Bucharest has a lot of stories to tell you

They also call it "the Little Paris". It is a city that is constantly evolving, trying to leave behind the Ceausescu era and become a modern European capital. 50% classic and 50% modern, Bucharest is one of the most popular destinations in the Balkans. And a place where you can see a lot of different things in such a few days.

I believe that both the classic and the modern part of Bucharest are very interesting and need a lot of words to be described. So on this post i will focus on the first one only, trying to see how it has developed through the years and during the communist era. But later on i will also deal with the city's museums, the amazing parks that it has and the plenty ways that Bucharest can entertain you.

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One of  the building of the University of Bucharest

Bucharest was first mentioned in documents in 1459 and according to a legend was named after a shepherd called Bucur. Gradually it developed into an important center of central and eastern Europe, and in 1862 it became the capital of Romania. During the second half of the 19th century and the first of 20th its unique architecture and style were the reason that Bucharest earned this nickname.

As i was heading from the airport to the city i realized that there are two things that probably will impress you. The first one i noticed is that there are a lot of contrasts between the buildings. In some areas you think that you are in a modern city, while in some others in a smaller province. I believe that the two World Wars and the communist regime are still "visible". So you can see a huge, bleak and depressing block of flats that was built during these years and right next to it, a brand-new office complex. Moreover, the minimum wage is just 1050 Lei (about 240 euros). However the gap between the poor and the rich is big and there are many people that own expensive cars. Since i mentioned that, the second thing that impressed me is the road traffic. Locals usually prefer their cars instead of public transportation. As a result it is not easy to move around, especially during peak hours.

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Dâmbovița river

Having disembarked from the bus and left my stuff at my lovely hostel, just a few metres from Piata Unirii, i think it's time to start exploring the city. Unirii Avenue is one of the many roads in Bucharest that are full of trees and wide sidewalks, and will lead you straight to most characteristic landmark of the city : the Palace of the Parliament (Palatul Parlamentului). The biggest inspiration of Ceausescu and his megalomania, its construction began in 1984, it covers an area of 340,000 square metres and is the second largest public building in the world. With more than 1,000 rooms and a total of 12 floors and 4 underground levels, i believe you should have a guided tour to learn more about the history of this building and enjoy its rich decoration. You should have in mind that it is necessary to show your ID or passport and as i was told, if you would like to use a camera you need to pay 30 Lei (7 euros) extra!

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Palatul Parlamentului, as seen from Parcul Izvor

Shortly before the Palace you can take another one main road, Calea Victoriei, which is full of museums, churches and public buildings. For me, two are the sites that i spend a lot of minutes. The first one is the Revolution Square (Piata Revolutiei). There, somewhere between the monument to the victims of the Revolution, the National Art Museum and the University Library there is a building that it doesn't seem maybe so amazing, but has played an important role in post-war Romania. I am talking about the former headquarters of the Communist Party. Here you can see the balcony where Ceausescu had in 1968 his most famous speech, and 21 years later was executed along with his wife. Today it houses the Ministry of Interior and Administrative Reform.

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In the background you can see the former headquarters of the Communist Party

Just a few metres away it is located the second point of interest, the Romanian Athenaeum. Built in neoclassical style in 1888, it is a concert hall that host many music festivals and is open every day. Its interior will amaze you and the small park in front of it is a very good reason to sit and get some rest.

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Romanian Athenaeum and a statue of Mihai Eminescu, famous Romanian poet

Apart from these two, in Calea Victoriei I believe two more buildings that worth seeing are the CEC Palace (Palatul CEC), headquarters of the national savings bank CEC, and the Cercul Militar which belongs to the Romanian army and is used for events.

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CEC Palace

Personally I was also impressed by the churches of the city. In the Old Town there is the famous Stavropoleos Church which was built by a Greek monk, is dedicated to the archangels Michael and Gabriel and is also an UNESCO heritage site. It is very admirable that even though being in the most bustling part of Bucharest, when you walk into the yard you have the impression that maybe you're in one of the historical monasteries of Moldova. In general you will see a lot of churches during your visit, as Romania is one of the countries with the most churches in Europe.

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Stavropoleos Church

Bucharest's past undoubtedly was fascinating and unique. Now i am looking forward to discover the modern side of this city, see the rest of the attractions and enjoy the nightlife.

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3 thoughts on “Bucharest has a lot of stories to tell you

  1. Thank you for sharing it! I am from Hungary, and many people from other parts of the world mix Bucharest and Budapest – well, Budapest has been also called the “Paris of the East” 🙂
    I have only been to Bucharest for one afternoon back in 1984, so I didn’t see too much of it.

    But I remember watching Ceaucescu’s execution on tv, that was a big deal for us, because there is a large Hungarian population in Romania and in those times they had a terrible life.

    I bet Bucharest has changed a lot, so I would love to go back and really see it.

    Like

    1. So nice to hear that. I have to admit that i don’t know how Bucharest looked like 20 or 30 years ago, but from the stories i have heard of i think it’s quite different now. Still it doesn’t look like a capital e.g. of West or South Europe, but its character is very unique!

      Like

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