i’ve wanted to visit Bucharest since i had a Romanian classmate in graduate school almost a decade ago (without whom i’m sure i would have failed statistics, read into that what you will) — and one of the top draws was the Palace of the Parliament. i’m not sure why.
my morbid fascination with life in communist times? my interest in large scale socialist structures? the sheer megalomania and craziness of Ceaușescu?
speaking of crazy, yes, it’s crazy big (the tour you go on covers only 5% of the building) and yes, it does look like an oversized insane asylum. well, at least to me.
originally envisaged as a building to house all of the country’s governing bodies, it was still not completed by the time of the revolution and Ceaușescu’s death in 1989. today it sits partially occupied primarily by the country’s parliament, a couple museums, and a conference center.
there doesn’t seem to be a published schedule of tours — the times on the website may or may not be correct, and not all tours are offered. i went on Tour 5 (main tour plus basement) at 10:45. the only other tour available was Tour 1 (main tour only). the terrace was closed “due to technical difficulties”, whatever those may be. if you’re really pressed for time you may wish to call ahead to make sure you’re not waiting around.
the entrance is on the north side, the gate just about at the middle of the building, on Bulevardul Natiunile Unite. be sure to bring your passport or some form of identification; you’ll exchange it for a visitor badge at the start of the tour and pick it up when you leave. also note that you will climb and descend several flights of stairs.
note the 30 lei (~$7.53) fee for taking pictures — unlike many places where you could theoretically get away without paying the fee (though i always pay, *smug*), you get a special badge that identifies you as an authorized photographer.
and the view from the balcony where Ceaușescu daydreamt of giving speeches to adoring fans in the plaza below (where the parking lot is now). well, except the only famous person to actually be up there was Michael Jackson, who famously said, “Hello Budapest!!!” (note this is erm, Bucharest.)