Palace of the Parliament

Bucharest, Romania | C.1984

Photo Credit: Gabriele Parisi

The heaviest building in the world tops the scales at 1.5 Billion pounds (~680,000,000* kg) of steel and bronze. But beyond its whopping measurements, the the Palace of Parliament’s origin is tied to a complex era in Romania’s history — one that weighed heavier on its country than any amount of material could.

During his regime in the 1980s, communist leader Nicolae Ceauşescu was impressed by an urban planning program he had seen in North Korea, and decided to implement a similar program in Romania – the Palace was intended to be its crown jewel. Ceauşescu held a design contest and architect Anca Petrescu was awarded the job, along with a team of more than 700 supporting architects.

Ceauşescu envisioned a monumental structure and in order to create his ideal palace, needed to level Uranus Hill on which it currently sits. Until that point, the Hill had been home to Romania’s National Archives, numerous monasteries, hospitals, and factories — all razed* to make way for the Palace.

As Ceauşescu poured more than $2 billion dollars into his dream Palace, the people of Romania were suffering with food shortages, blackouts, and gas cuts spurred by mismanaged economic policies. So, despite its palatial beauty and record-breaking scope, the Palace was never for the Romanian people at all. But it was not over.

During the Romanian Revolution, Ceauşescu fled as his government was overthrown. He & his wife were soon apprehended, tried, and sentenced to death – ultimately being executed by firing squad on Christmas Day in 1989. The Palace, however, still lives on as home to the Romanian Parliament. Since the Revolution, the Palace has become known as the People’s House — a symbolic renaming reminiscent of the time the Romanian people took back their country, and the Palace along with it.

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