Bucharest Civic Center

Built in the 1980s under the regime of Nicolae Ceausescu, Bucharest’s Civic Center is a typical example of urban grandeur. Centered around the Union Boulevard, a street similar in style to the Champs-Elysee (1 meter wider, in fact) that runs east-west, this corridor of massive socialist-realist apartment blocks and tree-lined sidewalks was meant to convey the awesome power of which the Socialist government of Romania was capable. Ceausescu was mainly inspired by his 1971 trip to North Korea, where he was impressed with the development under Kim-il Sung and his Juche ideology. The Civic Center is flanked on its east side by the Palace of Parliament, a super-massive structure that stands as the second largest building in the world after the Pentagon. On the west side of the Center lies the Victory of Socialism Plaza, a large three-way roundabout. The scale of construction was so massive, that significant portions of the historic neighborhoods of Uranus, Antim and Rahova neighborhoods were completely wiped off the map. This process displaced more than 40,000 residents, forcing them to move to more outlying portions of the city. There still lay significant portions of the Center that were never completed, as the regime had not the time nor the funds to complete this mega-project. The communist government of Romania fell in 1989, and no further progress was made.

Sources: Cantacuzino, Serban, and Tabacu, Gabriela. Bucurestiul Meu. Humanitas, 2016.

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