The area known today as the Old Town of Bucharest is placed between Splaiul Independentei (Independence Embankment), I.C. Bratianu Boulevard, Calea Victoriei, Elisabeta Boulevard and is made up of several streets of historical value: Lipscani, Gabroveni, Blanari Selari, French Street, Stavropoleos.
Lipscani is today one of the oldest streets of Bucharest, being attested by documents since June 5th, 1589. Known as the “Main Street”, Lipscani was the most important commercial and handicraft center the city. Archaeological discoveries made at Hanul cu Tei (Linden Inn), in the basements of Gabroveni Inn and Lipsacani Passage prove that the area was inhabited since the 15th century.
Strada Doamnei is another important street in the Old Town arwa of Bucharest. Its name derives, as many other street names in Bucharest, from a place of worship – Biserica Doamnei (the Church of the Lady – referring to the Lady Mary, the second wife of Serban Cantacuzino, a noblemen from a prominent family). Most buildings were built between the late 19th century and the beginning of 20th century, among which there were churches, but also banks, residential buildings and cinemas.
The French Street is bordered by houses built in the nineteenth century. Most of them were erected after the great fire of 1874. Here we find perhaps the most important historical monuments in the entire Old Town: Old Court Church and the Manuc’s Inn.
Smardan Street is one of the first streets of the Romanian capital. On this street, at number 39, in Hotel Concordia, Alexandru Ioan Cuza was named Lord of the United Principalities of Romania. Up to this day, there stands a memorial plate attesting the historic event: “In this building, in the years of the union of Romanian Principalities, there was Hotel Concordia, where in the evening of January 23, 1859 Alexandru Ioan Cuza was decided ruler of Romanian Country by double election of the leading men of the National Party.”
Covaci Street has an interesting history: that of the famous mititei – the delicious fried sausage. On this street, at number 3, there was a famous restaurant frequented by many writers, until the middle of the last century – “La Iordache,” Ionescu Iordache’s Restaurant, the place was also known as “La o idee” because one of the daily customers was a famous pamphleteer Nicolae T. Orasanu. Here it’s said that is where were the mici, one of the culinary delights of the Romanian cuisine, were invented.
Architecture of the buildings has been influenced by various styles prevalent being the Renaissance and Baroque. Under the pavement of Lipscani Street there were discovered the ruins of several medieval inns. The buildings were nationalized in 1948, and in 1980, the communist authorities gave them in use to the Rroma ethnics but they have brought them to an advanced state of decay, turning them into a slum of dilapidated houses.
The degradation continued until the 1990s, but after a few years of restoration, the image of the area between the Union Square and Cismigiu Park was completely changed. Thus, in recent years, Bucharest residents and tourists enjoy their evenings spending time at large terraces, appetizing cafes, restaurants and clubs.
Old Town preserved the charm of the old times, but nowadays it has turned into a realm of contrasts: recently restored elegant buildings next to tired houses that seem to almost fall apart; modest terraces are reflected in the windows of luxury cafes; an elegant theater near a dilapidated courtyard all of these may seem a bit disconcerting; however the place has a poetry of its own.
Yet, the Old Town, whose meanings cannot be discovered fugitively, is a world that deserves to be known step by step and appreciated at its true value. Basically, each corner of the Old Town is a testimony of the beginnings and heritage of the becoming and lasting of a great city. Touristic circuits have been introduced in this area of the city that lives day and night by good mood and a slight interwar mood and flavor.
The Old Center of the capital has become in recent years the headquarters of fun, night life and entertainment. Every night, it attracts thousands of locals, expats or foreign tourists; There is nobody who lived or visited Bucharest who hasn’t spent at least one night on the streets of Lipscani, Smardan, Blanari Covaciu or the French Street. Currently, there are over 200 pubs here for all tastes, from bars and restaurants to pubs and bistros.
Today, the restaurants in the Old Town can be ordered by their specific, and some have become very famous, such as Divan, a highly appreciated Turkish; but other than this, you can find St. George Restaurant with Hungarian cuisine, and no less famous Romanian restaurant Caru ‘cu Bere.
All locations in the Old Town welcome its customers with a spacious terrace, most of them featuring cooling system for hot summer days when nothing is more appropriate than a frappe and a corner shadows.
Options for cafes and clubs are no less numerous, and the area has become one of the most frequented at night by both tourists and locals. Regardless of age, tourists and locals stop at least one evening a week, if not the whole weekend to listen to trendy music, to participate in a karaoke or dance until dawn, hence the variety of clubs in the Old Town area, which compete in a variety of offers and parties of all kinds.
In this period, the old center of Bucharest is passing through an extensive process of recovering. Known mostly for restaurants and bars, there have begun to appear reputable shops slowly turning it into an important commercial area.
The regular Saturday night, regardless of the season –this is what you can encounter in the Old Town: the crowd gathered on the promenade, pubs and terraces are full of happy people having fun or standing in line in front of the stands with delicious food, drinking beer and fill the scenery and the narrow intricate streets; all these are reasons enough to come and see for yourself what happens on a Saturday evening in Bucharest.
Photo source: Picture 1: romania-tours.ro; Picture 2: east-tour.com; Picture 3: stophavingaboringlife.com; Picture 4: puravidahostels.ro; Picture 5: agoratravel.ro; Picture 6: romaniavip.com; Picture 7: viewthrumygloballens.blogspot.ro