Parliament Palace (Palatul Poporului)0
The second-largest administrative building in the world (after the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.), this mega-palace has stirred controversy since its construction. Dictator from 1974 to 1989, Nicolae Ceausescu built this monument demanding that only materials native to Romania be used. The result is a heavy neo-classical exterior that matches an equally ostentatious interior. Some call it ugly; others call it gorgeous. Some appreciate it as an architectural achievement; others slam it as a lasting reminder of government corruption. Either way, it's worth you making your own visit to determine what the fuss is all about.
You can tour the colossal building, which dominates downtown Bucharest, for about 20 RON (or about $6 USD). Although you'll see less than a 10th of the palace on the 40- to 50-minute tour, previous travelers recommend strolling through the halls. English language tours are offered between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily. Be aware that you must make reservations to tour the palace. For more information, visit the Palace's conference website.
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#0 Bran Castle
Although this remarkable fortress has weathered centuries of war, poverty and multiple political empires, Bran Castle is most famous for being the assumed residence of Dracula. Vlad Tepes, the real-life inspiration for the fictional vampire, attacked the fortress several times and even conquered it once in 1459. This castle, which sits on the border of the Transylvania and Wallachia regions, has endured legal battles and state-seizures. It has changed hands between the Romanian royals and the government several times in the past hundred years.
Hopefully, the ownership issue was permanently resolved in 2009, when the royal family transformed the castle into a public museum. Now, you can tour the five floors of this ancient structure and its grounds. However, don't say yes right away. A TripAdvisor user criticizes, "This castle is just a line of tourists goin' in one door and out the other with little of interest." Less of a tourist trap is a village museum, also located on the premises. Near the castle gates, you'll also be able to load up on vampire gear and traditional Transylvanian snacks from local vendors.
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