The communists during the Cold War famously built many large and imposing buildings. Often the message was that communism was enduring (it wasn't) and was there to stay (it didn't). One of the most remarkable of the buildings they built is the Palace of the Parliament (or People's House) in Bucharest in Romania. While Romania was not part of the Soviet Union, it was part of the Warsaw Block and was a communist state.
Romania is the home of Count Dracula, Transylvania, and the fabled stories of vampires. Be sure to include a trip to Transylvania on one's trip to Romania. One can actually visit Bran Castle In Transylvania that was the inspiration for Bram Stoker's 'Dracula'.
The Size of The Palace of the Parliament
The massive Palace of the Parliament reaches a height of 84 meters (or 276 feet) and has a floor area of 365,000 square meters (or almost 4 million square feet). It is the heaviest building in the world weighing a monumental 4.1 million tonnes (or 9 billion pounds).
The only other administrative building that is larger is the Pentagon and according to the Lonely Planet, the Palace of the Parliament is actually still unfinished.
It is so large that it houses three museums and houses functions and conferences, and despite that and being the working parliament of Romania it is still about 70% empty.
- Occupancy: The Building Remains 70% Empty
- Weight: Over 4 Million Tonnes or 9 Billion Pounds
- Rooms: Over 3000 Rooms
The building is known for its ornate interior. It houses both chambers of the Parliament of Romania (the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies). In addition, it has three museums and an international conference center.
- National Museum of Contemporary Art
- Museum of Communist Totalitarianism
- Museum of The Palace
In 2020 the Palace of Parliament was valued at €4 billion ($4.5 Billion) - enough to make it the most expensive administrative building in the world.
It costs around $6 million per year in heating, electricity, and lighting expenses alone - that's enough to power a medium-sized city.
To make way for the building the Uranus Hill part of Bucharest was demolished - it had been home to the National Archives, several monasteries, and much more. In all about 7 square kilometers or 2.7 square miles of the old city center were demolished. About 40,000 people were uprooted as a result.
The building was constructed with forced labor and soldiers in an effort to cut down and extremely high costs. It is estimated that between 20,000 and 100,000 people worked on the project and operated in three shifts made up of 5,000 men from the Romanian People's Army as well as a large number of "volunteers."
Architecture And The Romanian President Nicolae Ceaușescu
The building was designed by chief architect Anca Petrescu with the aid of a team of around 700 architects. It took 13 years to construct and was built in Socialist realist and modernist Neoclassical architectural styles. Ironically the socialist state collapsed before the building (that was meant to show the enduring nature of socialism) could be completed.
- Built: From 1984 to 1997 (13 Years)
The Palace was ordered by the Romanian president Nicolae Ceaușescu. He was the communist ruler that established a personality cult during his reign. As the communist governments fell around Europe in 1989, they fell mostly peacefully. But in Romania the transition was bloody.
Nicolae Ceaușescu was addressing a crowd from his balcony that he thought were supporting him until he realized they were protesting against him. Shortly afterward while attempting to flee he was arrested and (together with his wife) was summarily executed by firing squad.
Visiting The Palace of Parliament
Today the Palace of Parliament is open to the public and visitors can see the ridiculous size of the building for a medium-sized and poorer country like Romania.
- Entry: By Guided Tour Only
- Passport: One Must Bring Their Passport to Enter
- March – October: Daily 09.00 am to 5.00 pm (Last Tour at 4.30 pm)
- November - February: Daily 10.00 am to 4.00 pm (Last Tour At 3.30 pm)
There are several types of tours available. These include the "standard" tour of the main rooms and hallways. Then there are "complete" tours that include tours of the basement as well.
Standard Tour Fees:
- Adults: 40 Lei Per Person ($10)
- Students: 20 Lei Per Person ($5) (19 - 26 years old, with a valid student ID)
- Children: 10 Lei Per Person ($2.5) (7 - 18 years old)
- Little Children: 6 Years And Under Free
- Duration: Around 45 Minutes
Standard + Underground Tour (access 2 floors on stairs)
- Adults: 45 Lei Per Person ($12)
- Students: 23 Lei Per Person ($6) (19 - 26 years old, with a valid student ID)
- Children: 15 Lei Per Person ($4) (7 - 18 years old)
- Duration: Around 1 Hour
Panoramic Tour – Terrace (lift access)
- Note: Maximum 6 People Per Group
- Admission price: 600 Lei ($140) Per Tour
If one would like to visit, the entrance tickets can be purchased only on the day of one's visit from the ticket office located within the "Constantin Brâncuși" Exhibition Hall 2-4, Izvor Street. Payments are accepted in both cash and by credit card.