The People’s Palace in Bucharest, also known as “The People’s House” or the more common “The Palace of The Parliament” was built in the 1980’s by the Romanian people. Still not completely finished, The People’s Palace was the vision of the country’s communist dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu.
A huge earthquake shook Bucharest in 1977, destroying many houses and killing some 1,500 people. This gave the dictator a pretext and incentive to redesign Romania’s capital and make it more “modern”. Inspired by the style and megalomania Ceausescu had seen in King-II Sung’s North Korea at the time, he decided to build one of the largest buildings in the world.
To do so, Ceausescu raised about a fifth of the old city center in Bucharest, destroying somewhere between 7000 to 9000 picturesque homes and almost thirty very old churches. More than 40,000 Romanian citizens were displaced from their homes and moved into apartment blocks, many of which didn’t even have electricity, running water or windows.
This sudden shift in population from houses to apartments was to mark the start of a new “plague” that would haunt Bucharest in the coming decades. Most of these people who lived in houses had dogs around their homes and as they were moved into apartments, many kept their dogs near their buildings or even abandoned them completely. This inevitably led Bucharest to be overrun by stray dogs several decades later.
The People’s Palace is 270 meters (885 ft.) by 240 m (787 ft.), 86 m (282 ft.) high, 92 m (301 ft.) underground, a total of 1,100 rooms and 12 stories tall with four additional underground levels currently available and in use (another four in different stages of completion). This makes it the second largest building in the world by surface – 340,000 m2 (3,700,000 sq ft) -, after the Pentagon in the United States.
It however is the heaviest building in the world according to the Guinness World Records. It contains 700,000 tonnes of steel and bronze, a million square feet of marble, 3500 tonnes of crystal and 900,000 square meters of wood. It was made to last for a thousand years, it seems.
It currently houses the Romanian Parliament but since the building is only 30% occupied, many of its rooms are abandoned or in disrepair. It is also a huge drain on resources, consuming as much energy in lighting and heating as a city of 250,000 inhabitants.
Many were thinking about changing it’s purpose and transforming it into a gigantic commercial building with malls, cinemas and other money-making objectives. Donald Trump came up with the idea of making it into the world’s largest casino with slot machines, black Jack, roulette tables and pretty hostesses.
Nobody has proposed however to make it into the largest university and cultural venue in the world, gathering all the smartest minds of the country into one place. It certainly has the rooms, amphitheaters and space required to do the job.