Urban Reconstruction of Bucharest after the 1977 Earthquake

On March 22, 1977, Nicolae Ceaușescu decided on the urban reconstruction of Bucharest following the earthquake on March 4, 1977, which claimed the lives of 1570 people and severely damaged many buildings in the capital.

Despite receiving aid funds from abroad, the dictator decided to only superficially reinforce the damaged buildings, opting to save the money for investing in new projects reflecting communist ideology.

Did they renovate your block with “seismic plaster”?

Engineers tasked with inspecting buildings were forced to sign false documents claiming the good condition of buildings that were actually severely damaged by the earthquake. Thus, the myth of “seismic plaster” emerged – serious cracks in building structures were covered with plaster to superficially address the issue.

The secret police spread the myth of “seismic plaster” to reassure the population about another possible earthquake.

The Case of Engineer Gheorghe Ursu

Gheorghe Ursu was one of the few engineers who opposed this initiative. After his personal journal, in which he expressed thoughts against the regime, was discovered and handed over to the Secret Police by a colleague, the engineer was convicted and imprisoned. Gheorghe Ursu died in custody (1985), following the animalistic beatings inflicted by his tormentors.

The People’s House and Victory of Socialism Boulevard

Moreover, the earthquake of 1977 provided the dictator with the perfect opportunity to remodel the capital according to his whims.

It was decided to erect a new political-administrative center, the “Civic Center,” which was to be built in place of the old Bucharest neighborhoods, Uranus and Izvor. Construction began on the “People’s House” (today, the Palace of Parliament) and Victory of Socialism Boulevard (today, Unification Boulevard – the one with fountains) on about a third of the old city center.

How the Old Bucharest Slowly “Died”

Thus, over the following years, thousands of homes, old pre-war/interwar houses, and historic church-monuments were destroyed to make way for buildings in line with the dictator’s ideals and values – namely, the false idea of prosperity.

If you want to find out more about the communist regime in Romania, visit the Museum of Communism in Bucharest:


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