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Parliament palace Bucharest Romania largest structure in Europe

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History

In 1984 Nicolae Ceausescu, the President of the former Socialist Republic of Romania, and his wife, Elena, laid the foundation stone of the biggest construction site in Europe ever— “The House of the Republic” and the surrounding architectural complex—including two large plazas on both ends of the long “Victory of Socialism” boulevard, and administrative and apartment buildings. The event took places after several years’ efforts to raze a significant portion of the historical center of Bucharest—which involved, among other things, historical buildings, a monastery, several churches, a museum, and an entire neighborhood with fin-de-siècle housing and department stores.
To this day, the huge construction and the adjacent complex (now the Union Boulevard) dominate the landscape of the Romanian Capital. The building, too huge to escape any tour of Bucharest, has been the object of controversy and squabble among Romanian intellectuals, generating mixed feelings of awe and nausea, pride and rejection, admiration and bitterness among the general public (including foreign visitors who tend to include a tour of the now Palace of Parliament as an obligatory stop on their agenda).

Fireworks_parliament_palace_Bucharest_Panorama

History is written using words, dates, figures. However, more often than not, it shapes symbols, real traces of civilization deeply rooted in the cultural heritage of an ethnic entity - a sign of identity and supremacy. Time emphasizes or shades them away while contemporaneity approaches them from a critical perspective. This is also the case of the Palace of the Parliament, a public edifice which, by its amazing proportions and detachement from the Romanian traditional style, has become a controversial, but imposing, symbol of an era.

The emblematic edifice of the Palace of the Parliament is placed in the heart of the historical center of Bucharest. Covering a total area of 365,000 sqm makes it the second largest building and the third by volume in the world, under the Administrative Buildings Section of the Guinness Book of Records. The Romanian Palace of Parliament, a megalomaniac project initiated by the country’s former communist dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, and considered to be the second-largest building in the world after the Pentagon.

parliament_pallace_bucharest_aerial_view

This building has taken on successive layers of meaning (from positive—a symbol of the triumph of communism—to entirely negative—a symbol of communist oppression and failure, the work of a megalomaniac and “madman,” the cause of Romania’s economic collapse—to more neutral—a stone “colossus” and a statistics—the world’s second largest administrative building—and finally back to positive connotations, as it was integrated back into the Romanian ethos as a proud display of Romanian ingenuity, artistic craft and resourcefulness, a cornerstone of Romanian nationalism, in many ways similar with what Romania’s former communist dictator was trying to build).

  

Description

The Palace was designed and nearly completed by the Ceau?escu regime as the seat of political and administrative power.


Parliament_palace_panoramic_exterior_daylight

The Palace measures 270 m (890 ft) by 240 m (790 ft), 86 m (282 ft) high, and 92 m (302 ft) underground. It has 1,100 rooms, 2 underground parking garages and is 12 stories tall, with four underground levels currently available for the general public and in use, and another four in different stages of completion. The floorspace is 340,000 m2 (3,700,000 sq ft). The structure combines elements and motifs from multiple sources, in an eclectic neoclassical architectural style.
The building is constructed almost entirely of materials of Romanian origin. Estimates of the materials used include one million cubic meters of marble from Transylvania, most from Ruschita; 3,500 tonnes of crystal — 480 chandeliers, 1,409 ceiling lights and mirrors were manufactured; 700,000 tonnes of steel and bronze for monumental doors and windows, chandeliers and capitals; 900,000 m2 (9,700,000 sq ft) of wood, over 95% of which is domestic, for parquet and wainscoting, including walnut, oak, sweet cherry, elm, sycamore maple; 200,000 m2 (2,200,000 sq ft) of woolen carpets of various dimensions, the larger of which were woven on-site by machines moved into the building; velvet and brocade curtains adorned with embroideries and passementeries in silver and gold.

 Parliament_palace(casa_poporului_Bucharest_Romania

The idea of raising such a monumental piece of architecture dated a long time ago, but it materialized only in 1984, June 25 when the construction began. Architects and engineers have contributed to the achievement of this ambitious project, originally called "The House of the Republic", then "The House of the People" and finally "The Palace of the Parliament". There was no secret that when Ceausescu started the building of the then called “The House of the Republic,” what he actually meant was a glorification of his dictatorship. The site involved the tearing down of 9,300 homes, one cathedral, and more than a dozen churches, most dating from the 19th century or before.


The “Civic Center” complex includes, apart from the bland and colossal People’s House, the 3.5 km long Avenue of Socialist Victory, ending at the other end in a huge round square—Alba Iulia Square (Alba Iulia is the place where the decision was made for Transylvania to join the Kingdom of Romania in 1918l the choice of the name is significant for the efforts of the regime to continuously reassess two crucial ideas: the unity and continuity of the Romanian people).

Eclectic in style, it brings together elements of Romanian traditional architecture (where the Brancovenian style prevails), of Romanian popular ornamental art (such as the rosette, the symbol of the sun and typical woodcarvings), but also Renaissance, Germanic and Baroque influences. This architectural ensemble puts together not only impressive quantities of marble, steel, concrete and wood essences, but also a huge amount of work. Genuine Romanian materials have been used and one can say that the entire country has contributed with something to the construction and decoration of the halls.

Divided into 21 parts, the edifice is an overwhelming alternation of monumental spaces, magnificent auditoriums, generously sized halls and foyers rich in ornamental details.
Parliament_palace(casa_poporului_Bucharest_Romania
 

Due to its sheer size, the first thing that one learns about the People’s House is statistics. The Guiness Book of World Records lists the building on the second place in the world in terms of area after the Pentagon with an area of 330.000 m2, and on the third in the world in point of volume (2,550,000 m3 ), after the rocket assembly hangar at Cape Canaveral and Quetzalcoatl pyramid in Mexico).
The building goes 6 (some say 8) levels below ground and raises 86 meters above ground. The barren hill covered by patches of ungroomed grass itself raises at 18 m, making the People’s House the highest building in Bucharest. The statistics are significant as they betray the intention of the complex: it was supposed to be larger than life, in a supposed “competition” with the rest of the world, an apotheosis of the regime.

Parliament_palace_Bucharest_Map

The avenue itself (now called Union Ave.) was designed to be slightly larger than Champs Elysées in Paris. “Casa Poporului” is a tall, solid, square, 4-tier, 1000-room structure made of white travertine. Its purpose was to host the main state and party institutions (the separation between the two concepts, state and Communist party, had long been forgotten). Some of the halls are bigger than a football field and were designed for the special glorification of the ruling pair (for example, one can still see the 25 ft. tall empty slots at both ends of a huge hall, which were meant to shelter the oversized portraits of Ceausescu and his wife).

Interior_picures_parliament_palace_bucharest_4


Ceausescu boasted that all the materials used to build it were made in Romania—from marble to crystal, from precious wood essences to intricate and hand-made tapestries and carpets. There are 2,800 candelabra, 222,000 m2 of carpets, 3,500 tons of crystal, 3,500 m2 of leather, and one million m3 of marble. 700 architects and about 20,000 workers (at least these are the official figures) worked day and night (three shifts, 24 hours a day) so that most of the building was erected by 1989. The cost of the building is now estimated at about 6 billion dollars; however, there is no definite figure for that, since apparently no clear accounting on the use of the resources was found, and most workers and manufacturers were conscripted (the phrase used was “patriotic labor”) to produce the huge amounts of raw or finished materials that the building was swallowing. For comparison purposes, the total Romanian GDP for 1993 was 17 billion USD. At the same time, in order to fund the project, Romanians suffered various deprivations such as food, electricity and heat rationing. This explains the popular reaction after the ousting and execution of the Ceausescus in 1989 vis-à-vis Casa Poporului (then still known as the House of the Republic).

 

The "People house " -a.k.a Parliament Palace is a multi-purpose building containing both chambers of the Romanian Parliament. According to the World Records Academy, the Palace is the world's largest civilian building with an administrative function, most expensive administrative building, and heaviest building.

  

Its dimensions are: 84 m high (above point 0 of the ground floor) 275 m long 235 m wide.

Facilities 

  • Space Available 10 000 sqm (conference and exhibition area) 8 meeting halls from 50 to 1200 seats cloak-room lobbies and galleries parking lot 2 main entrances elevators first aid station.
  • Technical Facilities installed and mobile simultaneous translation system video projector international telephone, fax Event Management conference & congress organization exhibition organization .
  • Catering standing buffets dinners cocktails buffets coffee breaks  

    

Media, shows In 2002, Costa Gavras shot scenes of the film Amen in the Palace, meant to represent the Vatican. In 23'rd September 2009, in the BBC show Top Gear some scenes were shot in the Palace and those scenes appeared in Episode 1, where the presenters, Jeremy Clarkson (in an Aston Martin DBS Volante), Richard Hammond (in a Ferrari California) and James May (in a Lamborghini LP560-4 Spyder) had a "Sat-Nav" race to the Palace, and are then shown driving throughout its underground tunnels and garages.

Other examples Renault show - 2009, many exqibitions and private Corporate parties.

   

Interesting facts 
 
 -  Underground tunnels -was build by Ceausescu as a runaway route and anti atomic shelder.
 -  According to the World Records Academy, the Palace is the world's largest civilian building with an administrative function, most expensive administrative building, and heaviest building.
 -  The Guiness Book of World Records lists the building on the second place in the world in terms of area after the Pentagon The cost of the building is now estimated at about 6 billion dollars, and for comparison purposes, the total Romanian GDP for 1993 was 17 billion USD.

  

Util's

Address: Strada Izvor 2-4, Bucharest 050563, Romania

Opening hours - Daily between 10:00 and 16:00 (last tour at 15:30) Reservation - + 40-21-311 36 11; + 40-21-414 14 26, E-mail: cic.vizite@cdep.ro

 Admission fees

1. Standard Tour - 25 LEI/person (around 6.5 euro)
2. Overview of the city - Terrace Tour (Access by Elevator) - 15 LEI/person(around 4 euro)
3. Underground Tour (access only on stairs) - 10 LEI/person (around 2.5 euro)
4. Standard Tour  +  Overview of the city  -  Terrace (Upper Floor Access by Elevator) - 35 LEI/person (around 8 euro)
5. Standard Tour + Underground (access only on stairs) - 30 LEI/person (around 7.5 euro)
6. Standard Tour + Overview of the city (Terrace) + Underground - 45 LEI/person (around 11 euro)

Students

1. Standard Tour - 13 LEI/person (around 4 euro)
2. Overview of the city - Terrace Tour (Access by Elevator) - 8 LEI/person (around 2 euro)
3. Underground Tour (access only on stairs) - 5 LEI/person (around 1.2 euro)
4. Standard Tour  +   Overview of the city - Terrace (Upper Floor Access by Elevator)  - 18 LEI/person (around 4.5 euro)
5. Standard Tour + Underground (access only on stairs) - 15 LEI/person (around 4 euro)
6. Standard Tour + Overview of the city (Terrace) + Underground - 23 LEI/person (around 6 euro)

Free admission

Children under 7, pupils under 18 (who have their pupil card on them), persons with disabilities (with documentary evidence), /  Wheelchair access: recommended - by prior arrangement.

Additional fees
Photo camera: 30 LEI (around 7.6 euro) Video camera: 30 LEI (around 7.6 euro)

Other fees

Professional photo shooting: 100 EURO/hour Professional film shooting:   5000 EURO/hour

For professional photo & film shooting, please send your request at the fax number:+ 40-21-312 09 02

 Visiting rules

1. For all tours: groups of maximum 25 persons
2. Access: only with an identification document (identity card, passport)
3. Tours 3, 5, 6: inaccessible for disabled persons
4. Mondays and Tuesdays tours 4 and 6 are available only at 10:30 and 14:00. Except for: January, July, August
5. Wednesdays to Tuesdays tours 4 and 6 are available between 11:00 - 14:00 
- First group - 11:00 o'clock           
- Last group - 14:00 o'clock
6. Time allowed on the terrace: maximum 30 minutes
7. Descending elevator - last lap: 16:00 o'clock

        

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Sources :
http://www.cdep.ro/pls/cic/site.visits?idv=2&idl=EN
http://web.archive.org/web/20060219232635/http://www.fantasypieces.org/files/Research/CasaPoporului.pdf
google maps
wikipedia commons -pics
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