The Palace of the Parliament was built by the order of communist leader Nicolae Ceaușescu during his ruling as President of Romania from 9 December 1967 – 22 December 1989.
The palace was designed by a 28 year old female chief architect, Anca Petrescu who led a team of over 700 architects to oversee the project.
Construction of the palace began in 1984 and despite that fact that a huge area of Bucharest was destroyed to make way for the building, Ceaușescu named it the People’s House (Casa Poporului) or the People’s Palace as it was known in English.
Ceaușescu’s communist regime collapsed in 1989 following the Romanian Revolution and he and his wife, Elena, the Deputy Prime Minister, were tried in court for genocide, damage to the national economy, and abuse of power to execute military actions against the Romanian people. They were found guilty of all charges and were immediately executed by a firing squad.
The palace wasn’t fully completed until 1997 but has been used since 1996 for both chambers of the Romanian Parliament.
When you approach The Palace of the Parliament it’s vast size becomes clear. The building covers an area of 3,700,000 sq ft, has around 1,100 rooms, is 12 stories tall and has a further 8 underground levels!
The tour of the palace is a must if you are visiting Bucharest. A huge sacrifice was made by the Romanian people for this building to exist, with thousands of homes destroyed, poverty of the nation and around 20,000 local workers involved in the construction.
Keeping the building in good condition now is incredibly expensive and the money raised from the guided tours supports that. A full tour of the palace costs around 10 EURO each (and an additional 8 EURO if you want to take photos) and this takes around an hour and a half. Of course, it would be impossible to see the whole palace in this short time, in fact you will only see about 5% of the building! However, you are shown some of the most impressive rooms in the building and taken out onto the main balcony where Ceaușescu had planned to address the people when completed (he was executed before he had the chance). The view over the Romanian Champs-Élysées is incredible and was a complete surprise for me as I had not realised that Bucharest was also known as ‘Little Paris!’. The tours are running throughout the day but you may have to wait for around 30 minutes for the next tour to begin when you arrive. Also, there’s no toilets available during the tour so you may want to use the rest-room before you get there!
For me the tour of the building was very interesting. I learned a lot about the communist regime in Romania and about the history and culture in general.
The palace has a sad story but it will serve as a great reminder for future generations of Romanians about the strength of their ancestors and they should be proud of what they have achieved.
The Palace of the Parliament is open for tours daily from 10am-4pm (last tour 3:30pm). You must leave your ID card or Passport with security to take part in the tour.