I don’t want to get too political on this blog, but it’s fair to say that I’m not a fan of the governance of Nicolae Ceaușescu. And this building is one of the reasons for that dislike, as whilst he presided over a political system that had tens of thousands of children in orphanages and a country that didn’t have enough electricity, he decided to build one of the largest, and heaviest, buildings in the world, the Palace of the Parliament. He destroyed a huge chunk of the city to build it, he ploughed through history and constructed a building that remains 70% unused. Hundreds of people died during the construction, 40,000 people lost their homes and Romania couldn’t afford the extreme costs of this building. Look at the size of the building as it is, but there are also eight underground levels. This is a building meant to be part of the Ceaușescu personality cult, but it’s fair to say that it didn’t turn out as he intended.
Anyway, politics aside, I was pleased to be going on a tour of the building as I didn’t get chance to do that last time I came to the city. Visitors have to phone up to make a reservation, and as Susanna is the most social of the group, she did that.
There’s a free art installation on the ground floor for visitors to look at and, let’s be honest, it’s not like they’re short of space as there’s a total of 4 million square feet in the building.
There was tight security, but this is the working Parliament of the country, so that’s to be expected. Here’s my visitor’s pass and they carefully checked IDs before allowing entry. Our tour didn’t visit some of the rooms as Parliament was sitting, although the tour remained at an hour or so in length.
There were a lot of long corridors such as this.
A theatre, which is still used, with what I think is the biggest chandelier in the building.
A carpet designed to fit into the flooring. Just imagine the cost of all this.
Interviewing of what I assume to be Romanian politicians.
This would have been the grand entrance for international dignitaries and Nicolae Ceaușescu would have walked down those stairs whilst his wife, Elena Ceaușescu, would have walked down stairs that were located opposite.
The curtains are so large that they’re dry cleaned in situ.
The first of three rooms all next to each other.
The second room.
And the third room. These are huge rooms, do they really need three of the things? There are 1,100 rooms in total and just under 3,000 chandeliers.
The building is so heavy that it’s sinking, which is causing cracks throughout the structure.
Another function room.
It was a fascinating tour, although I struggled to hear the guide for quite a bit of the walk around. The group size was large, perhaps just a little too large, but we saw a fair amount of the building. At the end the guide said we had only seen 2% or 3% of the interior, a reminder of how large the structure is. I’d recommend the tour to others, it’s a way of seeing inside this enormous building which they clearly still don’t know what to do with. There’s a temptation to use it commercially, but it is the Parliament building and they don’t want to Disneyfy it. There’s an interesting Guardian article on the whole arrangement.