The Palace of Parliament, also known as the House of the People, is the world’s largest and heaviest civilian building with an administrative function and it can be seen in Bucharest, the Capital of Romania. Being so large, it is not hard to spot from the center of Bucharest (The Union Square).
The Palace of the Parliament is both a symbol of power in Romania as it is a reminder of the communist era. It was designed and nearly completed by the Ceaușescu regime as the seat of political and administrative power. The project has never been completed. That is why only a small part of this huge building can be visited by tourists.
Construction began in 1983 and the cornerstone was laid on 25 June 1984. Great sacrifices were done to build this giant construction. Building this Palace required demolishing much of Bucharest’s historic district, including 19 Orthodox Christian churches, six Jewish synagogues, three Protestant churches (plus eight relocated churches), and 30,000 residences.
The Palace of Parliament measures 270 m (890 ft) by 240 m (790 ft), 86 m (282 ft) high, and 92 m (302 ft) underground. It has 1,100 rooms, 2 underground parking garages and is 12 stories tall, with four underground levels currently available for the general public and in use, and another four in different stages of completion. The floorspace is 340,000 m2 (3,700,000 sq ft). The construction’s volume overtakes Keops Pyramid by 2%.
For its construction 200 architects and 20.000 workers worked 24 hours per day to complete the project. Many Romanian people don’t see this building as a symbol of greatness but rather as a reminder of communism, of an era when people were starving but billions of dollars were used to rise this Palace. Many also argue that this building, because of its impressive size, has a huge maintenance cost paid from the state’s budget.
The Palace of Parliament is a very crowded building by day, when the Romanian politicians are coming to work, but really creepy at night. Many guardians tell stories of haunting; objects moving around, weird noises, doors opening on their own.
The communist era was a time when people weren’t allowed to talk too much. The state business was only of the state and no citizen was allowed to talk about it. This is why only rumors speak of human sacrifices during the palace’s construction. The chief architect of the project speaks of some deaths but she insists that every time a tragedy happened there were severe repercussions for the ones coordinating the construction.
The tragic death of Anne and Stephan on the construction site of the Palace of Parliament
The most famous stories of “ghosts” walking on the hallways of the Palace are the ones of Ana (Anne) and Stefan (Stephan).
According to his own mother, Stephan was a young man (27 years old) that was assigned, in 1989, to work at The Palace’s construction. She says that her boy simply disappeared one day and he never came home. No answers were given to her by the communist authorities. She says that she found out on her own, by asking her son’s coworkers, that Stephan died buried into one wall of the building. His fellow workers stated that they had heard that one of his hands was still hanging out of the wall when another worker severed it with his shovel and covered the tracks. It is not known if his fall was accidental or foul play. No one could actually testify and prove that this tragedy has really ever happened but many guardians working at the Palace, in night shifts, have stated that the place is haunted by the never resting soul of this young man.
The girl in the floral summer dress
Anne was a young woman (21 years old) that was also hired at the construction site. The chief architect at that time testifies that she died in a tragic accident. She fell from a height of 16 meters and she died almost instantly. People say that, from time to time, the slim figure of a girl in a floral summer dress can be seen on the hallways of the Palace. People believe it is Anne’s spirit.
Historians also state that many people whose houses were demolished to make way for this huge building have committed suicide or suffered heart attacks. Before the great demolition, the communists offered to move those soon to be homeless people but many discovered that they were sent in decaying infested apartments. As they saw their houses demolished, one by one, many people went through a true drama that sometimes led them to desperate gestures.
Another urban legend of this Palace says that under this building, Nicolae Ceausescu ordered bunkers, secret passages for him to escape and even a personal subway line. No one knows what truly lies under this huge construction. Because it is the working place for the legislative apparatus, this piece of information is considered to be a state secret.
When, where, how much
The House of the People is located near the center of Bucharest on Calea 13 September Street. It is easy to spot.
The visiting hours are every day, from 10 AM to 4 AM. The ticket costs the equivalent of about 5 euros. The tours are made in groups with a guide.
It is very important that every tourist would have his ID card because there is a security check at the entrance. The duration of the tour is very variable, depending on the guide’s style. In average, a tour will last about an hour.