There are few more ridiculous or loathed buildings in the world than Romania’s monstrous Palace of the Parliament, a marvellous mistake of human engineering so large that it can be seen from the moon.
Located in the capital city of Bucharest, this white elephant of a building is officially the heaviest in the world and at its peak had over 2 million people working across its construction.
The palace was the brainchild and eventual downfall of Romania’s last dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu, who forced his impoverished country to spend £3billion to build his vanity project causing mass starvation.
Fittingly, the despot would never see his ridiculous creation completed due to the 1989 Romanian revolution which saw him and his wife found guilty of genocide and shot against a wall.
When it was finally completed eight years later in 1997, the Palace of the Parliament had some truly grotesque statistics – let’s have a quick look at them, shall we?
Standing at a whopping 84 meters tall and 365,000 square metres wide, the building can lay claim to being the chubbiest skyscraper ever clumsily deposited onto concrete.
It has 23 different sections inside and over 1000 lavishly designed rooms though 70% of these are empty.
The cost of the electricity, lighting and heating in the building for one year is $6million – which is about the same as a small city.
During its 13-year construction, it is thought that millions of Romanians were in some way involved in its construction, whether in the designing and creation of its interior or actually working on the site.
But why on earth was a building as excessive as the palace ever commissioned in the first place?
As with so many tragedies, the fault lies with the delusions of one small man, in this case, Romania’s own communist despot Nicolae Ceaușescu.
After a 1971 trip to the freest of countries, North Korea, Ceaușescu was inspired by the perceived devoted compliance he saw in the citizens there and set out on a quest to replicate it in his homeland.
And following a 1977 earthquake that demolished much of Bucharest, the dictator had the very excuse he needed to create his utopian ideal of what Romanian communism could be.
After levelling an entire hill and destroying a series of ancient monasteries with forced labour, Ceaușescu was able to begin to form his bloated machinations.
In the intervening years between the start of construction and his deserved overthrow, Ceaușescu made a series of visits to the building site, on each occasion making a series of ridiculous requests.
On one occasion he decided a room that was completed had been done in the wrong style and that it should immediately be torn down and started again.
On another he arrived to inspect two marble pillars which he announced were irregular – one perfect pillar was ripped out and replaced.
But the palace wasn’t just for show, it was also intended to play a vital security function.
Paranoid Ceaușescu even made allowances for his own safety by painstakingly building into the designs to include a nuclear bunker and an absurd network of tunnels that ran from the palace to the airport so he could escape in an attack.
As it happens, he would never use them.
After the charming chancer ordered his army to fire on starving protesters who had been driven to desperation by his economic policies, Ceaușescu was arrested, tried and shot against a wall.
To stay up to date with all the latest news, make sure you sign up to one of our newsletters here.
When construction was finally finished eight years later, the Romanian Government weren’t quite sure what to do with their absurd palace.
Today it is home to the country’s government and hosts a series of museums – however, 70% of it lies empty.