The Hungarian National Museum is housed in an enormous neoclassical building from 1846. Its grand staircase is a popular meeting place for locals, and the benches in the gardens surrounding it are a pleasant spot to take a breather. For many, this museum symbolizes Hungarian independence. According to popular legend, it was on these steps on March 15, 1848, that the young poet Sándor Petőfi and other revolutionaries gathered to begin a revolt against the Habsburgs. Petőfi allegedly read the "12 Demands of the Hungarian Nation" and recited his "National Song" here. Though there is no proof that it actually happened on this spot, this is where the official memorial celebrations are held every March 15th. The museum itself tells the story of Hungary as a nation. Founded in 1802 thanks to the donation of Count Ferenc Szénchényi's personal collections, the museum holds too much to see in one visit (it has more than one million artifacts). The bulk of the collection is in the permanent exhibition, which traces the history of Hungary from the founding of the state to 1990. This is what to visit if you just have a few hours. It features furniture, textiles, weapons, documents, ceramics, and much more, all illustrating the migratory history of the early ethnic Hungarians from Siberia to Hungary's present borders. The military objects, mementos, and everyday objects from the Communist era until the fall of the Iron Curtain are fascinating. The pride of the museum (and the country) is the coronation mantle of St. Stephen (c. 975–1038), the king who introduced Christianity to Hungary. The crown itself is displayed in the Parliament. (It has had a colorful history, having been stored in the Pentagon after World War II and only being returned to Hungary in 1978.) In the garden there is a column which was taken from the Forum in Rome and given to Hungary as a gift from Mussolini.