House of the People to some, Palace of the Parliament to others. Must-see landmark for all
The Palace of the Parliament is definitely on everyone’s check-list when in Bucharest. However, it is not the most tourist-friendly of the local highlights, so here are a few tips to help you plan well your visit of this humongous landmark.
Hosting the Romanian Parliament, the palace is still called by locals „The House of the People” – a rather quirky nickname from the Communist times. It’s probably best known for its astonishing records (Guinness Book Records):
- Second largest administrative building in the world, after the Pentagon
- In volume it’s the third biggest building in the world
- Also the heaviest building in the world! And… it’s the most expensive administrative building in the world
What is less known about is that a whole historic neighborhood disappeared under bulldozers to make way for this totalitarian building and the new Civic Center, a socialist neighborhood that was Ceaușescu’s vision. A dictator’s dream that many local would call „the city’s nightmare”. In spite of the conflicting opinions Romanians might have about this building, it is certainly a must-see of the city.
The Palace is open for visits and the tours take you to the main reception halls and conference rooms, all of them very richly decorated – tons of marble and crystal chandeliers!
To help you plan well and make the best of your visit of the Parliament, here is a list of practical info and local tip:
- The visit of the Parliament can only take place on guided tours with the Parliament’s guides. Most tours are in English (about 2 each hour), but tours in other languages can also be organized on request (French, Italian, German, Spanish etc.).
- For large groups or other languages besides English, make sure to make a reservation in advance at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Visiting hours vary depending on the season:
- March – October, daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (last tour at about 4.30 p.m.).
- November – February, daily 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (last tour at about 3.30 p.m.)
- Tours schedule. The final schedule of tours is established a day in advance and to find out the exact program and make a reservation you can call at 00 40 733 558 102. For more information on the rules for visitors, types of tours and pricing, please consult the official website of the Parliament: http://cic.cdep.ro/en/visiting/opening-hours-and-tariffs
- Passport/ID. An essential piece of information: for the tour each visitor is required to have a valid piece of identification: passport or a ID in original.
Driving license or any other document or copies are not accepted. Please double check for the passport before you leave for the visit of the Parliament!
The security procedure is similar to the one at airports, plus at the beginning of the visit you will leave your passport in exchange for a tag that you will hold on to during the tour. At the end of the visit, you will give back the tag and get back the passport.
- Price. The standard tour ticket costs 40 RON/person, reductions available for students. Photos with mobile are free of charge.
Tickets can be paid by card or in cash in Romanian currency (RON, also known as LEI).
- Restrooms: passing through the art exhibition space, where most of the time contemporary Romanian painting are on display.
- Souvenir shop: the small kiosk has a little collection of various souvenirs. There are larger and better options across the city, but if you are on the rush, it will do as well.
Regardless of your interest in souvenirs, you will still go in the souvenir shop: after first addressing the Reception Desk on the right where you will receive a little pre-ticket document, you will pay for the actual tickets in the souvenir shop after handing this document. An intricate and time-consuming procedure just like the communist bureaucracy: an authentic experience!
- Best selfie spot. It’s hard to fit all of this big House of the People in one picture. A panoramic usually works well, but you can also take a cool selfie from one of the sides of Constitution Square, the large square in front of the Parliament, where the Christmas Market and the big concerts take place. The pictures below were shot in Constitution Square.
After the tour: almost everybody who is human feels a bit tired and drained. To refill those batteries in a restaurant nearby (7-10 minutes walking), I have a couple of local recommendations:
- Social 1, modern international cuisine, lovely interior design reinterpreting certain elements popular in design in the socialist period. Restaurant location on Google Maps.
- Hanu Berarilor – Casa Soare, traditional Romanian cuisine. The restaurant is set in a historic building from the early 20th century, a beautiful example of neoromanian architecture and it has a great atmosphere in summer with outdoor seating. Location on map.
In the end, I will leave you with a quick tip: because of official events, the Parliament can often be closed throughout the year. In this case, an excellent alternative for communist heritage is the Spring Palace (Palatul Primăverii, former residence of the Ceaușescu family for 25 years).
Hope you enjoy Bucharest’s rich heritage, including the communist landmarks, about which you can find out more in our next posts.