The Palace of the Parliament

The Palace of the Parliament (Romanian: Palatul Parlamentului) in Bucharest, Romania is a multi-purpose building containing both chambers of the Romanian Parliament. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the Palace is the world's largest civilian administrative building (The Pentagon is the largest overall), most expensive administrative building, and heaviest building.

The Palace was designed and nearly completed by the Ceauşescu regime as the seat of political and administrative power. Ceauşescu wanted to build in Bucharest the "Victory of Socialism Centre" (the Unirea Boulevard is the former Victory of Socialism Boulevard). Nicolae Ceauşescu named it also the House of the Republic (Casa Republicii), or the People's House (Casa Poporului). It was build for Presidency, Parliament and Government. Today it serves as the seat of the Romanian Deputies Chamber Parliament. The Palace also contains a massive array of miscellaneous conference halls, salons, etc. used for a wide variety of other purposes, the National Museum of Contemporary Art (MNAC) opened in 2004 inside the west wing of the Palace of the Parliament, and the Museum and Park of Totalitarianism and Socialist Realism, also opened in 2004, the headquarters of the Southeast European Cooperative Initiative (SECI), an organization focused on regional cooperation among governments against cross-border crime.

Construction began in 1983; the cornerstone was laid on 25 June 1984. At the time of Nicolae Ceauşescu's 1989 overthrow and execution, the building structure and design were complete. Subsequently, many of the furnishings were never installed, and the last three basement levels and a large clock tower (that would have displayed the official Romanian time) were never finished (most evident by the frequent large spaces throughout the palace). During the regime change, the new leaders of Romania referred to the building as the House of Ceauşescu, to highlight the excessive luxury in which Ceauşescu would have lived, in stark contrast to the squalor and poverty endured by many people living in the surrounding neighborhoods. Parts of the building (some of the west wing, some of the east wing, parts of the second floor, basement 3 and everything below) have yet to be completed.

The Palace measures 270 m by 240 m, 86 m high, and 92 m under ground. It has 1,100 rooms, 2 underground parking garages and is 12 stories tall, with four additional underground levels currently available and in use, with another four in different stages of completion. The structure combines elements and motifs from multiple sources, in an eclectic neoclassical architectural style. The building is constructed entirely of materials of Romanian origin. Estimates of the materials used include one million cubic meters of marble from Transylvania, most from Ruşchiţa; 3,500 tonnes of crystal — 480 chandeliers, 1,409 ceiling lights and mirrors were manufactured; 700,000 tonnes of steel and bronze for monumental doors and windows, chandeliers and capitals; 900,000 sqm of wood (over 95% domestic) for parquet and wainscotting, including walnut, oak, sweet cherry, elm, sycamore maple; 200,000 sqm of woollen carpets of various dimensions (machines had to be moved inside the building to weave some of the larger carpets); velvet and brocade curtains adorned with embroideries and passementeries in silver and gold.

Though many find the Palace to be aesthetically unappealing, the exquisite craftsmanship of the decorations cannot be denied.


MDD said...

N-am vazut nimic mai impresionant decit Palatul Parlamentului.

Bucharest Hotels said...

This is a wonderful review of the Palace of the Parliament, which is the most popular landmark in Bucharest. It is one of my favourite places to visit.