During the 17th century, Dealul Mitropoliei (Metropolitanate's Hill), later Dealul Patriarhiei (Patriarchate's Hill), in Bucharest, was covered in grapevines owned by the country's voivodes (ruling princes), with others belonging to the Metropolitanate's monks. The idea of placing the seat of legislative power in the middle of a religious complex was not mere coincidence, but has its roots in customs of the period. According to these customs, the Metropolitan was ex-officio president of the boyars (noblemen), the only citizens with the right to vote, when assembled in formal session (divan). Moreover, it was necessary to have the seat of legislative power on the hill because by tradition, the Metropolitan could not leave his residence. Consequently, the practice of organizing legislative meetings at the Metropolitanate became entrenched, so that part of the monks' cells were transformed into a building that could accommodate official legislative sessions.
In 1881 the old building, which had housed the princely divan, was repaired and refurbished. To this structure, which originated in the modified monastic cells, was added an amphitheater similar to that which would soon be found in Berlin's Reichstag building. The amphitheater was large, well-decorated, spacious, and had two sets of private viewing boxes and a gallery. The deputies attended meetings in a session hall, seated in a semicircle; in front of them was a speaker's platform, to the right of which was the ministers' bench. The building was open for public visiting only at hours when the legislature was not meeting, following an agreement won by a bureaucrat working there. Romanian citizens could attend legislative sessions only if a deputy signed their entrance ticket; foreign citizens needed a signature from their country's embassy.
In 1907, the former princely divan building was replaced with the present-day palace; Dimitrie Maimarolu was the architect. The façade, done in a neo-classical style, is 80 m long. The imposing ground floor is dominated by the centre of the façade, the entrance area, detached and having a peristyle featuring six Ionic columns, the four in the center grouped as pairs.
The cupola, similar to that of the Romanian Athenaeum and located above the assembly hall, is raised, fitted with windows, and topped by an eagle; it forms the palace's central axis. The main façade has two side wings, architecturally subordinate to the entrance. The side façade, on the northeast, is symmetrical and its ordered style confers upon it an imposing status. It is decorated with pilasters on two levels, these being decorated and dominant on the sides. When seen from United Nations Street, the palace’s four levels can be observed. The first level has the appearance of a massive base and is made of stone; the second is powerfully carved; and above this is the level through which one enters the main façade, coming from the cathedral.
Infos from Wikipedia, images from www.patriarhia.ro
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