Sunday, May 29, 2016

Bucharest Parliament Palace

This Palace is really ostentatious (definition- vulgar or pretentious display; designed to impress or attract notice). During his Iron Curtain reign, one of Ceausescu's most extravagant displays of power was in the building of the Palace of Parliament, starting in 1984 and ending in 1989 when he was shot by a firing squad. 

It is the second largest building in the world, smaller only to the US Pentagon, and represents one of the most extravagant and expensive building projects in the history of mankind. 

Ceausescu even built his own Champs Elysees of Bucharest and deliberately designed to be 1 metre wider on each side and 6 metres longer than Paris' thoroughfare. 

He did all of this even though Romania was a relatively small country with a population of about 22 million people. To do this, Ceausescu had to take on enormous foreign debt and when he had to repay, he systematically starved the Romanian people, exporting all of the country's agricultural and industrial production. Food-rationing, gas electric and heating blackouts became everyday norms; people lived in squalor and poverty as the Ceausescu's themselves exhibited outrageous extravagance.

The specifics of this building are staggering:
- the building is 365,000 sq metres in floor space
- there are 1 million cubic metres of marble
- 700 architects were dedicated to this construction over the 5 years
- 20,000 workers were on the construction 24 hours per day from 1984 to 1989 
- the main chandelier weighs 5 tons, one of the biggest in the world. There are about 2,000 chandeliers of varying sizes throughout the structure

Of the 1,100 rooms built, only 400 rooms and two meeting rooms are finished and used. To this day, there is no appetite by the people to finish any more rooms or complete the construction. On a positive spin, it is being used by the Senate and the Lower House of Parliament, it houses three museums and is used as an international conference centre. Most recently, it's been used for movie settings.

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