Drive around Parliament Palace

Stories of great palaces and luxury buildings in Romanian cities offer locals many reasons for pride.
These are major tourist attractions, even if they host public institutions.

Of course no Bucharest visit would be complete without seeing the magnificent but blatantly excessive Parliament Palace of ex-President Ceausescu.
But if you don’t have 1 hour to spare, take at least a ride around it.
You will make an idea about Europe’s most grandiose administrative edifice.
Found in top of the most beautiful palaces in Romania it best represents “communist legacy”. That is why this became one of city’s emblems.

 

Listen great stories about Parliament Palace right within its halls

Drive around Parliament Palace - Bucharest private car tour | Romania highlights

Some historians say Parliament Palace plans existed even since the reign of King Carol II.
But the works started only in 1984, during Nicolae Ceausescu’s communist regime.

The dictator president who ordered it named it Republic House, but many Romanians call it House of People.
In 1974 when Ceausescu couple visited New York, by chance, architect Budisteanu was Elena’s guide.
She didn’t like him.
At that time Nicolae Ceausescu was still against demolitions.

But 3 years later, in march 1977, the earthquake that partially destroyed Bucharest changed his mind.
So the communist dictator decided to reconstruct the city after the plans from 1935.
”If Americans can, we can too” he said referring to Arsenal neighborhood (nowadays Parliament Palace).
And because the couple preferred the already known people, Mr. Budisteanu became Chief Architect of capital (for the next 6 years).
If someone told Nicolae Ceausescu “This is not good”, he was always answering “It must”.
For this reason, Chief Architect used to say to him “How about trying…?” in order to obtain the approval for the best solution.

The dictator wanted Romanian architecture not cubism and so on.
He considered that Bucharest lacks palaces, this being the reason for this palace appearance.
Meant to be the central element of Ceausescu’s communist Bucharest, the dictator named it: “Victory of Socialism Center”.
He didn’t realized but this was the beginning of Ceausescu’s regime downfall.

 

Get stunning insights from an unique vantage point !

Dambovita River and Izvor Park next to Parliament Palace - Bucharest grand tour | Escorted tours of Romania

In order to make room for People House, communists entirely demolished one of capital’s oldest neighborhood: Uranus or Arsenal Hill.
They razed tens of thousands of homes for the monolith relocating people living in that area.

Then, this became the largest building site in Bucharest.

The palace – future seat of political and administrative power – should have housed all 4 major state institutions:
– Republic’s Presidency (today’s Presidency)
– Great National Assembly (today’s Parliament)
– Ministers Council (today’s Government)
– Supreme Court (today’s High Court of Cassation and Justice).
That is why architect Anca Petrescu designed it in rectangular shape.
Nowadays the multi-purpose building houses Romanian:
– Parliament,
– Senate (since 2005; previously housed in the former Communist Party Central Committee building) and
– Chamber of Deputies (since 1997; previously housed within Patriarchy Palace).

Began in early ‘80s and completed in ‘97, Parliament Palace has:
– 365,000 sq m (1,000 sq m for each day of a year)
– 1,100 rooms spread on 12 floors above ground and almost as many underground
– and an anti-atomic bunker.

 

Explore the second largest administrative building in the world

Main entrance of Parliament Palace - Bucharest private car tour | Bespoke route travel providers Romania

According to Guinness World Records, this administrative building is the world’s:
- second largest (after Pentagon),
- first largest civilian one and
- the most expensive one (USD 4 billion before 1994).
The absolute largest palace in the world is also the world’s heaviest building (it has 1,000,000 cube meters of marble).

During the 2 hours guided tour of the palace you roughly see 5% of it.
By the way, would you ever imagine that its debris would be higher than the Pyramid of Keops ?
One of the most impressive and generous conference centers in Europe, this has halls from 100 to 2,600 sq m.
Conference halls available within Bucharest hotels costs around 1,000 Euro per day per 400 seats.
Parliament Palace has several halls of up to 1,500 seats rented for up to 6,000 Euro per day.
Throne Hall – from Romanian National Art Museum – costs up to 10,000 Euro per day.
No wonder the last two lead Bucharest’s events market which has about 40% of the country’s meeting spaces !

 

Romanian artistry quintessence

National Museum of Contemporary Art - People House | Things to do in Bucharest

The creation of no less than 20,000 workers and 700 architects blends many different styles.
Constructed almost exclusively with local materials, this reflects the artistry of Romanian architects and artisans.

It overflows with:
– marble (from Transylvania, most from Ruschita in Western Carpathians)
– crystal (3,500 tons) and
– lavishly furnished rooms: monumental doors, windows, chandeliers, capitals, wood parquet, curtains with silver and gold embroideries and passementeries…
In order to weave some of the larger woollen carpets, they had to move the machines inside the building.
Despite the sayings this is a 100% Romanian project, it has a hall covered in mahogany !
This was a gift from Mobutu SeSe Seko (President of Congo) who some says was a cannibal.

Nicolae Ceausescu imported silkworms from China and pupils had to feed them as school project.
This was in order to produce the silk necessary to decorate some of his palace walls.
Silk curtains were made in Sighisoara.
Mirror marble stairs at the palace main entrance are similar with those at Hermitage Palace in St. Petersburg.
Each of the marble stairs – redone 6 times – have 65 steps up to the next floor.
This is because the dictator became president of Romania in 1965.
They also say these have the height of Nicolae Ceausescu’s ankle to not get tired climbing them.
Looking carefully here and in other places within People’s House you will notice the cross sign hidden in decorative motifs.

 

So large, so busy, so important…

… that you will never know exactly which halls they will show you.
One thing is for sure.

If you are lucky you will visit even the Pink Hall.
This is not usually open to public being kept for official meetings.
Pink marble is found only in Romania, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Mexic.
The one used here is Romanian and they brought it from as far as Ruschita.

Rosetti Theatre Hall has the biggest chandelier.
But they forgot to built the backstage so it never served as theater.

Human Rights Hall had to have 61 seats, 1 being golden, for him, under Romania’s map.

Al. I. Cuza Hall – meant for contracts signage – resembles to the Throne Hall within Winter Royal Palace.
This is the second largest hall and with its 92 m height is the highest one.
Opposite to the gold leafed eagle and Romania’s coats of arms there is a space.
There, the orchestra Ceausescu wished to keep him calm should stay.
From its balcony he wished to keep his speeches in front of the people gathered in the Constitution Square.
But the only VIP who ever kept a speech from the balcony was Michael Jackson.
That was during the 1993 Dangerous World Tour, when he said “Hello, Budapest I am so glad to be here !”
For those willing to admire Bucharest panorama right from the Parliament Palace balcony: Unirii Avenue with the fountains was meant to be more beautiful than Champs Elysee.
This is actually only 1 m wider than the avenue in Paris.

Union Hall, the largest one, has 2,200 sq m and displays a chandelier with 7,000 light-balls weighting 3 tons.
The large space in its wall should have contain a huge painting of Ceausescu.
This  was never carried out due to Revolution.

Next to People’s Palace was meant to be the Palace of Elena Ceausescu: Romanian Academy.

 

Follow the steps of VIP guests

Stand right in the center of Parliament Palace - Private Bucharest airport transfer | Travel services in Romania
After 1989 revolution there was a contest for Bucharest rearrangement.
Winning project belonged to a Romanian - American team.

They were proposing to hide People House with skyscrapers and winding streets.
As you can see this was never put into practice.

Some say Donald Trump wanted to buy the building to transform it into a casino.
Meant to be a living monument to the dictator, this was never truly completed nor lived !

In 1996 the famous Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci held her wedding party here.

For several years the actress Leslie Hawke organized the Halloween Charity Ball here.

In 2002, Costas Gavras – the famous Greek movie producer – wanted to film Amen within Vatican.
Vatican refused, so he shot the scenes of the papal palace in the Parliament Palace which looks very similar.
They only had to add on the walls paper photos of real paintings within Vatican.

In 2008, the palace also hosted 20th NATO summit.

 

Notes

Guided tour of Parliament Palace - Bucharest highlights | Where to go in Romania

– Address: Str Izvor 2-4 (entrance through the gate from Izvor Park).
Opening hours, tariffs & visiting rules.
– Appointment shall be done on the visit day between 09:30 – 10:00.
– For access within their courtyard parking, car license plate number shall be informed too.
– Tours organized almost every hour; first tour in English usually starts after 10:00 / 10:30 and the last one starts at 16:00 (summer).
– They set English timings upon large travel agencies.
– Arrival 15 minutes in advance is compulsory (to avoid automatically cancellation of your reservation).
– Payment in cash in RON on the day of visit.
– Original, valid national identity card or passport exclusively and compulsory for access (which can be denied if events are hosted).
Security checkpoint will hold your identification papers during visit.
Visitor pass you will receive must be clearly visible on your person at all times.
– Airport style checking.
– You are not permitted to leave your personal belongings or luggage unattended at any time or in the care of other persons.[/expand]

 

Bucharest car tour

 

Over 15 years of experience in hospitality field
BA in Tourism Economy, MA in International Tourism, Tourism Manager License
Love making guests happy by giving them exceptional moments to cherish for life

See you all back here soon for more tips, picked expressly for you.
Meanwhile feel free to address me any question you might have about Romania.
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Happy tours !

Warm regards,
Kryss

 

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