My photos barely capture the enormity of this palace,  the second largest administrative building in the world (behind the US Pentagon).  Intended to be the, “heart of the Romanian people,” its construction displaced 40.000 people and more than 20.000 workers spent 13 years building the 350.000m2 palace.

Just about everything in the palace seemed out of proportion, with 20 meter high ceilings and 250kg velvet curtains, 1.000 rooms and more than 3.500 tons of crystal in the chandeliers, and so on. Shall we tour?

Our tour lasted two hours and covered a mere kilometer of the palace.  This is one of the main salons; I took the photo at what might be the “50 yard line,” if you will, to help provide a sense of the scope (and of what is to come!)

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Quite possibly the saddest Christmas tree I have ever seen. Somehow, though, in its grand but incomplete state it seemed a fitting metaphor for the palace.

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The 700-(leather) seat theater with its 2-ton chandelier. Nope, I’m not making this up.

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In order to have carpets large enough for the rooms, the pattern was copied by craftswomen across Romania who created panels, and then the panels were sewn together. In the right lighting the panel differences could be seen.

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This room was identified as the, “Human Rights Room,” for its use of a round table to make everyone “equal.”  I did not ask our guide, but I have to assume this room was named post-revolution.

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(Just) one of the corridors between sections of the palace.

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The Grand Ballroom, 150 meters long and 80 meters wide. It is now used for New Year’s Eve and charity parties.

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From the Grand Ballroom one can access the balcony, overlooking Bulevardul Unirii (Boulevard of Unity) and modeled after the Champs Elyseè, and just a tiny bid longer. I am sure Parisians are jealous.

It was from this balcony that Ceaușescu intended to give a unifying speech to Romanians; we know how that ended. The first person to actually give a speech on the balcony was Michael Jackson, who visited in 1992. Seeing the crowds, he walked out and said, “Hello, Budapest!”  Not making that one up, either.

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Our tour concluded with a brief visit to part of the basement, with an odd collection of Communism leftovers of Ceaușescu’s reign.

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The building is now officially the, “Palace of the Parliament,” as both houses have offices here. Though, having been designed and built by the Romanian people, using Romanian materials and traditional craftsmanship, it is truly a Palace of the People.