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Palace of the Parliament
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrPlaced in the historical and geographical center of Bucharest, the Palace of the Parliament dominates the view like a fortress with its unique architecture. Born in the mind of a man for whom dimension had a different relevance, the colossal edifice was raised during the "Golden Age" of the communist dictatorship. While being the largest building in Europe, and second only to The Pentagon worldwide, the Palace of the Parliament is the leading site without any other candidates when it comes to controversy: no other structure had known a wider avalanche of epithets, ranging from "brilliant" to "grotesque".
HistoryConstruction began in 1983 as part of Ceauşescu's vision of a New Bucharest, a project won by the architect, Anca Petrescu, when she was only 28.
Built and re-built overnight, and requiring the forced relocation of 40,000 citizens, the imposing structure took several billion dollars and a huge amount of work to complete, something which initially drew the Romanians' hatred in the period of deep privation of communism's latest years. This is how it gained its nickname "House of the People" - being solely built with the people's money.
After Ceauşescu's fall in 1989, the building was not yet complete. Seeing it as a hideous symbol of the past, some revolutionaries wanted to blow it down using dynamite. Others were seeing it as a museum for the communist period, and some eccentric ideas wanted it transformed into a casino. Eventually, authorities decided to complete the building, and it was finished in 1997, functioning as the house of the parliament ever since.
ArchitectureThe Palace of the Parliament is structured on six levels, split in 21 sectors, and built in a variation of styles: while predominantly Neo-Classical, it mixes elements of Eclecticism, Romanian Brâncovean style, and some influences of Renaissance and Baroque. Interior decorations are as famous as the building itself, displaying 480 chandeliers, 2,800 pendants, heavy rugs in a long array of salons, galleries, sumptuous halls, lobbies, and conference halls, creating an elegant setting completed by the reflections in the unique Ruşchiţa marble. It features a huge exhibit of sculptures, gilded plasters, decorative pavings and ceilings, and the oak, ash, and mahogany wood give a certain warmth to the decor, matched by the chandelier crystals.
Covering 356,000 square meters, the building has over 1,000 chambers, out of which are 440 offices, 30 salons, 4 restaurants, 3 libraries, 2 underground parking lots, and a concert hall. The list and quantity of materials used for its erection doesn't fail to impress either: one million cubic meters of marble, 5,500 tons of concrete, 7,000 tons of steel, 200,000 cubic meters of glass, and almost one million cubic meters of wood. No less than 700 architects and roughly 20,000 laborers, who worked 24/7 in three shifts, have made the project complete.
The entrance leads into a large lobby, flanked by marble columns, linked to the large stair which remains open at all levels, thus creating a spectacular space. The stairs is 98 feet long and 89 feet wide and leads to the presidential chambers. Inside the lobby, symmetrical with the entrance, are two antechambers. The originality of this lobby can be found in the ceiling motif, which reflects in the floor decor, a mosaic inspired by the one uncovered at Histria , which depicts the time of Ancient Greek colonies on Romanian land.
The biggest chandelier in the building is in the Rosetti Hall. It has 700 light bulbs, weighs three tons, and in order to be cleaned, it is necessary for the janitors to actually step inside the chandelier from the floor above. Four persons can fit inside.
VisitingThe Palace of the Parliament is open to the public every day between 10 AM and 4 PM, but only certain chambers. The last tour starts at 3:30 PM, and the standard tour is priced at 25 RON ($6.25) per person. The terrace tour is 15 RON ($3.75), and the underground tour costs 10 RON ($2.50). The full tour package is priced at 45 RON ($11). Entrance is free for children, pupils, students, and disabled persons.
How to Get ThereThe Palace of the Parliament is located near the historical center, and can be reached by subway (Izvor station), or by bus (104, 123, 124, 385). If on a weekend, it is best to go by car because traffic in Bucharest is not busy, and there is free parking in the courtyard.
Other AttractionsAfter a tour of the building, you will probably want to relax at a terrace or pub in the vicinity. For that purpose, the historical center is an ideal place with countless options. In the same area is the Old Princely Court, the ruins of Vlad the Impaler 's seat of power, which can also be visited. Last but least, the National Art Museum (former Royal Palace) and the Romanian Athenaeum can both be visited in the Revolution Plaza on Victory Lane.
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Author: aelumag. Last updated: Feb 27, 2015