Monday, November 21, 2005

Ceaucescu's Palace is Enormous!

As promised in this week's EuroQuest, a picture of the
The home of the Parliament and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Ceaucescu's Palace was built at the expense of the Romanian people. It is second only to the Pentagon in size. Strongman Nicolae Ceau┼čescu literally razed a quarter of the city to create the space to build it and the open square of the Centru Civic. He bled the country to fund it's construction. Here's what "The Free Dictionary" has to say:
"There was no marble to be had for tombstones, because it was all going to build the palace and the Centru Civic. By 1984, despite high crop yield and food production, food rationing was introduced on a wide scale (the government promoted it as "a means to reduce obesity" and "rational eating"). Bread, milk, butter, cooking oil, sugar, pork, beef, chicken, and in some places even potatoes were rationed in most of Romania by 1989, with rations being made smaller every year (by 1989, a person could legally buy only 10 eggs per month, half to one loaf of bread per day, depending on the place of residence, or 500 grams of any kind of meat. "

To say nothing of the tens of thousands who lost their homes. Interestingly, in a non scientific survey on the streets of Bucharest, I could find almost no one who disliked it. Romanians seem to be concious of it's attraction to foreigners and have come to embrace it.


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At 8:40 AM, Blogger Adam Daniel Mezei said...

JG, sorry, bubs, but I noticed a type thar towards the end -- but THAT'S NOT WHY I'M POSTING, toughguy.

Question --> as I've never been to Bucharest, I wonder what the lay is there close to the Palace? I recall seeing a very well-done flick (2002) called THE WILD DOGS by prominent Canadian director Thom Fitzgerald. If I'm not mistaken, there was a quick squizz there of the palace, and it was quite fast.

In it there be some assorted Roma and a bevvy of other scantily-clad female characters hanging out around it -- is it like the Museum of Culture in Warsaw (nice piece on this recent show -- but no need to recycle the Vincent/Vincent piece, shame on you! ;-) ) -- or does nothing stand beside it, alone and apart, free to stand sentinel in the wind, scaring the living be-jeezus out of peeps?

Curious to know, oh yes, curious I am.

At 12:27 PM, Blogger Jonathan Groubert said...

Well, I wasn't there at night, so I don't know if it's a hangout for ladies of the night. I didn't see any.
It's nothing like the museum of culture in Warsaw, also massive, but a very different design, and smaller.

The palace stands alone, atop a hill, surrounded by land, boulevards and big wall.

As for recycling pieces, we do it all the time on EQ. It keeps the show cheap and, as the program is also exported and rebroadcast by other stations, many listeners are hearing the piece for the first time anyway.

At 8:39 AM, Blogger Adam Daniel Mezei said...

JG -- re: RRR of the EQ...I think we can still be friends, given that I know your secret now.

But I don't really think that I liked the Vincent, Vincent piece...that's all I was really trying to convey...

At 2:33 PM, Blogger Hana said...

Jonathan, Hanka from Czech Republic asking here, great article about the Palace, but would be also interested in the Vincent/Vincent article Adam is referring to here, seems like it is no longer available on your site. Is it possible still to see it somewhere though?

Thank you in advance! Btw. just got to know about this site from Adam, like your articles, am getting new information from them - super!

At 12:47 PM, Blogger Jonathan Groubert said...

Hi Hana,

Welcome aboard!
The Vincent/Vincent piece is just on the radio version of the program and can be downloaded at the post from Monday, November 28, 2005 close to the top of the page.

At 3:35 AM, Anonymous chole said...

hey - i'm a little late to this story. but i do want to comment on your last statement about romanians embracing the people's palace. far from it. it is a source of embarassment for most. they grudgingly admit its attraction to foreigners but few are willing to venture inside it. most people seem to feel sadness for the people who died or who were displaced, anger at the ceausescu's for what they did to the country and despair because to many it is a symbol of past and continuing corruption.

while being an amazing building designed and built entirely by romanians with all romanian products, i believe many see it as a monument to absolute corruption, tyranny and unbelievable disregard for the population.

all that being said, i dragged every romanian friend i could to take the tour with me. only by embracing it will the sour memories be replaced.

btw - it is set on a small rise in bucharest (the only one) at the end of a long boulevard that ceasescu envisioned as a challenge to paris' champs-elysees. bucharest was once called the little paris of the east.

At 10:20 AM, Blogger Jonathan Groubert said...

Well, I'm pretty sure I said it was an unscientific survey. What's more, it seems clear if it were so unpopular, the government wouldn't have made so risky a move as to put the parliament there. While I'm sure there is resentment, I the evidence seems to suggest that the level of resentment is overstated. Also, in terms of tourism, most people know a good thing when they see it.

At 3:40 PM, Anonymous chole said...

actually, putting the parliament there fits with how i described people feel about the building. my experience was that most people think their politicians are corrupt, so why shouldn't they have offices in that memorial to excess?

but i'll agree with you to a point - not everyone feels that strongly. a lot of people don't give a darn but still don't like the building.

anyway, sometimes i think of the palatul as the family's crazy uncle. he's the wildly successful author of highly controversial books who is a raging drunk who can frequently be found dancing naked in public places. you love him. you're proud of him. but why won't he be someone/thing else?


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