From Aviatorilor Metro Station, I crossed Dorobanti Way (Calea Dorobanților), walked a semicircle section through Charles de Gaulle Square (Piața Charles de Gaulle) and then took it to the Spring Boulevard (Bulevardul Primăverii). I walked a few hundred meters up to number 50, where the Spring Palace is, the former residence of Ceaușescu family. In their era, only some people could approach the “Spring Palace target”. Now, no one calls on you to cross to the other sidewalk, and you can even walk unhindered as an ordinary man to what was once the most guarded building in Romania.
» A bit of history «
In 1948, after the political power was taken over by the Communists, they imposed, according to the Soviet model, the law of nationalization. Among those who were confiscated then the property, there were also the owners of the villas in the Spring District (Cartierul Primăverii). They were forced to leave their homes that were taken by the state.
The Communist leader of that period, Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, decided that each of those with important positions in the Communist Party should receive a villa in Spring District, to live with their family. In this way, all of them were gathered in one place and could be easily supervised.
Since the 1950s, the new tenants have begun to move in turn, but their number has proven to be higher than that of villas, so it has been decided to build new mansions. From that period until December 1989, when the Ceaușescu regime was removed, more than 50 villas of Spring District were occupied by people in the nomenclature.
» From Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej to Nicolae Ceaușescu «
In 1965, three days after the death of Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, Nicolae Ceaușescu was appointed head of state of the Socialist Republic of Romania. He chose the Spring Palace as a future residence and asked the architects to modify the building in such a way as to please him and his wife. At the end of the works, the surface of the Spring Palace was twice as large as what was built for Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, because Elena Ceaușescu wanted, among others, that all three children have their own apartments.
Around the palace,
then there was a vast garden,
over 15,000 square meters,
landscaped by the landscape artists.
After 1989, this surface was divided
for different constructions
or was returned to the offspring
to those who had properties there
and were confiscated
on the establishment of communism.
» A tour through the palace «
My tour through Ceauşescu Mansion started at 12 o’clock. I arrived earlier, so I walked a little through the courtyard and took some pictures of the building – it did not seem to me a “palace”, but after the tour and the explanations of the guide, I realized again that sometimes what you think is different from what it really is.
I was in a small group, with four other people. I put on, like everyone else, the disposable shoe covers provided, and walked alongside my guide, Oana, into the mansion where Ceaușescu family lived.
We were at the cellar
and the cinema,
We walked through apartments,
living rooms, bedrooms.
We went through the winter garden,
with exotic plants,
and, for the end,
one of the most
impressive areas in the palace
– the swimming pool.
“It is an architectural masterpiece that surprises with its generous dimensions and its luxurious interior”, Oana said. The villa was designed and built by the Carpați Trust, which, during the communist era, was the largest civil engineering company in the Socialist Republic of Romania and, as a consequence, built all the important buildings at that time.
» Over 170 rooms «
The surface of the palace is nearly 5000 square meters. Downstairs and upstairs there are more than 80 rooms, of which, in the 45 minute-tour, we passed fairly quickly through almost 50. Underground, there are other dozens of buildings, namely 88.
Those who dealt with the arrangement of the palace for Ceaușescu family chose everything that was best and most refined at that time, said Oana, noting that almost everything – furniture, chandeliers, decorative objects – was made in Romania. In December 1989, when the regime of Ceaușescu was removed from power, many people entered the palace, destroyed and took many objects.
The architect employed by Ceaușescu couple used in the interior of the villa essences of native wood, such as oak, maple, cherry, walnut, and sometimes exotic – mahogany, rose, cherry or pearwood (African).
Inside the palace, there are Flemish old craftsmanship tapestries, silk carpets, impressive crystal chandeliers from Bohemia and Baccarat. There are also handmade African ivory sculptures, as well as porcelain vases from Sèvres and Delft, Rosenthal and Meissen.
» Dry wine and Western movies «
The cellar was among the first rooms we entered. It was a space for relaxing in a glass of wine – from the 80s, when he was diagnosed with diabetes, Nicolae Ceaușescu rarely drank and only a glass of dry wine, without sugar.
From the wine cellar, we entered the cinema – extremely spacious, although, as the guide said, Ceaușescu family never invited guest over. Here they were watching their favorite films and I learned that Nicolae Ceaușescu was selling himself after the American ones like the westerns.
ABOVE: In the cellar
ABOVE, LEFT:  Oana, guide to my tour
UP, RIGHT:  In the cellar
» Ceaușescu’s Gifts «
In his 24-year term as president, Nicolae Ceaușescu received over ten thousand gifts, either from presidents or from different personalities. The most valuable were given at that time, to the History Museum, and the rest were in the patrimony of the state.
A friend from Bucharest told me that, as a student in the ’80s, she went along with her class and their history teacher at the museum, and saw those gifts.
» Chess «
I liked the chess in the living room, another room where they relaxed – Oana said that Nicolae Ceaușescu often played chess and ordered especially the pieces of chess that were made in wood as the model of the Romanian peasant.
ABOVE: In one of the rooms
with specially ordered parts,
having as a model
the face of the Romanian peasant.
» Ceaușescu’s Office «
In the Spring Palace, Nicolae Ceaușescu also had a work office and often received guests from other countries. On the walls of Nicolae Ceaușescu’s office, there are paintings of Romanian painters, Gheorghe Patrascu, Octav Băncilă, Camil Ressu, Rudolf Cumpăna, Dumitru Ghiaţă.
» In apartments «
The furniture was made in different styles, depending on the rooms and the tastes of those who lived in there. Valentin Ceaușescu’s apartment was decorated in the Renaissance style, Zoia preferred Louis XVI style, and the late, Nicu, chose the English style. Each apartment has a generous surface and consists of a bedroom, a living room and a bathroom.
Elena Ceaușescu had a living room arranged for her, consisting of bedroom and living room, with Louis XV style furniture.
ABOVE: Valentin Ceaușescu’s apartment.
Valentin Ceaușescu is the eldest
and only surviving child
of former communist President
Nicolae Ceaușescu and his wife, Elena.
ABOVE: Nicu Ceaușescu’s apartment
ABOVE: The apartment where Zoia,
the only daughter
of Ceaușescu couple, lived.
ABOVE: Elena Ceaușescu’s living room
» Piano and porcelain «
In another living room, there is a piano (for decoration, no one was playing it), and on the table in the dining room, where they were dining, there is now a porcelain service, manufactured in Cluj, that Ceaușescu couple used. There is also a color television, made in the Netherlands (no, not in the Soviet Union!).
ABOVE: Living and dining room
» Ceaușescu and the loved dogs «
We also entered the bedroom of Nicolae and Elena Ceaușescu. Next to their bed there still was the couch on which Nicolae Ceaușescu’s favorite dogs slept.
The Labrador, called Corbu by Nicolae Ceaușescu, was received as a gift in 1978 from a British politician, and Șarona was the pair brought for Corbu. Oana did not know what happened to the two dogs after 1989, so I searched the Internet: some said they starved because they were fed only by Nicolae Ceaușescu and did not eat from anyone else. Others talked that Șarona had become a stray dog.
ABOVE: The bedroom
of Ceaușescu couple and the bathroom
which was said to have the taps
made of gold. They were not made of gold,
they were just brass plated
and got the yellow color, the guide explained.
» Winter Garden «
We went through dozens of rooms.
I did not have the time I would have wanted
to hang around more,
I got lost
from time to time
from the group,
because there was something that
I wanted to take pictures of
or look at.
It’s not a good idea to do this,
though it’s tempting,
because there’s a lot to see,
and you have to cram
a whole palace
in 45 minutes.
The winter garden includes green-house with a salon and a fountain decorated with mosaic, where there are even now various Mediterranean and exotic plants.
ABOVE: Winter Garden
from the Spring Palace
» Wardrobe «
In the palace, the room where Ceaușescu couple had their wardrobes were rearranged – there are not many things, they are known to have often worn the same clothing and footwear.
ABOVE: A generous space
for clothing and footwear
» Everything for them «
At the Spring Palace residence, the Ceaușescu spouses had everything they wanted, including a barbers’s and hairdresser’s salon, a sauna and a room for massage and various therapies.
ABOVE: Relaxation and care space
» Pool mosaic «
The pool is sensational. It has a size of 70 square meters and has been decorated around with mosaic. The two artists used more than a million pieces of mosaic, but they managed to complete that gigantic and elaborate work in just two years.
ABOVE: The swimming pool with walls
ornamented with mosaic.
Two artists worked
for two years.
» Peacock – one of Ceausescu’s favourite birds «
With the pool, the tour of Ceaușescu Mansion was over. I went out onto the terrace, in the garden behind the villa. There I photographed a peacock on the roof of the café – Oana showed me swiftly and told me that it was a descendant of the peacocks that Ceaușescu couple had.
ABOVE: In the middle image,
ABOVE: After the end of the
tour, I went out on the side
from the back of the villa. I passed
through a café – you can sit there for coffee, obviously –
then through a porch and I went out
again in the main court
of the Spring Palace.
A visit to the Spring Palace, the former residence of Ceaușescu family
» ESSENTIAL «
• The Spring Palace was never owned by Ceaușescu family. It was owned by the state and was administered through the Household of the Central Committee of the Romanian Communist Party.
• Inside, photos can be taken without flash. Filming is forbidden.
• The visit can only be done with a guide.
• In the palace Flemish old craftsmanship tapestries, silk carpets, impressive crystal chandeliers by Bohemia and Baccarat can be seen.
• Bucharest’s 5 most popular tourist attractions.
» miniGuide «
• To better understand what a communist regime is and how inhuman it is, I also recommend a visit to the Memorial of the Victims of Communism and Resistance, Sighetu Marmaţiei, Maramureş.
• Renovated and refurbished, the former residence of Ceaușescu family is opened to visitors since 2016.
• The building is managed by RA APPS (Autonomous Administration of Protocol and State Heritage).
• The Spring Palace was never owned by Ceaușescu family. It was owned by the state and, as required by the Soviet model, was administered by the Household of the Central Committee of the Romanian Communist Party.
• According to TripAdvisor, Spring Palace is among the top 5 tourist attractions in Bucharest.
Versiunea în limba română: O vizită la Palatul Primăverii, fosta reședință a familiei Ceaușescu