Palace of the Parliament

The Palace of the Parliament (Romanian: Palatul Parlamentului), also known as the Republic's House (Casa Republicii) or People's House (Casa Poporului), is the seat of the Parliament of Romania, located atop Dealul Spirii in Bucharest, the national capital. The Palace reaches a height of 84 metres (276 ft), has a floor area of 365,000 square metres (3,930,000 sq ft) and a volume of 2,550,000 cubic metres (90,000,000 cu ft). The Palace of the Parliament is the heaviest building in the world, weighing about 4,098,500,000 kilograms (9.04 billion pounds; 4.10 million tonnes).[1]

Palace of the Parliament
Palatul Parlamentului
Former names"House of the Republic"
Alternative names"The People's House"
General information
Architectural styleTotalitarian, neoclassical
AddressCalea 13 Septembrie 1, Sector 5
Town or cityBucharest
CountryRomania
Coordinates44°25′39″N 26°5′15″E
Groundbreaking25 June 1984
Completed1997
Cost€4 billion euros
Height
Architectural84 m (276 ft)
Technical details
Size240 m (790 ft) long, 270 m (890 ft) wide
Floor count12
Floor area365,000 m2 (3,930,000 sq ft)
Grounds66,000 m2
Design and construction
Architect700 architects under the direction of chief architect Anca Petrescu (1949–2013)
Designations
  • World's largest civilian building with an administrative function
  • World's most expensive administrative building
  • World's heaviest building
Other information
Number of rooms1,100

The building was designed and supervised by chief architect Anca Petrescu, with a team of approximately 700 architects, and constructed over a period of 13 years (198497) in Socialist realist and modernist Neoclassical architectural forms and styles,[2] with socialist realism in mind.[3] The Palace was ordered by Nicolae Ceaușescu (19181989), the president of Communist Romania and the second of two long-ruling heads of state in the country since World War II,[4] during a period in which the personality cult of political worship and adoration increased considerably for him and his family.[5]

Known for its ornate interior composed of 23 sections, the palace houses the two houses of the Parliament of Romania: the Senate (Senat) and the Chamber of Deputies (Camera Deputaților), along with three museums and an international conference center. The museums in the Palace are the National Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Communist Totalitarianism (established in 2015)[6] and the Museum of the Palace. Though originally named the House of the Republic when under construction (Romanian: Casa Republicii), the palace became widely known as The People's House (Romanian: Casa Poporului) after the Romanian Revolution of December 1989. Due to its impressive characteristics, events organized by state institutions and international bodies such as conferences and symposia take place there, but despite this about 70% of the building remains empty.[7][8]

As of 2020, the Palace of the Parliament is valued at €4 billion making it the most expensive administrative building in the world.[9] The cost of heating, electricity and lighting alone exceeds $6 million per year, comparable to the total cost of powering a medium-sized city.[10]

Location

The Palace is in Sector 5 in the central part of Bucharest, at the top of Dealul Spirii (Spirea's Hill), also known as Dealul Arsenalului (Arsenal Hill). It is at the west end of the 3.5-kilometre (2.2 mi) Bulevardul Unirii (Union Boulevard), constructed at the same time as the Palace, and is ringed by Izvor Street to the west and northwest, United Nations Avenue to the north, Liberty Avenue to the east and Calea 13 Septembrie to the south.

History

Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu ordered the building of a colossal structure
View from the palace. For its construction, the Uranus-Izvor neighborhood was demolished.[11]

The construction of the Palace of the Parliament was the most extreme expression of the systematization program imposed on Romania by Nicolae Ceaușescu. Systematization was a program of urban planning carried out by Ceaușescu, who was impressed by the societal organization and mass adulation he saw in North Korea's Juche ideology during his East Asia visit in 1971. Ceaușescu decided to implement similar policies in his country, with the stated goal of turning Romania into a "multilaterally developed socialist society".

A systematization project had existed since the 1930s (during the time of King Carol II) for the Unirii–Dealul Arsenalului area. The Vrancea earthquake of 4 March 1977 gave Ceaușescu a pretext to demolish parts of old Bucharest.[12] He wanted a civic center more in line with the country's political stance and started a reconstruction plan of Bucharest based on the socialist realism style.[3] The House of the Republic was the centrepiece of Ceaușescu's project. Named Project Bucharest, it began in 1978 as an intended replica of the North Korean capital, Pyongyang.

A contest was held and won by Anca Petrescu (1949–2013), who was appointed chief architect of the project at the age of 28. The team that coordinated the work was made up of 10 assisting architects, which supervised a further 700.[13] Construction of the palace began on 25 June 1984, and the inauguration of the work was attended by Ceaușescu, who also frequently inspected the site.

Uranus Hill was leveled so the building could be erected. The area had also been home to the National Archives, Mihai Vodă Monastery and other monasteries, Brâncovenesc Hospital,[14] as well as about 37 old factories and workshops.[15] Demolition in the Uranus area began in 1982. Approximately 7 square kilometres (2.7 sq mi) of the old city centre were demolished, with 40,000 people being relocated from the area.[16] The works were carried out with forced labour by soldiers, minimizing costs.[17]

Between 20,000 and 100,000 people worked on the site and project, operating in three shifts made up of 5,000 Romanian People's Army soldiers and huge numbers of "volunteers".[18]

In 1989, the building costs were estimated at US$1.75 billion, and in 2006 at US€3 billion. In 1990, Australian-born business and media magnate Rupert Murdoch tried to buy the building for US$1 billion, but his bid was rejected.[19]

After 1989

Since 1994, the palace has housed the lower house of the Romanian Parliament, the Chamber of Deputies, after its former seat, the Palace of the Chamber of Deputies (now the Palace of the Patriarchate), was donated by the State to the Romanian Orthodox Church. Since 2004, the upper house, the Senate of Romania, has also been housed in the Palace of the Parliament, after having left the former headquarters of the Central Committee of the Romanian Communist Party.

Six years after the palace's completion, between 2003 and 2004, a glass annex was built alongside the external elevators.[20] This was done to facilitate outside access to the National Museum of Contemporary Art, which opened in 2004 in the west wing of the palace. During the same period, a project aiming to hoist a huge flag was cancelled following public protests. A flag already hoisted outside the building was also removed after the protests.

A restaurant inside the palace, accessible only to politicians, was refurbished. Since 1998, the building has also housed an office for the Regional Southeast European Cooperative Initiative (SECI) Centre for Fighting Transborder Crime.[21]

In 2008, the Palace hosted the 20th summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. In 2010, politician Silviu Prigoană proposed re-purposing the building into a shopping centre and entertainment complex. Citing costs, Prigoană said that the Romanian Parliament should move to a new building, since they occupied only 30% of the massive palace. While the proposal sparked debate in Romania, politician Miron Mitrea dismissed the idea as a "joke".[22]

The palace has also been the background for several motorsports events, including the 2011 Drift Grand Prix Romania, which brought together professional drifters from all over Europe.[23]

Copyrights over the building's image

Although the Palace of the Parliament was financed from public funds and the architects did work for hire, after the death of chief architect Anca Petrescu, her heirs sued the Chamber of Deputies for using images of the iconic building without authorization. The chamber was accused of copyright infringement for selling photos and souvenirs depicting the building's image.[24] In other lawsuits, the heirs claimed violation of trademarks owned by the chief architect through the depiction of the palace from different angles.[25]

While legal experts state that no restrictions exist for tourists wishing to photograph the iconic building for non-commercial purposes,[25] Petrescu's heirs have clearly set out that any commercial use of the building's image is subject to a 2% royalty fee.[24] It is believed the situation could have been avoided if an agreement between the chief architect and the beneficiary (Romanian State) had addressed the intellectual property rights and Romania had implemented freedom of panorama, restricting the scope of copyright law in such cases.[25]

Technical details

Construction of the palace began in 1984 and was initially scheduled for completion in two years. The project was extended to 1990, but remains uncompleted to this day. Only two large meeting rooms and 400 others have been finished or are even being used, out of a total of 1,100.

The building has eight underground levels, the deepest housing a nuclear bunker, linked to main state institutions by 20 kilometres (12.4 mi) of tunnels.[26] Nicolae Ceaușescu feared nuclear war. The bunker is a room with 1.5-metre (4.9 ft) thick concrete walls said to be impervious to radiation. The shelter is composed of a main hall – headquarters which would have had telephone connections with all military units in Romania – and several residential apartments for state leadership, to be used in the event of war.

The palace's floor area of 365,000 square metres (3,930,000 sq ft) makes it the world's third-largest administrative building after the Pentagon outside of Washington, D.C. in the United States and the Sappaya-Sapasathan in Thailand. It is also among the most massive buildings in terms of volume, measuring 2,550,000 cubic metres (90,000,000 cu ft):[27] for comparison, the building exceeds by 2% the volume of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt,[28] leading some sources to label it "pharaonic".[29]

The Palace of the Parliament sinks 6 millimetres (0.24 in) each year due to its weight.[30] Romanian specialists who have analyzed the data have explained that the palace's massive weight is causing the layers of sediment below the building to settle.

Materials

The building was constructed almost entirely of materials of Romanian origin. Among the few exceptions are the doors of Nicolae Bălcescu Hall, received by Ceaușescu as a gift from his friend Mobutu Sese Seko, longtime authoritarian President of Zaire (today the Democratic Republic of the Congo).[31]

Among the materials are 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; 1,000,000 cubic metres (35,000,000 cu ft) of marble,[31] 900,000 cubic metres (32,000,000 cu ft) of wood[32] (over 95% domestic) for parquet and wainscotting, including walnut, oak, sweet cherry, elm, sycamore maple; 200,000 square metres (2,200,000 sq ft) of woolen carpets of various dimensions (machines had to be moved inside the building to weave some of the larger carpets); velvet and brocade curtains adorned with embroideries and passementeries in silver and gold.

See also

  • Seven Wonders of Romania

References

  1. "Heaviest building". Guinness World Records.
  2. "Anca Petrescu". 11 July 2018.
  3. "Vlad Bodogan: Architecture of oppression: an analyses of the socio-political implications behind the construction of Casa Scânteii". Pavilion Magazine. 11 July 2018.
  4. "Megalomania lui Ceaușescu: dorința de a merge pe sub București și povestea catacombelor secrete". 11 June 2018.
  5. "Se muncea, dar se și murea. Povești cutremurătoare de pe șantierele lui Ceaușescu". 11 July 2018.
  6. "Senatul a adoptat legea privind infiintarea Muzeului Totalitarismului Comunist. Academia Romana va intocmi si un raport de condamnare a comunismului". HotNews.ro. 22 September 2015.
  7. "Palatul Parlamentului, o emblema a Bucurestiului". Hotel-Bucuresti.com.
  8. John Malathronas (5 December 2014). "Palace of the damned dictator: On the trail of Ceausescu in Bucharest". CNN.
  9. "Casa Poporului – de trei ori în Cartea Recordurilor". Gândul. 4 April 2008.
  10. Andrei Pandele (September 2008). "Palatul Parlamentului din Casa Poporului". National Geographic România.
  11. Roxana Ruscior (21 August 2014). ""Ceauşima" – cum a fost demolat cartierul Uranus". Descoperă.ro.
  12. "Demolarea casei Grigore Cerkez după cutremurul din 1977". 11 July 2018.
  13. "De la Casa Poporului la Palatul Parlamentului. Istoria clădirii care a intrat de trei ori în Cartea Recordurilor". Digi24. 31 October 2013.
  14. "Spitalul Brâncovenesc nu trebuia să cadă!". Ziarul Ring. 22 February 2010.
  15. "Atunci si acum: Casa Poporului". Metropotam. 9 June 2009.
  16. "The Palace of the Parliament in Bucharest", Radio Netherlands Archives, 19 November 1997
  17. Ioan Popa (1992). Robi pe Uranus (I ed.). Humanitas. ISBN 973-28-0304-5.
  18. "Şantierele groazei. Cum s-au construit cu sânge mastodonţii doriţi de Ceauşescu: Casa Poporului, Canal, Transfăgărăşan şi Bicaz". 11 July 2018.
  19. "Detalii nestiute despre Casa Poporului, cea mai scumpa cladire administrativa din lume". Stirile Pro TV. 16 May 2013.
  20. Mariusz Czepczynski (June 2008). Cultural Landscapes of Post-Socialist Cities. Ashgate. ISBN 978-0-7546-7022-3.
  21. "South-East Europe Cooperative Initiative (SECI)". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia. Archived from the original on 2 November 2015.
  22. Matthew Day (4 February 2010). "Nicolae Ceausescu palace 'to be turned into shopping mall'". The Telegraph.
  23. "Guest Blog: Drift.ro>> Sideways in Romania's Capital – Speedhunters". Speedhunters. 29 October 2011. Retrieved 13 February 2018.
  24. "Bătălia pentru imaginea Palatului Parlamentului. Decizia luată de OSIM". Stirileprotv.ro. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  25. "Taking photos of the Palace of Parliament can be considered illegal". Pandects dpVUE. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  26. "Secretele Casei Poporului | "Ceauşescu voia să umble cu maşina pe sub București"". Libertatea. 21 February 2011.
  27. "La plimbare prin subsolul Casei Poporului". Adevărul. 26 March 2010.
  28. "Lucruri mai putin stiute despre Casa Poporului – cea mai mare cladire din Europa". Metropotam. 4 March 2015.
  29. "Casa Poporului". TravelWorld.ro.
  30. "Casa Poporului se scufundă în sol în fiecare an. Ce spun specialiştii despre acest "fenomen"". Gândul. 26 December 2014.
  31. "7 Amazing Facts about The Palace of The Parliament in Bucharest". YourAmazingPlaces.com.
  32. "Casa Poporului". Archived from the original on 8 December 2015.
  33. "VITROMETAN, locul unde 2 ani s-a lucrat la candelabrele din Casa Poporului. De la moda peştelui din sticlă colorată aşezat pe mileul de pe televizor la planul pentru supravieţuire". Mediafax. 26 March 2013.
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