The Palace of Parliament is the largest and heaviest administrative building on the planet used for civilian purposes, and also the second largest administrative building overall, after the Pentagon. Currently, this imposing building houses the Romanian Senate and the Romanian Chamber of Deputies, and it is also the headquarters of the Southeast European Cooperation Initiative.
Also known as the “People’s House”, it was Nicolae Ceausescu’s attempt to redesign Bucharest by constructing a series of impressive buildings meant to prove to the world how wealthy and powerful was the Socialist Republic of Romania. The constructions began in 1983 when Romania was under the communist reign and by the time of the Romanian Revolution in 1989 the building wasn’t yet finished. Today, the building has only 400 chambers and 2 large halls that can be used, out of its total of 1,100 rooms. After the Revolution, no one had the desire to complete this gigantic building. In fact, many Romanians demanded the destruction of the building which was seen as a symbol of Ceausescu’s megalomania and of the extravagant lives lead by the former communist elites.
Without a doubt, the Palace of the Parliament is one of the most controversial administrative buildings in the world. Maybe Ceausescu didn’t succeed in his initial goal of redesigning the face of Bucharest, but by building it he made sure that his work will never be forgotten. Here are just a few interesting facts about the Palace of the Parliament.
The Palace of the Parliament is visible from the Moon
Yes, that’s right. The Great Wall of China and the Pentagon aren’t the only constructions in the world made by man that can be seen from the Moon. The Palace of the Parliament is also one of these unique and impressive constructions.
It is bigger than Cheops’ Pyramid
Cheops’ Pyramid from Egypt has a 2.550.000 m³ capacity which is pretty huge for a building, but, believe it or not, the Romanian Palace of the Parliament is bigger with 2%.
400 contributing architects lead by a 28 years-old woman
Even though it used to be a communist country at that time, Romania was set on performance more than on gender discrimination. The construction process involved 400 architects and they were coordinated by a young woman named Anca Petrescu. She was only 28 years-old.
Building and Decorating in Figures
For building the Palace of the Parliament, they needed 1.000.000 m³ of marble, 900.000 m³ wood essences, 3.500 de tons of crystal while for decorating the interior they used 220.000 m² of carpets and 3.500 m² of calf skin. Plus, all the materials used were of Romanian origin. The only exceptions are the doors of Nicolae Balcescu Hall. These were received by Ceausescu as a gift from his friend, the African dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, who was back then the President of the Republic of Zaire.
It was all about the size
Ceausescu really wanted to have the hugest Palace of the Parliament in the world. The building has 20 floors (8 of them are underground), 1,100 rooms and a total size of 330.000 m². The Guinness Book of Records ranks it second after the Pentagon in the “Administrative Buildings” category.
Initially it was named “House of the Republic”
At first, the building was called “House of the Republic”, but its name was changed after the Romanian Revolution into “People’s House”(Casa Poporului). When it became the headquarters of the Senate and Chamber of Deputies it was again renamed as the Palace of Parliament.
In the famous TV show “Top Gear” we see the three presenters driving their cars through the tunnels that are hidden beneath the Palace of the Parliament. These were designed by Nicolae Ceausescu so he can get from the building to the airport below ground in case of a Revolution. He was very cautious, but unfortunately this did not help him much when the actual Romanian Revolution started.