Visiting the Bucharest Parliament, the second largest administrative building in the world
I’ll forgive you for not knowing that the Palace of Parliament in Bucharest, Romania, is the second largest administrative building in the world. In fact, I even challenge you to name the largest administrative building in the world (the answer is at the bottom of this post if you are interested).
However, the Palace of the Parliament also gets to boast being the most expensive administrative building ever built (more on that later), and the heaviest building in the world.
But facts are fact, and title or no titles, it’s impossible denying that the Palace of the Parliament is absolutely massive on every scale.
Found in the heart of Bucharest, the Palace of the Parliament is perched atop a slight hill, but whichever way you look at it from it dominates the surrounding skyline and eyeline, so much so that even my wide angle lens struggled to fit it all into frame.
Luckily for me, the palace is one of the top things to do in Bucharest, so obviously I was very keen to check it out for myself. I had heard so many great things about this place, so I couldn’t wait to see what the hype was all about.
Getting tickets to the Palace of the Parliament
There are three types of ticket you can purchase, and these are:
- Full tour (palace, terrace and underground) – 45 lei (approximately €9)
- Palace and terrace – 35 lei (approximately €7)
- Standard tour (just the palace) – 25 lei (approximately €5)
However, from walking around and until they clamp down on it, they are all one and the same tour. You still get to see everything on a standard tour, so just buy that ticket and save yourself the money. Also, a photography ticket is an extra 30 lei (approximately €6), but again, no one checks this, so just play dumb and take photos anyway.
As soon as you step into the reception area of the palace, you may start to wonder what all the fuss is about, but this small and ordinary-looking room only seems to heighten the sense of anticipation of what lies within the depths of the building.
As you walk up the stairs and through a couple of rooms, you’ll start to notice the sheer size and grandeur of the palace.
Construction began in 1984 under President Nicolae Ceaușescu’s communst regime and it was intended to have all four major state institutions housed within it – the presidency of the republic, the great national assembly, the council of ministers of the socialist republic of Romania, and the supreme court.
When Ceaușescu was overthrown and subsequently executed in the 1989 revolution, the new leaders of Romania started referring to the building as the ‘House of Ceaușescu’ to highlight the excessive luxury in which Ceaușescu would have lived in stark contrast to the squalor and poverty endured by many people living in Romania at the time.
Whichever way you look at it, the facts and numbers are just astounding.
Tell me the facts! Tell me the numbers!
The Palace of the Parliament measures 270 metres by 240 metres, creating 340,000 square metres of total floor space. In relative terms, that’s about 48 football pitches side by side. Add in a height of 86 metres and 92 metres underground and you’ve got yourself a behemoth of a building.
It has 1,100 rooms, two underground parking garages, four underground levels, and is 12 stories tall.
The majority of all the materials used in the construction were originally from Romania, including the 3,500 tonnes of crystal used for the 480 chandeliers. Also, approximately 700,000 tonnes of steel and bronze were used on the monumental windows and doors alone.
All of this adds up. Even though no one knows quite how much this all cost, it has been estimated at somewhere between three to four billion Euros.
Walking around the Palace of the Parliament, it is easy to believe that. Even though I only covered about 6% of the palace, its opulence was on a scale I haven’t seen anywhere in Eastern Europe. In fact, you’d be hard pushed to find a building like the Palace of the Parliament anywhere in the world.
One thing is for certain though; seeing it with your own eyes is a must on any visit to Bucharest.
Oh, by the way, the largest administrative building in the world is the Pentagon in the United States. Give yourself a pat on the back if you got it right.