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Palace of the Parliament, Bucharest, Romania

July 2nd, 2006 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

The Palace of the Parliament (Romanian: Palatul Parlamentului) in Bucharest, Romania is, with a floor area of 350,000 m², one of the world's largest buildings.

Its original name was the House of the People (Casa Poporului), but it was renamed (in the post-Communist era) as the Palace of the Parliament. However, to this day, many Romanians retain the old name and call it Casa Poporului.

It measures 270 m by 240 m, 86 m high, and 92 m under ground. It has 1,100 rooms and is 12 stories tall, with four additional underground levels currently available and in use, with another four in different stages of completion. Estimates of the materials used include one million cubic meters of marble from Transylvania, most from Ruşchiţa; 3,500 metric 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; 900,000 cubic meters of wood (over 95% domestic) for parquet and wainscotting, including walnut, oak, sweet cherry, elm, sycamore maple; 200,000 square meters 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. [1]

The structure combines elements and motifs from multiple recognized architectural styles, making its classification impossible for architectural critics. The building is constructed entirely of materials of Romanian origin; it is reported that during the latter years of construction, this building and the Centru Civic created such a massive demand for Romanian marble that tombstones throughout the country had to be made from other materials. Effectively, the building, due to its immense size, cuts the city into two—an urban planner's nightmare. Constructing the Palace and the Centru Civic required demolishing about one-fifth of the historic districts of Bucharest. The neighborhoods and churches that were razed to make way for the behemoth are remembered to this day.

Built on the site of a hill variously known as Spirii Hill, Uranus Hill, or Arsenal Hill, which was largely razed for the project, the building anchors the west end of Unirii Boulevard and the Centru Civic. Construction began in 1984. The building was originally to be known as the House of the Republic (Casa Republicii) and was intended to serve as headquarters for all the major state institutions. However, the project was just nearing completion at the time of Nicolae Ceauşescu's 1989 overthrow and execution.

Since 1994, the building has housed Romania's Chamber of Deputies that had previously been housed in the Palace of the Patriarchy; the Romanian Senate joined them there in 2004, having previously been housed in the former Communist Party Central Committee building. The Palace also contains a massive array of miscellaneous conference halls, salons, etc., used for a wide variety of other purposes.

In 2003-2004 a glass annex was built, alongside external elevators. This was done to facilitate access to the National Museum of Contemporary Art (MNAC) opened in 2004 inside the west wing of the Palace of the Parliament, and to the Museum and Park of Totalitarianism and Socialist Realism, also opened in 2004. Another project concerning a huge, expensive flag was rejected following public outcry in 2004.

The cafeteria for use of the legislators has been refurbished recently, alongside the addition of a swimming pool, sauna and sports facilities at basement 1.

Also in the building is the headquarters of the Southeast European Cooperative Initiative (SECI), an organization focused on regional cooperation among governments against transborder crime.

Parts of the building (some of the west wing, some of the east wing, parts of the second floor, basement 3 and everything below) are yet to be completed. Currently, a new underground parking lot is being built inside a former stadium, currently used as a warehouse, which was covered during the construction of the palace. Tunnels linking 13 Septembrie Avenue with the basement of the building will be built.

There are public tours organized in a number of languages.

(Source: Wikipedia)

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