Quick trip to Salzburg – Salt Fortress and Love Locks

Austria’s 4th largest city, birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, with an Altstadt (old city) listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997, Salzburg is probably one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.


Short History

The first settlements of Salzburg date all the way back to the Neolithic Age, and were merged into one city during the Roman Empire times.The city was named Salzburg, with means Salt Castle, honoring the barges carrying salt on the Salzach River, in the 8th century.

Salzburg, as the capital of one of the Austro-Hungarian territories, became, through time, home for a large number of Protestant emigrants and emigrants from regions of the Kingdom of Hungary, as refugees from the war.

Even if during the World War II, the bombing destroyed 7,600 houses and killed 550 inhabitants, the Baroque architecture was preserved and the city rebuilt, blossoming year after year.

The Hohensalzburg Castle

The High Salzburg Fortress, is located at an altitude of 506 m, on Festungsberg, a small hill situated in the heart of the city, which offers visitors probably the best view over Salzburg.


Measuring 250 m in length and 150 m in width, Hohensalzburg is one of the largest medieval castles in Europe.

The construction of the fortress, originally designed as a simple wooden fortification, began in 1077, under Archbishop Gebhard von Helfenstein, and was gradually expanded during the following centuries, until 1462, when the ring walls and towers were built, under Prince-Archbishop Burkhard II von Weißpriach.

Even if the main purpose of the fortification was protection, the only time it actually came under siege was during the German Peasants’ War, when in 1525, the townspeople tried to force Prince-Archbishop Matthäus Lang out of his position, but failed.

Hohensalzburg Castle

Nowadays, the castle, with various wings, chambers and a beautiful courtyard, is open to the public, and if you want to visit, you can get there either by cable car or by foot. As usual, I had to choose walking, so I can stop on the way, and admire the gorgeous view over the city. I must say, I wasn’t disappointed at all!

The Makartsteg Bridge – Locks and Love

Named after the 19th century painter Hans Makart, the bridge over the Salzach River is the most modern bridge in the city center, with 20,000 pedestrians crossing it everyday.

However, this is not what the bridge is so famous for. The fence of the bridge is covered in a sea of locks, brought there by lovers from all around the world, which are meant to declare their eternal love.

Makartsteg Bridge

Even if this is a bit cheesy for my taste, I must say I was impressed by the large number of locks. Also, I couldn’t help but wonder how does this work in case of a break-up. Do you go back there, jump in the river, look for the keys, find them (right … good luck with that) and get rid of the evidence? 🙂

Either way, the shop owners selling them, are very happy and thankful for all the couples who feel the need to write their names on fences (not sure what happened to the good old romantic dates where people brought knifes along and carve their names on trees).

With plenty Romanesque and Gothic Churches and Cathedrals, a perfect blend of baroque and classical modernism buildings and a beautiful contemporary architecture found in Salzburg’s old town, the city is definitely not lacking variety.

Regardless if you stop by to visit the historic center or the Alpine surroundings, Salzburg is full of culture, history and beauty, and ever since my first visit, it’s been on my top 5 favorite cities list.

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Cherry Blossoms in Spring

As a painter, my biggest inspiration is Mother Nature. It always has something beautiful to offer, all year round.

Spring finally arrived and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate it, than by painting a gorgeous cherry blossom tree, in a fresh mountain landscape.

Welcome back, Spring. I missed you!

cherry blossom

Contact me to buy an original painting or a very high quality reproduction on canvas 

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Barcelona – City of Color, Life and Gaudí

Barcelona, capital city of the autonomous community of Catalonia in Spain, is Europe’s Largest Metropolis on the Mediterranean coast, with a population of 1.6 million.

Short History – Two Legends, One Settlement

The origin of the earliest settlement of Barcelona is the subject of two legends. The first one claims the founding of the city was done by the mythological Hercules while the second legend attributes it to the historical Carthaginian Hamilcar Barca, who originally named the settlement Barcino.

Becoming a Roman military camp in 15 BC, the city minted its own coins and blossomed until it was sacked by the army of Almanzor when most of Barcelona’s population was either killed or enslaved. Barça continued on a down spiral when the great plague (1650–1654) halved the city’s population, all the way until the Napoleonic wars, when the city was even further affected.

Even with such a rough history, Barcelona managed to survive and prosper, becoming soon the second largest city in Spain.

Why Visit?

DSC_5840Full of color and life, Barcelona redefines the term ‘green’ as more than 10% of the city is covered by parks. The boulevards are also a mix to concrete and green, which helps keep the noise level low, and maintain the air quality.

Also, Barça is home of many buildings dating all the way back to the medieval times, which blend with the gorgeous Art Nouveau constructions, part of them already included in the UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.

La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia is a large Roman Catholic church designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. However, the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar was the first one who designed the church, and the construction began on March 19, 1882, following his vision. Only in 1883 Gaudí started working on the project, next to him, until March 18, 1883, when Villar retired from the project.

Although incomplete even nowadays (it is estimated that the completion of the project will happen around year 2026), the church is already part of UNESCO World Heritage Site, which attracts a large number of tourists, every year.

Casa Batlló

Another one of Gaudí’s masterpieces, Casa Batlló or Casa dels ossos (House of Bones as it’s known to the locals) is the result of a total restoration which took place in 1904 when a 1877 conventional house was transformed completely.

Gaudí used ceramics, stone and forged iron for the radical construction, which made the building be highly criticized for a design that broke all the laws of the city. In the in 1900s however, it was voted by the Barcelona City Council as one of the three best buildings of the year.

Casa Mila –  La Pedrera

La Pedrera (the stone quarry), the last civil work designed by Antoni Gaudí, built between the years 1906 and 1910, is also part of UNESCO World Heritage Site. With self-supporting stone facade and columns, twisting iron balconies and windows, this is another very controversial work of the famous architect.

Originally built for a married couple living in Barcelona, nowadays the building is the headquarters of Fundació Catalunya – La Pedrera which organizes a large range of cultural activities and exhibitions.

DSC_5871Cathedral of Santa Eulalia

La Seu, as it’s also called was constructed between the 13th and the 15th century, to honor Eulalia of Barcelona, a virgin martyr from during the Roman times in Barcelona. Nowadays, her body is still entombed in the cathedral’s crypt, and the building is the Gothic cathedral seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona.

The Beach

Even if the beach attracts so many tourists, it’s interesting to know there were no beaches in Barcelona until the year 1992, when the city hosted the Olympic Games, the main reason for transforming the city’s shoreline into a leisure area. According to both National Geographic and Discovery Channel, the beach was ranked number one in the list of the top ten city beaches in the world!

With a combination of perfect sand, luxurious yachts, bars and restaurants, the area is very inviting and full of life.

The Aquarium

Located in Port Vell harbor, the aquarium is home to 11,000 animals, representing 450 species, which live in 35 aquariums. All in all, during your visit, you are surrounded by 5,000,000 l of water. Pretty impressive, or what?

Among the tanks, the ocean tank for sharks is probably the most impressive, considering its size and capacity. However, the large number of beautiful species offer a wonderful experience, throughout the entire aquarium. 

All in all, Barcelona is a very colorful and happy city, combining perfectly various building styles, from medieval, to modern.

With a fresh cuisine, a positive vibe, a stunning architecture and a fascinating history, Barcelona makes you want to go back and experience more!

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What’s Your Excuse?

Every now and then our path in life blends, even if only for a short while, with the path of a few extraordinary individuals, which inspire us, and we keep in our mind forever. Today I was lucky enough to meet such a person, in the most unexpected place of all, at the gym.

Usually, the gym is the place where only a small percentage of the people subscribing are actually dedicated to working out, while the majority spend their time chatting, clicking pictures for various social networks, or sitting down complaining about how bad their muscles hurt, after the first 5 minutes of training. However, today I saw the most dedicated person working out, which got me thinking about my actions, and the actions of those around me.

A young man, with Down Syndrome, pushing against the mobility impairment, a problematic ankle, and very poor eyesight, got on the treadmill, completely dedicated to finishing his workout. Later on, he moved from one equipment to the other, not giving up, until he got the job done. To my surprise, he did a better job than most of us there!

I was so impressed and proud to see him going for what he wants, ignoring the physical limitations, and working together with his body, as a team, to become stronger.

Success-InspirationMy mind couldn’t help but think about those of us, who are lucky enough to be in good health, capable of pretty much any challenge, who choose to not go for what we want, who don’t step out of their comfort zone, who find excuses.

It’s always easier to say: ‘I can’t do that‘, instead of saying: ‘I don’t want to do that‘. Subconsciously, when someone can’t do something, we look at them with different eyes, than we look at a person who doesn’t want to do the same thing. Honesty is being punished, because the excuses are more powerful to the brain.

This is why we choose to say we can’t, sometimes even without trying, and we make excuses for ourselves. The excuses are so powerfully embedded into our brains, to such an extent, that our mind shifts into that powerful negative state, which determines you to fail. Telling yourself that it won’t happen, convincing yourself that you can’t do it, it will make it not happen.

And so, we make excuses for ourselves, we say no, we fail. We fail to get out of our comfort zone, we fail to try, we push away any chance to succeed, when actually, we only have to break the mental barriers we set ourselves.

And we see people who have to fight through physical and mental limitations, dreaming the dream, setting the goal, going out there, fight with themselves and the world, and achieving what they want. Their road to success is 10 times harder than the same road a healthy person has to take, and even so, they don’t quit. Why? Because they don’t have room for excuses. They don’t let limitations put them down, but they work with those limitations, and get where they have to go. Now, how powerful is that?

I believe such persons should be an inspiration for all of us, and their amazing journeys should make us realize WE CAN DO IT. There’s no such thing as ‘I can’t’, there’s only ‘I don’t want to’.

The biggest barrier between you and success, is yourself. Always yourself, no one and nothing else. Nothing can stop a determined person to reach the goal. Success, is in the end, only a state of mind. Our minds are such powerful tools that if we set them to ‘I can’t‘ or ‘I can‘, in the end, that’s going to be the outcome, so tell yourself as often as needed: ‘I CAN‘. If you want it, you can do it! It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it! Want it, dream it, do it!

What’s Your Excuse?

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Why I Write

As my life took a few crazy turns in the past few months,  I’ve been busier than ever, trying to readjust to the current situation and also to keep up with everything I want to do further on. I’m working on improving my programming skills which eats up most of my time, I have two books on the making which I had to postpone for now because of the lack of time (same happened to my painting projects), I try to be as active as possible on the blog, keep in touch with my friends from both here and abroad, stick to a strict exercise schedule, while dealing with a few flu episodes and other events which did their best to push me off track.

Considering all of this, I was asked a few times already, why do I still focus on other things as well, like writing, instead of focusing on something more useful, which will actually make me earn money.

After having a wonderful conversation with my dear blogger friend, Nihar, I’ve decided to write a few thoughts on why do I choose to write, and how do I see the return on such an investment.


I might be one of the weird types, but I take joy in the small things in life. I don’t need to earn or spend a lot in order to be happy, I don’t need to earn money from everything I do in order to feel successful and appreciated, and I definitely don’t believe earning can be resumed to money only. Those who only earn material things in life, are some of the poorest people I’ve seen.

So what does writing bring me?

Every time I write something, I learn more, I share more, I meet even more amazing people. If your passion is attached to materialistic gain, and you can’t see the beauty and joy in the simplicity of exchanging thoughts and experience, you will lose much more in life, than money can ever bring you.

For me writing is an investment much more valuable than words can describe. Nothing makes me happier than sending an idea out there and receiving messages, comments, emails from people thanking me for inspiring them and making their life better, and telling me how much they appreciate my work. This always brings tears of joy to my eyes! Also, seeing a blogger friend inspired by something I write, and posting an article about my thoughts, is some of the best payment around.

time to be a writerMy rewards comes from the simple things writing gives back: a smile, a thank you, a positive feedback, inspiration, appreciation, change, new friends and every single one of them, has the power to make me richer and richer inside.

Nothing money can buy will even enrich your spirit in such a beautiful way, as these intangible rewards can. Also, no other tool around can bring you in the center of so many talented, passionate and dedicated people, with whom you can start such meaningful conversations.

That considered, many thanks to all my readers for rewarding me everyday, in many wonderful ways. Starting my blog was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and yes, writing does pay, more than a regular job ever will. You just have to open your heart and feel the reward.

Venice – A quick trip to the Queen of the Adriatic

Venezia (also known as City of Water, City of Masks, City of Bridges, The Floating City or City of Canals), situated in North-Eastern Italy, is the world’s only pedestrian city, sited on a group of 117 small islands, separated by 177 water canals and linked by 409 beautiful bridges, which divide Venice into 6 districts, called Sestieri.


The absence of traffic, makes the city a pleasant experience, while you go back in time, through the narrow streets, between gorgeous last-century buildings.

DSC_5919Since the 1980’s, when the Carnival of Venice was revived, the city has become a major centre of conferences and festivals, attracting visitors from all over the world. The artistic and cultural side, combined with the numerous attractions such as St Mark’s Basilica, the Grand Canal, and the Piazza San Marco, turned the City of Masks into a top tourist destination, in the past decade.

Back in Time – Origins

Former capital city of the Republic of Venice, the name of ‘Venezia’ is derived from the ancient ‘Veneti’, the people who inhabited the region in the 10th century BC.


It it known that the original population of the City of Water consisted mainly of refugees from Roman cities near Venice, and lagoon fishermen, who were fleeing the Germanic and Hun invasions taking place in the region.

With the construction of ports, the city soon started dominating the Mediterranean Sea and became the most prosperous city in all of Europe, in the 13th century, trading extensively with the Byzantine Empire and the Muslim world. For short periods of time, it was conquered by Napoleon and also became part of the Austria-Hungary.

The Buildings

The buildings of The Floating City are constructed on alder trees wooden piles (known for their water resistance), the foundations rest on plates of limestone placed on top of the piles, while the buildings are made out of brick or stone. The piles sit on a layer sand and mud while the bottom part penetrate a much harder layer of compressed clay, which prevents the wood from degrading, as fast as it does on the top part.


DSC_5908If you expect to drive around the city, you’re going to have a hard time, as besides the main entrance road and railway located in the northern part of the city, transportation within Venice is done in the old fashioned way, by water or on foot.

The very famous luxurious gondola, decorated with velvet seats and Persian rugs, is mostly used nowadays by tourists or ceremonies. At the front of each gondola we find a large piece of metal called ‘ferro,’ (iron), which consists of six bars pointing forward representing the Sestieri of the city, and one that points backward representing the Giudecca (an island in the Venetian Lagoon, in northern Italy).

You can also use the vaporetti (water buses) and water taxis to get around the city.

My first choice was walking, in order to see as much as possible of the gorgeous city, and I must say, it was a very interesting experience. I got lost while moving down the narrow streets, following the arrows pointing to a certain location, when the arrows suddenly stopped appearing. As the city is not that big, and you can reach the other end, in a few hours, I managed to find my way around, eventually reaching Piata Di San Marco.

The funniest part was to end up a dead end street, and by this I don’t mean the traditional dead end street, we’re all used to, when you are surrounded by walls, but you reach a street which ends in a water canal, or in the sea. Quite a fascinating experience!

DSC_5948Also, I might have a reputation of having food taken away from me by different birds, on different occasions, but I never had this happen to me, to such an extent, ever before. You can’t really buy street food (especially if that food is called pizza), and eat peacefully on the street, unless you want to get attacked by pigeons. Yes, it really happens, and I couldn’t even tell them off, as they were so adorable 🙂 Sharing is caring, I suppose?!

The downside of Venice, in the warmer season, is the number of tourists, which increases every year, while the city becomes overcrowded, turning into a walking museum, as the narrow streets are jammed and impossible to walk on, without bumping into someone, or waiting in line to move forward.

All in all, Venezia offers a unique experience, and it’s a city definitely worth visiting.

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Begging – The Ugly Truth Behind The Ultimate Business

This is quite a delicate subject, but because of the image Romanians have abroad, especially in Europe, I’d like to clarify a few aspects for those who hate and blame, without knowing the true story behind the appearances.

I did my share of travel around Europe, and it happened a lot of times to have people walk away on me after they find out I’m from Romania. Even worse, I was asked what’s my real nationality, because I can’t be a Romanian, as Romanians are black?! Wait a minute … I can’t tell you how much those events hurt, but they did taught me something: ‘Do not judge people based on their nationality‘. Even better: ‘Do not judge at all’.

I know other groups, like Muslims, get identified often as terrorists, because of the acts of a few individuals. Same happens to us, as Romanians, but that just doesn’t apply to every individual coming from that group, and judging them in such a way, might make you lose the chance to meet unbelievable people, and in the end, it’s everyone’s loss …

Because of my image as a citizen of Romania, in the European space, I learned to adapt, first give people a chance to know me, and later tell me where I am from. Do this in reverse order, and some might decide that you are there to commit crimes, steal or beg and don’t want to have anything to do with you. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame people for hating most part of the population coming from my country. With all the crimes, and begging and not acting proper in a society, I also wouldn’t be very happy about having them around. However, what most Europeans don’t know is that we’re not all like that small percentage of people who do the damage, and the population of the country is divided into 2: Romanians and RRomanians (in translation: The Romani, Roma, or Gypsies, whichever term is more familiar).

beggarNo, not all Romanians are gypsies, and not all gypsies are Romanians. Also, not all Romanians are good people, as not all  gypsies are bad people.

With the economical situation in the country only getting worse, and less and less work places available, more and more people leave, to find a better paid job, somewhere in Europe. And no, Romanians don’t go abroad to beg or steal, but they go there to study or work, very hard, to provide for their families, left back in the country. Same do some gypsies leaving the country to beg and steal (not all gypsies do this, by the way), as the economical situation from abroad also gives them a chance to a better financial situation.

How Begging Really Works – The Ugly Truth

To be honest, I never gave money to beggars and I never will either, and this is not because I am a hateful, mean and selfish person, but I believe help comes from doing the exact opposite, as I know what happens behind the scenes, once you support such an ‘industry’. Also, I don’t believe you should have a bunch of babies and expect the society to raise them for you. It’s cruel towards the child, as you don’t give him any chance to a decent life and education, and is also not fair toward the hard working citizens. For most people, food doesn’t reach the table unless they work very very hard, and when you come from a not so rich family, you find the supporting their situation far away from moral.

I had a talk a few years back with a beggar, and he told me how much he earns, and I was in shock, as … it was double my salary back then! And I need to go to my job, and work hard everyday, sunrise to sunset, for those money. Money don’t come easy, at least to some people they don’t.

The number of kids such a couple have, go all the way to 10-12 or higher, depending on the bride’s age, which sometimes can be only 10-12 years of age, while the groom can be 40 years plus, or even older – illegal ‘marriages’, of course, as the legal age to get married, in Romania is 18, or 16, only with both parent’s approval. Even when the long hand of the law makes it into one of their villages, they all act like no one got married, no one has ever seen anything wrong, the police gets threatened and forced to leave. As the forces of the country are very underpaid, they don’t even believe it’s worth risking their lives for such a matter, so they leave, and the life of the new couple continues.

And the situation is even more severe than this, so I believe everyone should know about it, in order to put a stop to it.

OldBeggar1Oh, the good old Romanian joke with: ‘I have 7 brothers back home … ‘. The perfect begging line. However, you can’t just go on the street and beg. It doesn’t work like that, unless you want to get yourself murdered. There’s an entire network behind every begging person, and you beg for that network, with their approval. And they even make a line for you, which you have to say, all day long. If you don’t comply or perform, the consequences are violent and terrible.

As you might already know, for gypsies, the more kids, the better, because they use the babies as tools to touch your feelings so you provide. And you give money and food to a mother with a baby, or to a young child, and the food and money get taken away by the ‘daddy’ who waits around the corner in his Mercedes (typical car for the situation). It’s all a family business, a very extended family, that’s true.

A few years ago, I was in the subway, when 2 gypsy ladies (with 4 young kids and a toddler) took a sit, while the kids started begging around. I overheard, by mistake, their talk, and one said to the other: ‘Oh, this one is already 2 and a half, and he’s getting too old. I need to make another one fast.’. Business as usual … While a normal mothers would worry about the toddler’s first kindergarten day.

Sleeping babies? – Guess again!

Did you notice how suspiciously quiet the babies in the arms of the beggar are? No, the babies aren’t sleeping, but you have all the right to believe that. Let’s be honest, how do you make a baby/toddler sit still, in the same spot, and not get bored, a whole day? The babies aren’t sleeping but they are drugged! Yes, they give them drugs. Of course, a children’s body is not able to cope with such a shock and often dies, sometimes even during the ‘work schedule’. You might think that’s the end of the theater? No, the mother has to hold the dead child in her arms, until evening, as the rules of the game are as such.

Even worse, some go as far as mutilating themselves or their children, just to look a bit more impressive, so you will give away some extra cash, while others pretend having health problems or issues with their limbs, and get up and start running, at the end of the ‘work day’. The latter happened in front of one of my friends, who used to give money to a ‘handicapped’ boy, until one day, when a miracle happened, and she saw him get up and walk away, heading home, like any person would, after a day of work. Lesson learned, I suppose.

Why Begging Abroad?

Most of Romanians clued in on what’s going on, especially when you see the poor beggars driving Mercedes around the city (still dressed like the poorest people you’ve ever seen), and living in real palaces. Not houses, but palaces. Try to drive through one of their towns, and click pictures (it happened a while back to a reporter from UK, who barely made it out alive, after recording the reality of the houses they live in). Here’s how some of their houses look like, just so you understand where your money go to:


… And we don’t provide for their lifestyle anymore. Less and less people do. So, they leave, not only because Romanians are poor and can’t afford to give them stuff, but also because people got of sick of seeing so much laziness and abuse.

Again, this is not meant to sound racist or judgmental in any way, as some gypsies are hardworking people, and do provide for their families, and live normal lives. Such a situation makes them look bad as much as it makes us as Romanians look bad, and gets them as well as people like me, to be discriminated severely in the European society. And we’re all part of the problem, by supporting the wrong kind of behavior.

Still, people from abroad don’t know what’s really going on. Not yet. If you want to help the poor, go to a state institution or NGO dealing with supporting people in need. There you can volunteer or donate and get informed about what else you can do, to improve someone’s life. That’s the correct way to go about it, not by encouraging all of the above.

You have to power to stop the begging, the discrimination of all Romanians and the abuse! Next time you give money to help a poor mother with a child, or to a young child begging on the street, please think again about what’s the moral thing to do. Think about the cruelty and abuse behind the ‘business’. If you don’t encouraging such a behavior, it will stop and they will eventually have to look for a job, as all people do, and treat their kids as human beings, not as tools for making fortunes.

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Romanian Palace of Parliament – Construction Madness

During the communist era, the idolatrization of the leader wasn’t an option, but a must. And the more important the leader, the bigger the impact on the surroundings, as monuments and buildings were designed as a constant reminder of his power and greatness.

As Romania had its share of communist regime (1947-1989), the Palace of Parliament (People’s House) in Bucharest, Romania, is just another example of a building designed for this purpose.

Palatul_ParlamentuluiKnown as Nicolae Ceaușescu’s dream construction, the project started with wiping out a large section of the central city. Have you ever heard of the expression: “moving mountains“? Most likely it was invented during that time, as large amounts of soil were moved, in order to create an artificial hill, for the building to sit on.

More than 700 architects and over 20,000 workers were at the location, 24 hours a day, for five years, in order to bring the project to life. Unfortunately, for Ceaușescu, he didn’t get to see his dream come true, as he was assassinated before the People’s House was finished.

Absolutely enormous construction which had swallowed tens of billions of lei, while many Romanians experienced a period of severe privations. One impressive investment is the glass ceiling of the ballroom, which can open to allow a helicopter to land inside the building! Probably this is the reason why, the building wasn’t very popular among citizens, at the beginning.

Still not impressed? Wait until you read the following.

Crazy Facts

The Building is 9 stories high (with 9 underground floors – 92 m – the legend says Ceaușescu used the underground tunnels as an escape path – other legends say he’s still living in the underground nuclear bunker) and has 1000 rooms: 440 offices, over 30 ballrooms, 4 restaurants, 3 libraries, 2 underground parking and a concert hall. Just to give you a more precise idea of the size of the People’s House, all the walking I did in the building, through the years, when I took friends and colleagues from abroad to the Palace for a tour, and I saw only 5% of the entire construction. And still, after you’re done with the tour … your feet hurt.

Interesting enough, in the 1980s, when lit, the building consumed a day’s electricity supply for the whole of Bucharest in only 4 hours!

Also, something we don’t do anymore nowadays, all the materials used to build the Palace were obtained domestically: marble, glass, wood, crystal, all coming from the Romanian mountains and forests. The crystals were used for the 480 crystal chandeliers found in the palace, the rooms are decorated with gold, and only the carpet covering the floor of Union Hall weighs 14 tonnes!


The balcony from the image has a very funny story behind it. As the entire region was redesigned to fit the monstrosity (Ceausescu made sure that the street leading right up to the palace was constructed to be exactly 1 meter wider than the Champs Elysees in Paris – sorry France!), so were the apartment buildings surrounding the Palace, which are designed to amplify the sound coming from the balcony from which Ceaușescu planned to talked to the people. Because he never got the chance to use it, Michael Jackson is the only person who ever got the chance to speak to the Romanians from that balcony, during the famous embarrassing moment when he yelled: Hello, Budapest!‘ … (now, teleportation escalated quickly, as Budapest is all the way into Hungary, far far away 🙂 ).

According to the World Records Academy, the Palace is the world’s largest civilian building with an administrative function and the second largest building in the world after the Pentagon, in the United States. It’s also the most expensive administrative building and the heaviest building in the world. Taking about a record breaker!


View over Bucharest, from the top floor of the Palace of Parliament

Nowadays the construction is a multi-purpose building, containing both chambers of the Romanian Parliament. Most of the income comes from renting the ballrooms out for special events. Unfortunately, the cost of maintenance is so high, that the Palace barely manages to pay the staff and electricity, water and gas bills. Also, the largest part of the building is permanently empty, as it has no particular use. Still, the Palace of Parliament remains an impressive reminder of the past era.