The House of Parliament through a french student's eyes
Bucharest has some beautiful piece of history and architecture that you shouldn’t miss on your trip. The one must see of Bucharest!
In the heart of the city you will find one the most impressive buildings in the world. The Palace of parliament is an unmissable in Bucharest, not for its beauty, but for the symbol that it constitutes as a reminder of the period of the dictatorship of Nicolae Ceaucescu, which in a megalomaniac delusion, built this enormous building, called the House of People at the time.
A world record building
With its 12 floors, 270 meters long and 240 meters wide, with a height of 48 metres. Its total surface of 340 000 m square makes it the second largest building in the world after the Pentagon in Washington. According to the Guinness Book records, it is the heaviest and most expensive building in the world!
The materials used for the construction are exclusively Romanians: a million cubic metres of marble, 3 500 tons of crystal, 700 000 tons of steel and bronze, 900 000 m cubic wood and 200 000 meter square of carpet.
The workers where exclusively Romanian as well! At least 700 architects worked on the construction site together with 20,000 workers under the direction of Anca Petrescu, a 26 years old architect. Work took place in three shifts, 24 hours, every day of the week, for 7 years.
The building has more than 1000 rooms, however about 70% of the building is empty.
History and description
In the century-old history of Bucharest, the Palace of Parliament is a relatively recent presence in the architectural landscape of the city. The construction began in 1984, by order of Nicolae Ceausescu. The vocation of the building was to concentrate all the administrations governing Romania: the Presidency of the Republic -Presedintia Republicii, the Grand National Assembly - Marea Adunare Nationala, the Council of Ministers -Consiliul de Ministri and the Supreme Court -Tribunalul Suprem. Not only was this building supposed to accommodate the offices, but also a number of housing staff officials who worked there. The building was also to be the home of the presidential couple (Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu).
First built as a symbol of socialism, communism and totalitarianism, it now represents Romanian democracy. Since 1994, the Parliament Palace of Romania is the seat of the Chamber of Deputies. The Senate waited for 2004 to join it.
It also contains an international conference centre and three museums: The National Museum of contemporary art, the Museum of communist totalitarianism (established in 2015) and the Palace Museum is housed inside the palace.
Without doubt, the Palace of Parliament is one of the main tourist objectives in Bucharest, but unfortunately the construction of the building required considerable sacrifices: an irremediable alteration of the architectural landscape of the city. One-fifth of its area of Bucharest, about 520 hectares, was destroyed for the establishment of the Ceacescu Palace. The destruction of some 30 churches and 30,000 buildings and houses has generated tens of thousands of expropriations without notice. It is estimated that 40,000 inhabitants were expelled, without all being decently relocated as originally announced. Most of them were hastily installed without compensation, in buildings that were totally dilapidated, not to say unhealthy, and did not even have running water, gas or electricity.
Also, at the time of the construction, the monumental work has had an astronomical cost for the country, since it is estimated at 40% of GDP per year. To pay for the construction, Nicolae Ceausescu imposed on his people hard deprivations: the temperature was limited to 16degrees Celsius in winter, and those who owned a car could use it only every other weekend. To illuminate the site, it was also necessary to ration the electricity, thus in the evenings, the popular districts had to light up with candles.
A dizzying visit: don’t miss the organized tours !
While the exterior of the imposing building can only impress, the interiors of Bucharest's Palace of Parliament are equally impressive and majestic especially walking by the huge hallways, the majestic lounges, the succession rooms with decorated ceilings and column, marble walls and staircases, monumental sculptures, multiple crystal chandeliers…. The majority of lounges and staircases are covered with heavy red carpets, gilded plaster, tapestries and silk curtains embroidered with gold thread.
Ceaucescu paid particular attention to bringing together the raw materials of which Romanian soil is richly endowed, such as oak, mahogany and fayard woods coming from the Romanian mountains, copper and gold from various mines and marble from Transylvania.
However, I must warn you that you must not expect to discover the history of communism in Romania, nor the history of Ceausescu, during the tour. The purpose of the visit is to give you details about the construction of the building as well as general information.
During your visit you will have the opportunity to visit the many rooms of reception and conference more sumptuous ones than the others. The room Alexandru Ion CUZA is certainly one of the most representative. With its ornate vaulted ceiling, this conference room covers as an area of 1,820 cubic meters and has a capacity of 1,200 people. As in most rooms of the palace, the wall columns and the floor are made of marble.
Important info before visiting:
- You can’t visit on your own the palace. Therefore call the + 40-21-311-36-11 to book your tour in Romanian, French, English or Spanish
- Don’t forget your ID card or passport to get in
- The tour is 1:30 long and costs 40 lei for adults and 20 lei for children and students
- You must bring a valid student ID card and be between 18 and 25 years old to get the student discount
- You can visit the Parliament every day from 9 am to 4 pm
- The entrance is on the opposite side of Izvor Park. Passing the barrier, you go straight ahead and do not have to climb the steps.