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One Dictator's Obscene Grandiosity

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Europe's biggest building towers over the capital of one of its poorest countries -- in Bucharest, Romania. The mammoth Palace of the Parliament was built to be the palace of its dictator, Nicolae Ceaușescu. At almost 4 million square feet of floor space, it's the embodiment of corruption -- a physical example of what happens when the ideals of communism meet the cult of personality.

Traveling through countries that spent 45 years in what locals here call "the Soviet Club," it's fascinating to see how an ideology that preached "equality for all" bred megalomaniacs who pursued the "cult of personality." They built gigantic monuments that literally took bread out of the mouths of the workers who their ideology was supposed to serve.

This is Day 54 of my 100 Days in Europe series. As I research my guidebooks and make new TV shows, I'm reporting on my experiences and lessons learned in Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Bulgaria, Romania, and beyond. Find more at blog.ricksteves.com.