Romania Opens National Library in Communist-Era Building
Romania's new National Library opened its doors Monday in a monumental building in the capital city, more than 20 years after its foundations were laid under the communist regime.
"This is a superb transformation of grey, communist-era ruins," Prime Minister Mihai Razvan Ungureanu said during the opening ceremony.
The library lies in a district that the late communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu planned as a "celebration of socialism."
Shortly after Ceausescu was toppled in December 1989, works on several buildings, including the library, were halted because of the lack of funds.
But in 2009 the then center-right government borrowed more than 100 million euros from the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB) earmarked for completing the construction.
The concrete walls and 45-feet high columns were covered by a steel and glass structure giving the building a modern look.
"This was a tremendous financial, and not only, effort," Culture Minister Hunor Kelemen said.
"In the 21st century, the state cannot afford not to finance cultural projects," he added.
The impressive construction covering more than 160,000 square feet currently shelters some 750,000 works, 40 percent of which can be consulted.
On the long term, more than 12 million books will be stored in the library.