the third post about romania: remembering the colectiv nightclub fire

on october 30 of last year, a metalcore band named “goodbye to gravity” held a free concert at the colectiv nightclub in bucharest. somewhere between 200 and 400 concert-goers crammed into a space that was designed to hold 80 people and, in what was essentially a repeat of the 2003 station nightclub fire, the band set off pyrotechnics which ignited the (flammable) soundproofing material attached to the pillars and ceiling. the fire set off a stampede for the doors but there was only one working exit, and by the end of the evening, 26 people had died in the club from burns and smoke inhalation, and another 184 were injured in some way. victims had to be transferred to hospitals as far away as switzerland and israel because local hospitals could not handle the sudden flood of patients. over the following week, another 38 people died in the hospital, bringing the total fatality count to 64.

outrage over the official response to the disaster – the realization that romania did not have the hospital capacity to respond to the injuries and that local officials had ignored occupancy and fire safety violations – fueled already-existing anger over government corruption. huge protests began on november 3 to demand that the government resign, which it did the next day. mourners have gathered outside the complex in which the club was located on the 30th of each month since then to commemorate the disaster. (naturally, the police block access to the club site itself.)

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the second post about romania

(for anyone who didn’t see the first post about romania, read the previous post.)


this is a very long sidewalk – easily half a kilometer of unbroken pavement. what is it?

it is the façade of the palace of the parliament, romanian dictator nicolae ceaușescu’s “gift” to the people. (ironically, or perhaps not ironically at all, he was overthrown and executed before the building was completed.) some facts:

  • the palace of the parliament is the heaviest building in the world, the second-largest government administrative building in the world, and the third largest building in the world overall, with a height of 84 meters, a footprint of 365,000 square meters and a volume of 2,550,000 cubic meters.
  • it contains 1,100 rooms (only 400 of which are in use), including the senate, the chamber of deputies, the palace museum, and the museums of contemporary art and of communist totalitarianism.
  • according to engineers, it is sinking under its own weight, by 6mm per year.

at this rate, it will disappear completely in 14,000 years, so visit soon – but if you are a foreigner, don’t forget to bring your passport with you, or you won’t be able to get in; a simple id card isn’t enough – a fact that someone might have clarified in all the guide books and websites, thank you very much.

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press building, bucharest

The exterior is too big to photograph all at once.
the exterior is too big to photograph all at once.

the press building in bucharest, romania – today known as the house of the free press, or casa presei libere – was the home of romania’s communist era newspaper. presently it contains the offices of a variety of print media and social media organizations, small internet companies, at least one fashion atelier, and a lot of empty space.

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