Bucharest is close to being one of my favourite cities. I really like the atmosphere. I like just getting lost in this wonderful city. In many ways there is an adventure around every corner. One of the thing I definably wanted to see was Nicolae Ceaușescu grand vision. The massive Casa Poporului. People’s house.
Ceaușescu was a simple man with very little education. He rose to be the president and surrounded himself with a personal cult. He won respect in west when he didn’t want to send troops to fight in Czechoslovakia 1968. But he was a brutal Dictator and his vision of grandeur made Romania one of the purest countries in the former East block.
I think he was very careful about his legacy. He wanted to leave something to remember him by. The Casa Poporului and Bulevardul Unirii are the best examples. The boulevard leading up the Casa is longer than Champs-Élysées in Paris. (3000 m) and there is nearly no shops and it ends blind at the Casa Poporului. To build this nearly 40 000 people was relocated and 7 sq. km of Bucharest was demolished. In retrospect this is just a waste. I think most Romanians would like to live without. It commemorates a difficult time in history and the building are to very little use. Here’s a view down the boulevard.
Casa Poporului is a massive building. According to Wiki it is only second to the Pentagon building in size. 365,000 m2 and a estimated weight of 4,098,500 Tons. Only 400 of the 1100 rooms are ready to use. The building is sinking 6 mm a year. It comes complete with eight underground levels, the last one being an antiatomic bunker, linked to the main state institutions by 20 km of catacombs.
Ceaușescu was a paranoid man. According to the guide, he did not want air-condition afraid of being gassed. This meant elaborate tube system leading oxygen from outside ventilating the Casa.
The inside of the Casa is beautiful made. Between 20,000 and 100,000 people worked on the site, sometimes operating in three shifts. Thousands of people died at the People’s House, some mention a figure of 3,000 people (Wiki).
It is kind of depressing to see this monument of one mans ambition to build his own legacy on the bodies of his own population. Self-promotion instead of the good of the people. Today it is a wall of shame of a chapter of the Romanian history most people a trying to forget.