Casa Poporului: the story of the world’s heaviest building
„Casa Poporului”, rougly translated as „The People’s House” is the home of the Romanian Parliament, and perhaps the best known tourist attraction of Bucharest, our capital city. Though the people who built it are slowly fading from memory, the massive structure serves a reminder for what was accomplished through the sacrifaces of an entire nation during the communist regime of Nicolae Ceausescu.
Let’s look at the numbers first:
- Heavyweight champion with 1 milion cubic meters of marble, 700.000 tons of steel and bronze and 3.500 tones of crystal.
- Number 3 in the world by volume (2.55 million cubic meters)
- In the Top 10 largest buildings by usable area, with „only” 350.000 square meters, owing to the fact that, despite it’s size, it only have 12 above ground storeys, 4 completed underground levels, and a further 4 in various stages of completion.
- Exceeds the volume of Egypt’s Keops pyramid by 2%.
The place is also in the top 3 of the most impressive buildings in the world with hideous descriptions, but it is definitely deserving the label of being one of the 10 wonders of Bucharest.
The original name of the Palace of Parliament was the “House of the Republic” and was changed after the Romanian Revolution into “The People’s House” and eventually into the Palace of Parliament after it became the HQ of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate.
When the construction finally stopped in December 1989, over 20.000 workers were present of site. The construction took place under the approval of the architec Anca Petrescu, who stated in an interview:
We did not have any free days. You were not even allowed to think that you might be able to leave the project. Each day, 20.000 people working. There was no time to breathe. Always, always, technical documents.
Over 7000 rooms were designed and build by Anca, who lead a team of over 700 architects, without the assistance of any electronic systems, and drawing everything by hand.
Both civilian and military elements took part in the construction, as the building was also meant to serve as a refuge for Communist Party leaders in the event of a nuclear war, a role which it supposedly continues to serve even today, and as such, many design elements are still classified. There were even plans of building a subway line beneath the building, to connect it to the Baneasa Airport.
An electricity wasting powerhouse
In an article by Andrei Pandele published in September 2008 issue of National Geographic, the author stated that the central heating and lighting costs amount to over 6 million dollars per year, which puts it on part with the cost to hear and power a small city. This is owed in part to over 700 light bulbs powering the massive chandeliers found though most of the rooms, and the 18 oversized elevators which consume over 50kw/h, twice the amount of a regular elevator. No expense was spared with the door knobs either, which are valued at over 1000 euros each.
The construction was placed on what was then called „Dealul Spirii”, a hill in the center of the city, which exhibited 19 Orthodox Churches, 6 Jewish Synagogues and 3 Protestant Churches, in addition to over 30.000 residences, many of these buildings being historical monuments part of the „Old City”, now forever lost, and remembered only in the few pictures that survive until this day:
Cheapest restaurant in Bucharest
One of the cheapest restaurants in Bucharest is housed in the building, where a bowl of soup costs as little ast 3,15 Lei, less than 1 euro. The National Museum of Conteporary Art is also part of the Palace, it’s terrance offering one of the best views in Bucharest.
Though the sacrifices endured by our forebears were many, the building stands testament to what can be accomplished by our country, andis a great source of pride, especially for the newer generations. Travelers from across the globe have marvelled at the sheer scale and uncompromising opulence of the awe-inspiring structure, as it is, quite frankly, impossible to miss when visiting this part of the world.
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