The Romanian capital, cultural and economic center of the country, was founded more than five hundred years ago and is the best starting point for a tour of Romania. In the ’30s, Bucharest was known as “Little Paris” because of its boulevards delimited by trees. Here you can also admire an Arc de Triumph on the impressive Kiseleff Boulevard that is longer than the Champs Elyses and during springtime you can admire the splendor of the trees in bloom.
Despite extensive reconstruction plan in the ’80s, Bucharest remains a pleasant city full of parks, greenery, with cafes open on sidewalks in the summer and pleasure boats on the lakes and rivers that flow through it.
It is easy to handle Bucharest. The underground network is spread all over the city, and the fare for a journey is unique. The main avenues through the town are displayed on the north-south direction – from the Arc de Triomphe to the Civic Centre -, and are intersected by others that stretch from east to west. Calea Victoriei, which continues the Kiseleff Road, is the favorite promenade place for the city residents especially on summer evenings.
Here you will find majestic public buildings like the National History Museum and the Palace of the Post Office and towards the southern end of the avenue there is Cismigiu Park. Magheru Boulevard is parallel to Calea Victoriei and it contains travel agencies and airlines, cinemas, theatres, galleries and hotels.
You will probably be surprised by the eclectic mix of architectural styles in Bucharest: from Curtea Veche, the remains of the 15th century palace of Vlad Tepes – who was the founder of the city -, the old Orthodox churches, the second Empire style villas, heavy Stalinist architecture of the communist period and ending with the Palace of Parliament, a colossal building with six thousand rooms, the second largest in the world after the Pentagon.
Bucharest is always very interesting things waiting to discover them. While in Bucharest, do not miss its museums, especially in outdoor Village Museum located in Herastrau, near the Arc of Triumph. Here you see examples of architecture and handicrafts from all over Romania, including the famous wooden churches in Maramures and it’s the first such museum ever opened in the entire world.
Other “musts” include the National Art Museum, located in the former Royal Palace, the National History Museum on Calea Victoriei, housing the superb silverware of national treasure, and Curtea Veche / the Old Court, with its painted church in the sixteenth century.
Nearby there is the splendid Patriarchal Church, built in 1657, and now represents a contrasting note of the Civic Center’s modernity. And do not miss the Stavropoleos Church near Curtea Veche, a real jewel of Romanian Orthodox architecture. If you are lucky you are in one of these churches during a christening or a wedding, you will witness an unforgettable ceremony.
Bohemian life in Bucharest
The city’s artistic life has always been at the height of its Parisian nickname and today it is more active than ever. National Opera always keeps a classic repertoire – Puccini, Verdi, Rossini, Mozart.
In the splendid neo-classical style building of the Romanian Athenaeum international concerts are held or supported by the George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra. However, the ticket price is much lower than in other countries.
All tourists like to shop; you will find shops in Piata Unirii / the Union Square area and the main avenues. If you want to make a change, you can walk into a small bazaar belonging to the merchants on the streets of Lipscani Street, near the Old Court.
Here you can acquire beautiful souvenirs made by local artists, most of them unique, made of ceramics, glassware, fabrics and wood carvings. Another unforgettable experience would be to visit the bustling Flea Market on a Sunday morning, meaning a flea market on the banks of Dambovita River.
The restaurants of the capital have come to life again; roast beef, chicken or pork are the basis of many typical dishes and are followed by a wide range of pastry specialties or desserts. For a better appetite, taste the Romanian wines and tuica, the national drink.
The prices are reasonable and the atmosphere in bars, restaurants and night clubs is welcoming, brighten up by rhythms and beats from all over the world. Romanians are a full of life people, who like to party and feel good. Join the locals and fun is guaranteed!
And if you get exhausted by the hectic vibe of the city, you can escape for a few hours and discover the surroundings of Bucharest.
Bucharest is surrounded by forests and lakes, with old palaces and monasteries located in this picturesque landscape. Snagov Monastery, which dates from 1408, is treasured by Bucharest citizens who also go to this area to practice water sports on the lake.
Also, the elegant Mogosoaia Palace, built in the eighteenth century, which is at a distance of 14 km (9 miles) north of Lake Mogosoaia is worth visiting. And there are many other places and events – such as theatre, music, handicrafts festivals – that take place all year long, which will leave you a wonderful impression and will make you want to come back for more. eleff
Photo source Picture 1: torp.no; Picture 2: www.bucharestdailyphoto.ro; Picture 3: ro.wikipedia.org; Picture 4: metropotam.ro; Picture 5: hotelelizeu.ro; Picture 6: snagovclub.ro; Picture 7: hotelarcdetriomphe.ro.