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The Palace of Parliament - Bucharest, Romania

Updated on October 25, 2014

A Place to Visit: Second Building in the World After Pentagon

Located in the historical and geographical center of Bucharest - Romania and well-known as The People's House, The Romanian Palace of Parliament from Bucharest is, according to Guinness Book of World Records:

- the world's largest civilian administrative building

- the most expensive administrative building

- the heaviest building.

It is the second biggest administrative building in the world, after the Pentagon building, the famous headquarters of the United States Department of Defense.

Now, beside being the headquarter of the Romanian Parliament, it is a tourist attraction. Visitors are coming from all over the world to see it.

But it was build as a result of the ambition of a dictator - Nicolae Ceausescu - who imposed to the Romanian people a lot of sacrifices.

A Place To Visit

Bucharest: 2nd Largest Building in the World - Michael Palin's New Europe - BBC

People's House - Short view of probably the most visited place in Bucharest

How Big It Is?

A few figures

- 2.55 million cubic meters volume - the third building in the world after the rocket assembly hangar at Cape Canaveral and Quetzalcoatl pyramid in Mexico; it has a bigger volume than the pyramid of Cheope in Egypt

- area of 330.000 square meters - second in the world after Pentagon building

- has a rectangular shape: 270 m (890 ft) by 240 m (790 ft) and 86 m high (282 ft)

- 12 levels above the ground

- 8 underground levels measuring 92 m (302 ft): 4 levels currently available for the general public and another 4 levels in different stages of completion

- 1,100 rooms, 2 underground parking garages comprising 440 offices and 10 conference and meeting halls (three halls between 1,000 and 1,500 square meters each, two halls of over 2,000 square meters each, two meeting halls with a capacity of 1,200 seats and respectively 850 seats)

- the biggest conference hall, Union Hall (Sala Unirii) is 16 m height and has an area of 2200 square meters

- in Union Hall there is the biggest chandelier in the Palace which weights 3 tonnes and has 7000 lighting bulbs.

Exterior of The Palace

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Bucharest,

The Palace of The Parliament today

The Palace Today - Music: Gheorghe Zamfir

Planning and Building

Huge project unfolded over two political regims

People's House was built between 1984 and 1989 on Uranus Hill, after the plans of a Romanian group of 200 architects lead by a young architect, Anca Petrescu.

20.000 workers from all over the country joined forces in order to build the enormous building. They worked in three shifts, including weekends.

By the time of the Romanian Revolution (1989), when the communist regime was replaced with a democratic regime, only a few halls and the exterior of the building had been finished. Until 1997, when it became The Palace of Parliament, a big part of the building had been finished.

The building is almost entirely made of materials of Romanian origin: stone, wood and marble.

The interior decorations are also made in Romania, many of them designed specially for this project.

The structure combines elements and motifs from multiple sources, in an eclectic neoclassical architectural style.

Among materials used there are:

- one million cubic meters of marble from Transylvania (Ruschita)

- 3,500 tonnes of crystal - 480 chandeliers

- 1,409 ceiling lights and mirrors

- 700,000 tonnes of steel and bronze used for monumental doors and windows, chandeliers and capitals

- 900,000 m2 (9,700,000 sq ft) of wood, over 95% of which is domestic used for parquet and wainscoting (walnut, oak, sweet cherry, elm, sycamore maple)

- 200,000 m2 (2,200,000 sq ft) of woolen carpets of various sizes, the larger of which were woven on-site by machines installed into the building

- velvet and brocade curtains adorned with embroideries and passementeries in silver and gold.

The Architect of The Palace

After the big earthquake from 1977, when a lot of buildings were destroyed in the center of Bucharest, Nicolae Ceausescu started to think of the city reconstruction. Between 1978-1979 a national contest was held to choose the best idea. After 4 years, a young 28 years old architect, Anca Petrescu, was named chief architect of the most controversial project ever made in Romania.

They say she won the contest because she was the most obedient among all the participants.

Ceausescu was deeply involved in that project and he needed someone who listen to him, not someone with a bold personality.

History of The Palace

The idea of this project came after a visit of Nicolae Ceausescu in North Korea

It is the irony of fate that a building meant to be a symbol of a communist regime and inspired by similar North Korean buildings is now a symbol of a democratic regime.

The leader of the communist regime, president of the communist party, Nicolae Ceausescu, became in his last years a feared dictator.

The Palace intended to be on Ceausescu regime the seat of political and administrative power. Nicolae Ceausescu named it the House of the Republic (Casa Republicii), but many Romanians called it the People's House (Casa Poporului).

The idea to build the House of the Republic entered Ceausescu's mind after he visited his friend, Kim Ir Sen, the North Korean;s leader in 1971. His dream was to transform Bucharest in a political and administrative center similar to Phenian (North Korea's capital city).

Ceausescu laid the cornerstone on the 25th of June 1984 but the construction had began earlier, in 1983, without a final plan in place.

Ceausescu was involved in all the stages of the project. He supervised very close the architects' and constructors' work and took almost all the decisions, including those referring to the smallest details. He even didn't let the specialists do their work, using to give instructions to architects, constructors, and workers.

He took all the decisions after seeing the models. A lot of people worked to make models. Each visit of Ceausescu on the site was very carefully prepared and all the participants took notes during his speeches.

The construction of the Palace and of the surroundings avenues required to demolish a big part of Bucharest's historic district, including 19 Orthodox Christian churches, six Jewish synagogues, three Protestant churches, and 30,000 residences.

The site was unofficially opened in 1980 by demolishing over 7 square km of the old Bucharest center and the relocation of over 40.000 people who used to live in that area.

Eight churches were moved on a new place to be saved from demolishing.

25th of June 1984 - Ceausescu Laying the Cornerstone of the Palace - Ceausescu together with his wife, Elena

Bucharest Before People's House - Old center hit by demolition

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old Bucharest
old Bucharest
old Bucharest

Some Particular Things About the Palace - The most controversial building in Romania

This huge building is one of the most extravagant and expensive building projects planned in the last century.

Claiming superlative as the world's second-largest building by surface area (after the US Pentagon), the Palace of Parliament is one of Romania's biggest tourist attractions, despite all controversies.

It was built using mostly Romanian resources. The only exceptions are the doors of one of the halls, 'Nicolae Balcescu', which are made out of mahogany wood. They were given to Nicolae Ceausescu as a gift by the president of Zaire, Mobutu Sese Seko.

Underground tunnels were planned to link neighborhood avenues with the basement of the building . It is said that Ceausescu had ordered to build bunkers under the building where he intended to hide in case of a revolution.

Until December 1989 when Ceausescu regime ended, the cost of the building amounted to 1,75 billion US dollars. In 2006, the total amount spent for the building was already closed to 3 billions US dollars.

Interiors and Decorations of the Palace

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Union Hall (Sala Unirii) - The biggest hall in the palace

Union Hall (Sala Unirii) is the biggest conference hall. It's height measures 16 meters and it covers an area of 2200 square meters.

There we can find the biggest chandelier in the Palace which weights 3 tonnes and has 7000 lighting bulbs.

This hall meant to be Ceausescu's main ballroom where he intended to celebrate the major events of the communist state.

The hall has a huge sliding roof through which can pass an helicopter. The big carpet covering the floor weights 14 tonnes and had been woven right on the place with machines made specially for it.

The carpet's area is 1100 square meters and the decorative elements are the same with those on the walls.

Interior Images

People's House - More about the palace

Interior Images

Visiting Palace's Underground

Bucharest's undergrounds - dating from a few centuries back are surrounded by a lot of legends and frightening stories.

Special Events On the Constitution Square, just in Front of the Palace - 10th of July 2011: Big Concert of Jon Bon Jovi

The big square in front of the palace became a traditional place for big concerts.

Amazing concert of Jon Bon Jovi, the first held ever in Bucharest. Three hours of great music in front of the Palace of Parliament.

Jon Bon Jovi in Concert in Bucharest - 10th of July 2011

One of the greatest concerts held in the Parliament's square

Jon Bon Jovi's show in Bucharest

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Before the concertAwaiting for the concertJust before the beginningFirst songRichieGetting darkLiving on a prayer
Before the concert
Before the concert
Awaiting for the concert
Awaiting for the concert
Just before the beginning
Just before the beginning
First song
First song
Richie
Richie
Getting dark
Getting dark
Living on a prayer
Living on a prayer

Lady Gaga in Concert, Bucharest, 16th of August, 2012 - On the Constitution Square, in Front of the Palace

National Geographic Traveler: Romania
National Geographic Traveler: Romania

Interesting touristic destination in Romania.

Useful advice for travelers in Romnia.

 
Romania - Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture
Romania - Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture

More than sightseeing about Romania - culture, customs, people's characteristics

If you want to know more about Romania, this is the right lecture

 

Bucharest on eBay - It Would Never Happen Before December 1989!

Now is possible: we may buy various things about Bucharest and Romania on eBay. During Ceausescu's dictatorship time, Romania was a closed territory...

What Do You Think? - Does this palace worth the effort and sacrifice made by the people?

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    • PaulWinter profile image

      PaulWinter 5 years ago

      A really interesting lens. I have been to Bucharest twice back in the 1990s, but I've never visited the Palace of Parliament

    • nolinel lm profile image

      nolinel lm 5 years ago

      Great lens and a very interesting building. I would like to visit some day.

    • savateuse profile image

      savateuse 5 years ago

      Impressive building!

    • tvyps profile image

      Teri Villars 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Beautiful architecture. Squid Angel blessed.

    • cynthiannleighton profile image

      cynthiannleighton 5 years ago

      Hmm. Art does lift people up. Dear friends fled from there long ago. I suspect there's still a long road for this country. So having a tourist destination may be worth the effort if it helps heal by drawing visitors and connecting with the world one person at a time.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Last year in may, i spent my free-time in romania. People are too sad there, but they have a great country.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Last year in may, i spent my free-time in romania. People are too sad there, but they have a great country.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Amazing building. Terrific lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Very informative. Beautiful photos of the Palace.

    • jadehorseshoe profile image

      jadehorseshoe 5 years ago

      Super Lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      i was at that concert !!!!