A guided tour of Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. Old-fashioned hospitality in the communist D
Wednesday 11 May 2016
A couple of years ago, I was visiting Bucharest when a local friend took me on a tour of an abandoned building complex known as the Palace of the Press.
Built in the early 20th century, the first building had served as the headquarters for one of the leading Romanian newspapers – a famously left-wing, anti-monarchist paper, that was popular amongst the country’s would-be socialists.
Decades later, after Romania underwent its socialist revolution, this building would absorb neighbouring properties to become one sprawling media complex, with many of the nation’s top newspapers all working together under one roof. It became known as the Palace of the Press. Critics however, suggested that this kind of localisation made it easier for the Party to keep control over all its media outlets at once… and in time people started referring to the place, sarcastically, as the ‘Palace of Truth.’
Abandoned now for over twenty years, the buildings are looking a little worse for wear. Gutted press rooms open onto a debris-strewn courtyard; printing offices lie derelict, while the bomb-shelter beneath the premises has partially collapsed. Amidst the wreckage though, regal architectural flourishes hint at a bygone era when the original building on this site still deserved the title of palace.
The Exclusion Zone.
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