Sep 012009

Versiune în română

This is the first time I’m taking part in Theme Day of the City Daily Photo community. Theme Day is a monthly event that happens the first day of every month, when all participating blogs will post a picture that relates to the theme day’s description. Today’s theme is Big. Click here to view thumbnails for all participants

I decided for a straighforward treatment of this theme and just photographed the biggest thing I could find in my city. I don’t know if you’ve heard but Bucharest holds the dubious record of having the biggest Parliament building in the world, which is also the second largest administrative building in the world after the Pentagon. It truly is as big as a dictator’s ego. Bucharest’s Palace of Parliament was built during the Ceauşescu’s regime and it was designed as the seat of his political power. He also intended to use the building as his personal residence. Construction began in 1984 and at the time of Ceauşescu’s death in 1989 it was not completely finished. He never got to move in.

The Palace of Parliament was and still is a controversial building. Some people think of it as shameful, an architectural horror while others are proud of its records and consider it the biggest tourist attraction in Bucharest. I tend to side with those who don’t like the building, which in my eyes represents the peak of Ceausescu’s megalomania. Many old beautiful buildings were demolished to make way for this pointlessly massive “house” (Parliament’s Palace used to be called The House of the People during the communist regime). To quote wikipedia, “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” were demolished to create the space necessary for this project. I remember a joke that was going around at the time: the boulevard that ends with the Parliament Palace was to be called “The Victory of Socialism”. The joke’s punchline was that in fact the name of the boulevard is “The Victory of Socialism against Bucharest”.

Unfortunatelly I read somewhere that this building is indeed the biggest tourist attraction in Bucharest. Seems like people like records of this sort. I visited the building once, when they opened it for public in 1990; I remember some huge rooms, the dimensions being so excessive that nothing else was noticeable. Today the building houses the Romanian Parliament, as well as the National Museum of Contemporary Art (MNAC) opened in 2004 inside the west wing. It can be visited by guided tours.

  8 Responses to “Theme Day: Big”

  1. Massive building. Wow.

  2. Amazing – and you've pretty much captured the essence of the stereotype of Bucharest associated with that era.
    I reckon there's plenty of palaces in "old Europe" that might give it a rival though!! The Hermitage in St Petersburg? Versailles? Le Louvre?

  3. That's a BIG parliament building! A BIG ego had it built! A BIG disaster so think about the destruction to make room for it! BIG, interesting idea for theme day, Andreea!

  4. Oh my gosh, "big" suddenly seems like too small a word to describe that thing — it's enormous!

    How awful to destroy so many historic buildings just to create it. But since Bucharest is stuck with it, I guess it has no choice but to make the most of the situation. I can understand why it would be such a huge tourist attraction.

  5. I'm sorry to confirm that probably this is the ONLY building I can recognize in Bucharest. Famous or infamous, beautiful or ugly, it is really BIG, so a perfect choice for Theme Day! Interesting post and great image.

  6. Happy Theme Day, it is beautiful first join of you.

    Beautiful white house.

    My Bangkok Through My Eyes!
    You Got A Posty

  7. Wow, that is an enormously BIG contribution for the theme day. I'm torn when it comes to megalomaniac architecture. Basically, I think we don't need architectural records but we cannot deny that the world would be less spectacular without them. I think of the pyramids of Egypt for example. In this particular case it is a shame that so many buildings have been demolished for this giant palace. On the other hand I have to admit that I'd love to visit it.

  8. Almost ten years ago I was not able to fit the building to the viewfinder of my fixed focal length compact film camera when I was standing as far as I could in the square in front of it…

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