Palace of the Parliament

The Palace of the Parliament was originally called “House of the Republic” and it is the most spectacular Romanian project carried out under the dictatorship of Nicolae Ceauseșcu, and an important piece of Romanian history. The Palace of the Parliament was constructed between 1984 and 1997, and it dominates the city’s landscape due to its monumental dimensions. It is the largest administrative building in the world at 240 meters in length, 270 meters in width, and 84 meters tall. At the same time, it is the world’s second-largest after the Pentagon in terms of area. The Palace has 12 stories and 8 underground levels, the last one being an atomic bunker. One of Nicolae Ceaușescu’s fears was a nuclear war, so he had the bunker linked to the main state institutions through 20km of tunnels, as well as to several residential apartments. The bunker also had direct telephone communication with all military units in Romania. The Palace of the Parliament is also the heaviest building in the world, and due to its enormous dimensions, the building sinks by 6mm each year. After the Romanian Revolution in 1989, the Palace became widely known as “People’s House” or “People’s Palace”.

The construction of the People’s Palace was part of Nicolae Ceaușescu’s plan to rebuild Bucharest, named Project Bucharest. He developed it after the terrible earthquake in 1977, and it was intended to be a replica of Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. Ceaușescu visited China and North Korea in 1971, and he was very impressed by the cult of personality surrounding Mao Zedong and Kim Il-Sung. When the construction of the Palace of the Parliament started, between 20,000 and 100,000 people were appointed to the project, thousands of which have died, with some specialists estimating the numbers as high as 3,000. The building was designed by a team of 700 architects, under the direction of chief architect Anca Petrescu.

palace_of_parliament_bucharest
Palace of the Parliament. Photo by Mihai Petre

At the time it was built, the Palace was meant to symbolize the triumph of communism in Romania while being an emblematic home of the Ceausescu family – this is why all the rooms are oversized and hyper-ornate. In fact, its opulence and ostentatious décor make it the most expensive administrative building in the world, with an estimated value of over three billion euro. The events of December 1989, culminating with the overthrow of the communist regime, changed the destination of the People’s House, from a palace fit for a dictator-president into the seat of democratic government.

Today, the Palace of the Parliament is an administrative building that hosts the Parliament of Romania, with its Chamber of Deputies, the Palace of the Chamber of Deputies, and the Romanian Senate. The impressive building also houses the National Museum of Contemporary Art since 2004.

The building is also an important tourist attraction, as you can visit the Palace in guided tours while visiting Bucharest, or as part of a full-day Bucharest city your. This will give you a chance to discover more about the communist regime in Romania, as well as about the life of Nicolae Ceaușescu.

The Palace of the Parliament is also used for vibrant light shows during the iMapp competition or during the days of the city.

palace of the parliament light show

Interesting facts about Palace of the Parliament

  • At first, the Palace of Parliament was in fact named the “House of the Republic”. It was changed after the Romanian Revolution in 1989 into the “People’s House” and eventually into the Palace of the Parliament.
  • Only original Romanian materials were used in the construction and decoration of the Palace of the Parliament, except the doors of the Nicolae Balcescu Hall. The two doors are made from mahogany. They represent a valuable gift sent to Ceausescu by his friend, the African dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, at that time President of the Republic of Zaire.
  • The TV Show Top Gear’s Episode 1 of Series 14 features the Palace of the Parliament at the end of a sat-nav race through Bucharest between Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. After the end of the race, the three presenters are shown driving their cars through the tunnels beneath the Palace of the Parliament.
  • As the home of the Parliament, the Palace is run like a small city, with comparable costs.
  • The building is used by state institutions to organize events, conferences, symposia, but despite all this, almost 70% of the building remains empty at all times.

Visiting hours:

Open every day from 10.00 a.m. until 16.00 p.m.

Ticket Prices:

I. Standard Tour – 25 LEI/person.
II. Overview of the city – Terrace Tour (Access by Elevator) – 15 LEI/person.
III. Underground Tour (access only on stairs) – 10 LEI/person.
IV. Standard Tour + Overview of the city – Terrace (Upper Floor Access by Elevator) – 35 LEI/person.
V. Standard Tour + Underground (access only on stairs) – 30 LEI/person.
VI. Standard Tour + Overview of the city (Terrace) + Underground – 45 LEI/person.

Students
(age 18-26 years, with valid student ID card).
I. Standard Tour – 13 LEI/person.
II. Overview of the city – Terrace Tour (Access by Elevator) – 8 LEI/person.
III. Underground Tour (access only on stairs) – 5 LEI/person.
IV. Standard Tour + Overview of the city – Terrace (Upper Floor Access by Elevator) – 18 LEI/person.
V. Standard Tour + Underground (access only on stairs) – 15 LEI/person.
VI. Standard Tour + Overview of the city (Terrace) + Underground – 23 LEI/person.

Free admissions:
– children under 7, pupils under 18 (who have their pupil card on them).
– persons with disabilities (with documentary evidence) and accompanying person.
Wheelchair access: recommended – by prior arrangement.

Filming/Photography:
– Photo camera: 30 LEI
– Video camera: 30 LEI

Professional photo shooting: 100 EURO/hour.
Professional film shooting: 5000 EURO/hour.

Access: only with an identification document (identity card, passport).