Last week I visited one of the biggest landmarks of Bucharest, the Palace of Parliament (or ‘Palatul Parlamentului’ in Romanian), the biggest building in Europe and 2nd biggest in the world! Today I will tell you all about it.
A little bit of history
The Palace of Parliament nowadays is a multi-purpose building and it contains both chambers of the Romanian Parliament. It was built by architect Anca Petrescu, who was assigned by former dictator Nicolea Ceausescu himself during the communist regime.
The construction began on June 25th, 1984 and was completed in 1997. To be able to build the palace the whole area had to be cleaned out, including all the people that were living there at the time. Also churches, monastery’s and synagogues were moved. Word has it that Ceausescu visited North Korea before the construction to get inspired by communist building. During the revolution in 1989 the building wasn’t finished yet, so Ceausescu has never seen the final result.
Since 1996 the building housed Romania’s Chamber of Deputies, the Romanian Legislative Council and the Romanian Competition Council. In 2005 they were joined by the Romanian Senate. The palace also contains various conference rooms that you can rent even today.
The palace measures 270 by 240 meters and has a surface of 350,000 m². It has 2000 rooms and it is almost entirely built out of marble, which comes from Romania itself. Also the curtains (made of silk and velvet) and the chandeliers (made of crystal) are local (mostly Transylvanian) products. Back in the day it was great for the Romanian economy, as almost everyone could find a job building the palace.
Visiting the building
Last week I went there to check it out for myself. I was in the fine company of a fellow traveler, let’s call him ‘the engineer’ for now. We took a tour in the morning, guided by an English speaking tour guide. I found the building very impressive from the outside already, but inside it was a true feast to the eyes. As we entered the rooms and hall, one even bigger than the other, we couldn’t help but joking about Ceausescu’s addiction to everything that is huge! Let’s say we imagined that he might have had the longest model train track in the world as well, but of course this is just guessing. 😉
The tour lasted for 2 hours, but surprisingly enough you only get to see 5% of the entire building, the so-called tourist path. It amazed me because even though you know it’s a big building, I never expected it to be this big!
For the entrance I paid around 45 lei (around 10 euro’s). We took the full tour since that was the only one available during the time we visited. If you do have a choice I would recommend skipping the basement, as it is a pretty quick run through and there is not much to see. It makes you guess about what’s underneath the building (Escaping systems? Panic rooms? They cannot tell you), but because you can see only so little it’s not really worth it.
They also ask a 30 lei fee for taking pictures inside, which I found a bit ridiculous so I didn’t do it. I would love to show you pictures from the inside, but I think you might need to use Google on that one. The good thing is that you can take pictures for free on the roof and the balcony, which is the nicest part anyway since it gives you a great view on Bucharest.
A few tips
When you arrive there make sure you have your passport or ID on you. Because the building is still used as a government building, they check you thoroughly and you might feel like you’re at an airport. Do not carry any sharp things on you.
If you haven’t paid the fee for taking photo’s then don’t try to! They will call security and kick you out. Besides it’s kind of rude to do so anyway, don’t you think?
Are you a student? Take your student card with you at all times! The “engineer” had it, so he paid only half of the price. If you’re travelling on a tight budget that might help you see a lot way cheaper. In Bucharest there are many attractions where you can get a discount using a student card, foreign or not.
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