Megalomaniac monument

The world’s second-largest building after the Pentagon, Romania’s Casa Poporului or People’s House is impossible to miss. Palatul Parlamentului, which now houses the Romanian Parliament, the Museum of Contemporary Art and a conference centre, is an imposing edifice built in 1984 by the then-ruling dictator Nicholae Ceauşescu with 12 storeys and 3,100 rooms over an area of 330,000 square metres that dominates the central Bucharest area.

Around 20 percent of Bucharest’s historic city was knocked down to accommodate the giant administrative building leaving only the old Lipscani quarter intact. Still unfinished, the Palace of the Parliament was initially the object of controversy and hatred among Romanians who were living in poverty. The rumoured €3.3 billion edifice, known as Republic House, served to stroke the ego of the country’s dictator and hospitals and industry suffered as a result. After the 1989 Romanian Revolution overthrowing the Communist regime, the fate of the palace was in the hands of the people who decided to rename it as the People’s House.

Guided 45-minute tours will get you into the building to see a few of the marble halls and galleries decorated with monumental sculptures, gilded embellishments, laced ceilings and rich brocades, carpets and tapestries. Crystal chandeliers, dark mahogany timbers and reflective marble complete the excess and these locally sourced materials also serve to showcase the natural wealth of the Romania. You’ll also get to see grand staircases, the sweeping terrace that the late Ceauşescu never got to speak from, a panoramic view from the roof and also explore the underground areas of the building.

Tour times are subject to parliamentary sittings, so it’s best to reserve a spot on a guided tour the day before you go. To get to Palace of the Parliament, the closest metro station is Piaţa Unrii.

Strada Izvor 2-4, Unrii, Bucharest, Romania, Europe

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