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palace of the parliament buildings bucharest

Typically dictators do their best to reinforce their legacy while they’re in power and once they’re deposed everyone else tries to forget them. Even looking back at last year (a bad one to be a dictator indeed), statues are demolished and metro stations renamed while governments changed. The manic rule of Nicolae Ceaușescu is one many Romanians would like to forget, and even 23 years now after his execution, the topic of the Communist era seems touchier here than other former bloc nations.

bucharest streets nightSymbols are easier to erase than memories which is why they’re usually the quickest to go following a revolution – except when they happen to take up 2.55 million cubic meters. That’s the approximate size of the Palace of the Parliament building (Palatul Parlamentului) in Bucharest. The Palace of the Parliament Building is the heaviest administrative building in the world with excesses tipping the scales. 3,500,000 kilos of its weight alone is in crystal (less than 1/10th of 1% the palace’s total), found in over 475 chandeliers throughout a building originally built to house Ceaușescu’s political and administrative power absolute.

It’s extravagance even extends out to the massive boulevard leading up to the Palace of the Parliament; the space made by demolishing most of Bucharest’s historic district. Ironically the building was short of completion right after the 1989 revolution but already too massive to be practically removed. Rather, it’s been re-purposed to house the offices of the presidency, parliament, and other government officials in over 1,100 rooms.

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You’ll frequently hear in Bucharest that this is the second biggest building in the world; and when looking at it, that’s hardly unbelievable. Except that it’s not the second largest building, rather the second largest government building in the world, second only to the Pentagon in the United States. A gigantic as this building is (carpets had to be helicoptered in from the roof during construction), in terms of floor area the Palace of the Parliament is only the 60th biggest in the world. As for the largest, well, that title (in terms of floorspace) currently goes to the Abraj Al Bait Towers in Saudi Arabia.

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