When I had first posted my photos on social media of my visit to the House of Ceauşescu, I got mixed reviews after my Romanian-American friend re-posted them. The thoughts of some were upsetting, especially for her friends that had lived through Nicolae Ceauşescu’s dictatorship regime. My friend had explained that it was more informative for my visit as a tourist, on how he lived in comparison to the rest of the country. I fully understood the bitterness felt because I too was upset and astonished while visiting. Also to my friend’s point, it was very informative for me to understand Ceauşescu’s lavish lifestyle. It also added to educating myself on this regions former communistic past and how Eastern Europe/ the Balkans have evolved over the decades.
Nicolae Ceauşescu was a former Romanian communist politician and dictator, serving the Communist Party from 1965 to 1989. He was the second and last Communist leader of Romania, which ended during the Romanian Revolution in December 1989. It was part of the spread of anti-Communist and anti-Soviet uprisings of Eastern Europe in that same year. He was overthrown and excecuted on December 25, 1989 several days after attempting escape by helicopter. Both Nicolae and his wife, Elena, were tried and convicted of genocide and economic sabotage. They were then sentenced to death and immediately executed by firing squad.
Through the stories I had read and been told by others who lived during his dictatorship, it all came full circle when I visited the House of Ceauşescu. It connected all the dots for me and saw why he and his wife were tried and executed. It boiled down to while Ceauşescu lived in lavish luxury, his country’s people were impoverished, starving and killed. One of the guides who worked at at House of Ceauşescu mentioned that all the stories of old Romania were true, where people huddled around wrapped in blankets and she was one of them. She also mentioned that she had moved to America and had recently returned, where she was now working as a guide at Ceauşescu’s home. She was amazed at how life can come full circle.
The Ceauşescu Mansion was the private residence for Nicolae, his wife Elena and their three children. It was constructed in the mid-1960’s with additions made between 1970 and 1972. At the time this residence in Bucharest was known as the ‘Spring Palace’, as it is located on Primaverii Street (Spring Street).
The home’s interior and exterior have been beautifully preserved, as well as the Ceauşescu’s ‘fashionable for the time’ wardrobe which still hang neatly in their closets.
During the palace’s renovation after the 1989 Romanian Revolution, pictures from inside were aired on TV. From what people had told me the emotions behind the photos were a mixed bag of amazement, anger and resentment. Almost everything was made of gold as well as the bathroom fixtures. The gold bathroom was what I had heard of repeatedly by Romanians, and it was definite sight when I had seen it with my own eyes. The amount of golden materials used in the home is the reason for its popular culture name, “The Golden Palace”.
As for myself, I was intrigued by the marvelous mosaic tile work throughout the home. The bright jewel tones, turquoise blues and gold tile work shimmered in the sunlight. Plus, the attention to the design details of the mosaics was stunning.
At the end of the tour, there is an exhibition of Nicolae Ceausescu and his family all within the pool area. The indoor pool was drained and exhibition boards with clippings and photos are there for your information. Be sure to take note of the stunning oceanic theme tile work along the walls.
After the fall of communism and the removal of Ceausescu, the palace was primarily used as a VIP residence for visiting official delegates, foreign presidents and prime ministers. The current Romanian government thought of selling the palace since the maintenance was costly. In 2016, which was the year that I had visited it, Ceausescu Palace was opened as a museum. My visit to Romania was impeccable timing, as I caught the first year of the House of Ceausescu as a museum.
For visitor information, please visit – Ceausescu Manion Official Website
Travel is like knowledge- the more you have seen, the more you realize you haven’t seen…
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📸 All photos are taken by me and are my intellectual property – Trixie Navarre