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Visiting The Parliament Palace of Bucharest- The Heaviest Building In The World

Visiting The Parliament Palace of Bucharest- The Heaviest Building In The World

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Traveling is often about discovering some of the most unique creations of humankind. When traveling, many people like to discover the biggest, tallest, smallest, etc. thing in the world. In some of our past articles, we have covered some fascinating travel curiosities, such as the largest castles in the world, the largest mosques in the worldthe highest town in the world. In this post, we’ll cover the heaviest building in the world and teach you everything there is to know about it, including its history, location, construction, interesting facts, technical details, how to visit it, and much more!

But first things first…

Which Is The Heaviest Building In The World?

bucharest palace of the parliament

You might expect that the heaviest building in the world is located somewhere in the Middle East, or perhaps the US or Japan but that’s not the case. The Palace of Parliament in Bucharest, also known as the House of the Republic is officially the heaviest building in the world. This might come as a surprise but this palace is actually heavier than The One World Trade Center, the Pyramid of Khufu, The NASA Vehicle Assembly Building, and the Great Mosque of Mecca.

If you’re thinking of traveling to Romania, visiting the Parliament should be at the top of your list. The building is home to the Romanian Senate, the Chambers of Deputies, and is also the headquarters of SECI (the Southeast European Corporative Initiative). As you might assume, building such a large building costs a lot and Romania isn’t one of the richest countries in the world which is why this building is one of the most controversial construction projects ever completed in Romania.

Background

bucharest parliament palace

Throughout human history, people always used glorious building projects to showcase their power (the most recent examples include the Twin Towers in Malaysia, the Burj Kalifa of Dubai, the Tokyo Skytree, etc.). The completion of such projects throughout the years served to show that a country is wealthy and prosperous enough to afford such a project and that it has the appropriate technology, materials, and resources to complete such an endeavor.

However, in Romania’s case, the country had neither of these things. During Ceaucescu’s rule, Romania was one of the poorest and most authoritarian countries in the Eastern Bloc. That’s why many people were not happy when Ceaucescu decided to build a king-like palace in the heart of the country’s capital. But despite this, the construction of the building was completed and today, Romania can say that it’s home to one of the most extravagant and expensive buildings in the history of humankind.

How It All Began?

heaviest building in the world

Surprisingly, the story of the heaviest building in the world begins in Pyongyang, North Korea. Romania’s communist leader, Nicolae Ceaucescu visited the communist nation of North Korea in 1971. According to written sources, he was inspired by the local architecture and he was so infatuated with it that he decided to re-create some of it back in his homeland.

A few years later (1977), Bucharest experienced a very severe earthquake that damaged dozens of important buildings and this was a perfect chance for Ceaucescu to start mimicking some of North Korea’s totalitarian architectural style. The whole construction project was named “Project Bucharest” and the heart of the project was the new House of the Republic that aimed to make people feel even smaller while making the power of the Romanian Communist Party appear much greater than it actually was.   

The Construction

bucharest parliament

It took the authorities seven years after the earthquake to start the construction. For this purpose, the remnants of the damaged and destroyed buildings in the area had to be removed, and more than 40,000 people had to be relocated before the construction started. The plan of the house was designed by Romanian architect Anca Petrescu, who had a team of 700 junior architects working on the project.

The construction finally began on June 25, 1984. The final project featured combined elements and motifs from a handful of different architectural styles and the final product was an impressive but unusual building with an indefinable style that was supposed to fit with Ceaucescu’s attempts of buildings his crazy personality cult.

According to estimates, more than 30,000 workers worked on building the palace (many of them worked both, day and night). The Romanian government also increased its debt to finance the construction expenses and this added an additional financial burden to an already poor country.

To make things even worse, to repay the loans, Romania had to increase its export. However, since the country was not a major industrial power at the time, most of its exports consisted of agricultural products. And the only way to export more agricultural products from a poor country is to take the food away from your own people who were already living in poverty. To make things even worse, workers on the building worked in inhumane conditions and many of them even died onsite.

Reading about these things, it’s not surprising that Ceaucescu ended up the way he did (he and his entire family were executed by a gathering of soldiers after they were convicted of an illegal gathering of wealth and genocide by the National Salvation Front.

What’s The Building Made Of?

heaviest building in the world bucharest

During the construction, the workers used mostly materials and objects manufactured in Romania. To complete this project, they used roughly 2 million tons of sand, 700,000 tons of steel and bronze, 500,000 tons of cement, close to 4,000 tons of crystal, 1 million cubic meters of marble, 0.9 million cubic meters of wood essence. For the interior, they also used 220,000 square meters of carpet and 4,000 square meters of skin for decorating. Between 30,000 and 100,000 workers worked on the building, most of which were ‘voluntary workers’ and forced labor from the army. The final cost of building the heaviest building in today’s money is around €4 billion euros (the sum is adjusted for inflation).

A Few More Details

bucharest parliament inside

The Palace of Parliament in Bucharest has underground tunnels that stretch up to 20 kilometers in length and connect the building to other important buildings, and eight underground levels, with the lowest one being a nuclear bunker (that’s also linked to the tunnels). This bunker consists of the main hall and several residential apartments and is protected by concrete walls that are 1.5 meters (5 feet) thick and are impervious to radiation.

In total, the floor area of the palace covers 365,000 square meters (3.54 million square feet) which makes it the third-largest administrative building behind the Pentagon and the Sappaya-Sapasathan in Bangkok. However, what the palace lacks in size, it makes up in weight. The Palace weighs 4.1 tons and is so heavy that every year, it sinks 5-6 millimeters (0.25 inches) into the ground due to its sheer weight.

Location

parliament bucharest

The heaviest building in the world lies in the center of Bucharest atop of Dealul Arsenalului (Spirea’s Hill), ringed by Izvor Street to the west and northwest, at the west end of Union Boulevard, north of United Nations Avenue, east of Liberty Avenue, and south of Calea 13 Septembrie.  

Interesting Facts

inside bucharest parliament
  • With a floor area of 360,000 square meters, the Palace of the Romanian Parliament is the largest administrative building for civilian use in the world.
  • The palace measures 270 meters by 240 meters in width x length, is 86 meters high and has 92 meters underground.
  • There are 1,100 rooms and 12 floors with 4 levels underground that are being used and 4 more levels in different stages of completion.
  • The palace has a parking lot big enough to fit 20,000 cars.
  • In addition to being the heaviest building in the world, the palace is also one of the most massive buildings in terms of volume. It measures 2,550,000 cubic meters (90,000,000 cubic feet), which means it’s even larger than the Great Pyramid of Giza.
  • The total costs for cooling, heating, and electricity in a year equal roughly 6 million euros!
  • Interestingly, the building was never finished. Only 400 of the building’s 1,100 rooms have been completed. The construction stopped after Ceaucescu was executed.
  • Pretty much all of the materials used for the construction were of Romanian origin. The only exception was the doors of the main hall which were a gift from Mobutu Sese Seko, the President of the Republic of Zaire (today’s DR Congo).
  • The building is also the world’s most expensive building, according to the World Record Academy. It’s currently valued at roughly €4 billion euros.
  • Inside the palace, there are many conference halls, salons, etc. that can be used for holding different kinds of events, including the Union Hall. This is the largest room in the building which also features a sliding glass ceiling strong enough to support the weight of an average helicopter.
  • This hall was home to the (so-far) largest NATO summit held in April 2008 that housed heads of states/governments from 26 NATO member countries and aspiring member countries. It was the largest event of such kind that ever took place in Romania.
  • The Palace weighs 4.1 tons and is so heavy that every year, it sinks 5-6 millimeters (0.25 inches) into the ground due to its sheer weight.

Popular Culture References

palace of parliament bucharest

The Palace of the Parliament was featured in several famous movies, including The Nun (2018), War Dogs (2016), Dying of the Light (2014), What About Love (2022), Toni Erdmann (2016), Amen. (2002), In Blue (2017), The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu (2010), I Feel Good (2018), Lost and Found (I) (2005), and it also appeared in an episode of Top Gear in 2009 titled “Romanian GT Road Trip to Find the Transfagarasan Highway” which we also mention in our list of the most dangerous roads in the world.

Tours

parliament bucharest

Touring the Palace of the Parliament is a wonderful experience and fortunately, there are many tours in several different languages that provide this experience. However, if you plan to visit, note that you need to have a passport or an ID in order to get a visitor’s badge. In this section, we’ll mention a few high-quality tours of the heaviest building in the world that will make your experience even better.  

Firstly, if you would like to explore on your own and don’t want to hire a guide, I recommend you pre-book this skip-the-line entrance. You’d get 15% off for using our affiliate link. If you want to take a guided tour and still get a skip-the-line entrance, I recommend this tour. Alternatively, if you’re a fan of history and would like to learn even more about this building and some of the other communist buildings in Bucharest, you’ll love this 3-Hour Guided Tour of Communist Bucharest or this Bucharest Communist Tour that also includes visiting the Ceausescu Residence (visiting the Parliament is included in both tours).

Were you surprised to learn that the Romanian parliament is the heaviest building in the world? Did you ever visit this place or would like to visit? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

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