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7 July 2011 / leggypeggy

Madman’s House AKA Palace of Parliament

The Palace of Parliament epitomises the megalomania that gripped Ceaușescu in the 1980s. The building is massive—270m by 240m and 86m high—and second in size worldwide only to the Pentagon. It stands on the former Spirei Hill, which was razed for this project. There are 12 storeys and four underground levels (including a nuclear bunker). Ceaușescu wanted the palace to house ministries, Communist Party offices and high functionaries (in apartments).

The statistics are mind-boggling—1100 rooms (450 are in use), 4500 chandeliers, acres of marble and gold leaf, a 100m-long lobby, curtain panels that weighs 250kg each and a carpet that takes 80 people to roll out. There were 700 architects involved and 20,000 construction workers. Most of the workers were prisoners and soldiers. Our guide told us that many skilled engineers refused to work on the palace, but Ceaușescu got around this by having them conscripted into the army and then ordered to work on the project. The lead architect was a woman—and only 27 when she won the job. She remains involved and her role today may be greater than it was in Ceaușescu’s time. He and his wife had ever-changing whims—one sweeping staircase was rebuilt three times before they were satisfied—so the architects often only give technical advice.

Construction began in the early 1980s and continued after Ceaușescu was overthrown and executed. It became a white elephant, and was often referred to as the Casa Nebunului (Madman’s House). The new government agonised over what would be an acceptable use for it. In 1994, it was decided that it could house the Senate and Parliament. Many international conventions are also held there.

We had a 90-minute tour and saw about 5 per cent of the building—including some of the most dazzling rooms and decorations. The foreground of the first picture is being set up for Bon Jovi’s open-air performance next weekend.

If you have time, have a look at  A bright idea and A grand avenue in Bucharest.

And don’t forget to pick a number before 29 February 2012.

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5 Comments

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  1. Sy S. / Jul 7 2011 9:50 am

    Soooo are there any bathrooms and if so, do they have “Proper” Toilet Paper (double thick) for such a beautiful building. Or do they go “Paperless” LOL (Sorry had to comment). In any event, anyone on the “tour truck” should never again complain about moping a small truck each morning… instead of cleaning this beautiful Palace every day.

    Sy S.

    Like

  2. leggypeggy / Jul 10 2011 6:18 am

    Lots of bathrooms and lots of decent toilet paper. But I’m glad I don’t have to clean this place.

    Like

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