Monument to Excess: Ceausescu’s Romanian Palace
Many of us who lived through the 1980s remember Nicolae Ceausescu, Romania’s megalomaniac president who was overthrown and executed alongside his wife in a bloody 1989 revolution.
Like most leaders who are eventually overthrown, gross excesses characterized Ceausescu’s rule while large numbers of Romanians at the time lived in extreme poverty. The “Palace of the Parliament,” or “People’s Palace,” was built in Bucharest to hold Romania’s four major state institutions, as well as to function as a residence for the Ceausescu family.
- world’s largest civilian administrative building (by floor area)
- most expensive administrative building
- heaviest building
I had no idea that people kept track of such things until I visited Bucharest. After much Googling, the total weight of the building still eludes me, but Romanians know it tops the list!
With more than 1,000 rooms taking up nearly four million square feet of space and 3,500 tons of crystal used for chandeliers, the palace was clearly made with the legacy of both building and commissioner in mind. During the busiest times of construction, a rotating crew of 20,000 workers labored round the clock to complete the building.
For me, the highlight of the tour is standing on the balcony overlooking the Bulevardul Unirii (Unification Boulevard), Bucharest’s own version of the Champs Elysees. From that vantage point, it is easy to imagine oneself as a head of state giving an address to an adoring crowd. If only Ceausescu had adoring crowds, he might have been able to enjoy his palace a bit longer.
(Top photo credit: David Allen — The Palace of the Parliament in Bucharest, Romania)
PUBLISHED: August 8, 2014