaal, Hall of Knights, is the most famous section of The Binnenhof and has been around since the 13th century when it was the castle of the Counts of Holland. Take a tour of the Hall of Knights and other buildings in the complex to learn more about the Dutch parliament.
Palace of Westminster, London, England
The Palace of Westminster has been the central location of over 900 years of British political history. Located in London, the capital of England, Westminster Hall is the oldest building on the Parliamentary Estate. However, the hall is often overshadowed by Big Ben, the famous clock tower and tourist hot spot also located on the estate. Today, the hall is home to the U.K. Parliament and is always open to visitors wanting to learn more about the country’s politics.
Hungarian Parliament Building, Budapest, Hungary
The Parliament of Budapest is a top tourist attraction in this capital city for a good reason. The Gothic and Renaissance revival-styles of the building give it an ornamental look straight out of a fairytale. The massive structure is the third largest parliament building in the world, with 691 rooms and over 12 miles of stairs, according to Visit Budapest. This magnificent building is located in Kossuth Square on the Danube River.