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Thread by @RexValachorum: "A Wonderful Socialist Life Part III : The People's House To read the previous episodes: go here for Part II go here for Part I Quiz: The Pen […]"

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A Wonderful Socialist Life Part III : The People's House

To read the previous episodes:
go here for Part II
go here for Part I
Quiz: The Pentagon building in Washington DC is the largest building in the world.
Do you know where is the second largest in the world (and also the world's heaviest?)
Anybody guessing?
It's The People's Palace (Palatul Poporului) in Bucharest, Romania. You probably had no idea, didn't you?
Built at the apogee of the socialist regime, the building consumed 40% of Romania's GDP between 1983-1989. Yes, you read that right: 40% of the country's GDP for 6 years
Now wonder we Romanian were starving, there were no money left in the State budget for food, other goods or healthcare.
To make room for this monstrosity in the middle of Bucharest, Ceausescu razed entire neighborhoods in the historical center of the city.
Many of the buildings and the churches he demolished were of priceless historical importance; one of them built in 1918 by by a famous French architect was the home where my maternal grandmother was living at the time
I was an eye witness when the bulldozers started tearing down the walls of the Brancovenesc hospital, Romania's oldest hospital in existence and a historical architectural landmark
Built in 1838 for the city poor it survived the German artillery shelling in WWI and allied bombings in WWII only to be turned to rubble in 1984. By a one in a million chance I was waiting at the bus station when the demolition started and I remember people watching and crying
Here is a list of the churches turned to rubble to make room for People's Monstrosity (partial list)
-The Postavari White Church, attested in existence in 1595; at 420 year old it was the second oldest in Bucharest,
built 181 years before the American Revolution, 25 years before Mayflower
-Cotroceni church, built between 1679-1682. Turned to rubble after 302 years. In this church was located the printing press where the first Bible in Romanian language was printed
-St. Nicolae Jitnița church, built 1590
-Pantelimon Monastery church, built 1745
-Văcărești Monastery, built 1716, largest monastery in all South-East Europe
-Spirea Veche Church, built 1740
-St. Nicolae Crîngași church, built 1564
-St Nicolae Sirbi church built, 1692
-St. Vineri Herasca church, built 1641
Back to the (socialist) People's Palace:
At the time the socialist regime was overthrown the building was still in construction. There are 1,100 rooms of which only 400 and 2 large halls are in used today by Romania's democratically elected Parliament.
The rest are just sitting empty because nobody found a way to make a use of them.
For the next couple of tweets I will post two pics side by side, first from the People's Palace built for the Party elite, second from regular working class people's dwellings built during the era
The People's Palace has 12 floors plus 8 levels underground, 84 acres of floor space and an unknown number of secret escape tunnels. The entire building is naturally ventilated, no A/C. Socialist Romania was green before green movement was trendy in the West
There are 480 crystal chandeliers in the palace, some of them have 7,000 bulbs each. For decorations they used 3,500 tons of crystal, 1 million square meters of marble, 900,000 square meters of wood essences, 220,000 square meters of carpet, 3,500 square meters of calf skin.
All the materials used to build it were obtained domestically - the wood, the crystal, the marble, you name it. There was no cheaping out on on inferior products like granite or glass. 400 architects had drawn the plans and the chief architect was a 28 year old woman.
According to some historians over 160 construction workers died in work related accidents while working on this building. Urban legends say most of them were "accidented" while on the underground tunnels built for Ceausescu's planned escape
And now that you already seen how wonderful living conditions in socialism used to be, let's see how awful capitalism is, after my misguided generation decided to abandon and discard the socialist utopia
Of course not everyone can afford to buy a new apartment in a new building, and the majority of Romanians still live in the socialist era dwellings, but things are starting to look up.
So my dear Bernie bro socialist millenials, please tell me where would you rather live? In a capitalist built and owned apartment building or in a socialist one?
It is estimated Romania will need more than 70 years to get rid of all the socialist era eyesores in which people live in apartments the size of a shoe box.
Socialism ended 28 years ago but its legacy will still be visible in the urban landscape for another two generations
Stay tuned for another episode of A Wonderful Socialist Life coming in 2-3 days

To read the previous episodes:
go here for Part II
go here for Part I
And a Romanian movie night for you. Enjoy!
Part IV of "A beautiful Socialist Life" posted here
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