We first spotted Romania’s Palace of the Parliament as we walked along the Dâmbovița River. The building is ridiculously massive. It makes everything around it look toylike. We absolutely wanted to visit while we were in Bucharest.
We bought our tickets in one of the basement levels. Right away it was evident maintenance must be a big problem. Other visitors were pointed out water damage and ceiling cracks. I suppose a Palace of this size would have all the issues of a large office building, stadium, and convention center smushed together.
There is so much room that quite a bit of it is vacant much of the time. Both houses of Parliament meet in the building, and it also houses three museums, theatre spaces, offices (not in giant rooms, apparently, but still with lots of marble and wood trim), a conference center, and giant halls to rent if you have some extra money. Despite all these uses, it’s still not full…
We walked up hundreds of stairs and a couple of kilometers, but still only managed to see about 5% of the Palace. It is also supposed to be the heaviest structure in the world; given all the marble and concrete, I can readily believe it.
Our guide noted that basically all the materials making up the building are Romanian. The different color marbles were mined in the nearby Carpathian mountains and the wood is from local forests. This fact was almost as impressive as the structure itself. Entire industries must have given over huge portions of their production to finish it. Carpets were even made on site, in several pieces, and were sewn together inside because they were too large to move otherwise.
I did end up finding the Palace to be garish, even though many interior rooms are beautifully decorated. It would be a great place to host a party, but it is a also a reminder of how Ceaușescu’s regime misspent money and destroyed a neighborhood in order to built a monument to itself.