The Old Town of Bucharest, Romania
The Old Town of Bucharest, Travel Guide
> Parliament's Palace
> Its 19th century Parisian touch.
> Walking along Victoriei Avenue.
> Having a beer in Lipscani.
> Its hidden, beautiful Orthodox churches.
Map of The Old Town of Bucharest, Romania
The central area of the capital; its backbone is the Victoriei Avenue.
About The Old Town of Bucharest, Romania
It used to be called the Paris of the East and the architecture of the old part of the city can prove the French influence. Old houses, imposing landmarks, parks and monuments are anchored along its main avenue, Victoriei. The Parliament's Palace is the largest palace in the world. Lipscani area, the Cismigiu Gardens, the Atheneum and the MNAR are also great places to visit.
bestromania: flights >
Bucharest became the capital of Romania late in the 19th century. First mentioned as "the Citadel of Bucuresti" in 1459, it became a residence of the Wallachian prince Vlad III the Impaler. Bucharest was established as the summer residence of the court, later competing with Targoviste for the status of capital after an increase in the importance of the southern part of Muntenia, because of the dominating power from the south, the Ottoman Empire.
Burned down by the Ottomans and briefly discarded by princes at the start of the 17th century, Bucharest was restored and continued to grow in size and prosperity. Its centre was around the street "Ulita Mare", which starting 1589 was known as Lipscani. Before the 1700s, it became the most important trade centre of Wallachia and became a permanent location for the Wallachian court after 1698. Partly destroyed by natural disasters and rebuilt several times during the following 200 years, the city was wrested from Ottoman control and occupied at several intervals by the Habsburg Monarchy and Imperial Russia. It was placed under Russian administration, and an Austrian garrison took possession after the Russian departure. Additionally, on March 23, 1847, a fire consumed about 2,000 buildings of Bucharest, destroying a third of the city.
In 1861, when Wallachia and Moldavia were united to form the Principality of Romania, Bucharest became the new nation's capital; in 1881, it became the political centre of the newly-proclaimed Kingdom of Romania. During the second half of the 19th century, due to its new status, the city's population increased dramatically, and a new period of urban development began. The extravagant architecture and cosmopolitan high culture of this period won Bucharest the nickname of "The Paris of the East" (or "Little Paris", Micul Paris), with Calea Victoriei as its Champs-Elysees or Fifth Avenue. After World War I, Bucharest became the capital of Greater Romania. As the capital of an Axis country, Bucharest suffered heavy losses during World War II.
During Nicolae Ceausescu's leadership (1965-1989), most of the historic part of the city was destroyed and replaced with Communist-style buildings, particularly high-rise apartment buildings. The best example of this is the development called Centrul Civic (the Civic Centre), including the Palace of the Parliament, where an entire historic quarter was razed to make way for Ceausescu's megalomaniac constructions. It is the world's largest palace, and, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, it is the largest civilian administrative building, and the world's heaviest building. In 1977, a strong 7.4 on the Richter-scale earthquake claimed 1,500 lives and destroyed many old buildings. Nevertheless, some historic neighborhoods did survive to this day.
Lipscani is a street and a district of Bucharest, Romania, which in the Middle Ages was the most important commercial center of Bucharest and the whole Wallachia. It is located near the ruins of the old Princely Court built by Vlad III the Impaler. All trades were found in the area, many guilds having their own street. During the Communist period, the whole area was scheduled to be demolished, but this never came to fruition. The district became neglected, and nowadays many buildings are in a deplorable state.
THE OLD PRINCELY COURT
Curtea Veche (the Old Princely Court), placed in the heart of Lipscani neighborhood, was built as a place or residence during the rule of Vlad III Dracula in the 15th century now operates as a museum in the centre of Bucharest; It is also at the center of efforts to restore the historic center of Bucharest. The Curtea Veche church is the oldest in Bucharest, built around 1550 and served as a coronation church for the kings of Wallachia.
THE PARLIAMENT'S PALACE
The largest palace in the world measures 270m by 240m, 86 m high, and 92 m under ground. It has 330.000 m2, 1,100 rooms, it is 12 stories tall, with 8 additional underground levels. 7 sq.km of the old Bucharest had to be demolished, including 19 Orthodox Christian churches, six Jewish synagogues, 11 Protestant churches and 30,000 residences. 20.000 workers working three shifts contributed and the estimated cost is around 3 billion euro.
The Cismigiu Gardens (Romanian: Gradina Cismigiu) are a public park near the center of Bucharest, Romania, spanning areas on all sides of an artificial lake. The gardens' creation was an important moment in the history of Bucharest. They form the oldest and, at 17 hectares, the largest park in city's central area. The main entrance is from Regina Elisabeta Boulevard, in front of the City Hall.
Calea Victoriei is a major avenue in central Bucharest. It leads from Splaiul Independentei up to Piata Victoriei. Major buildings and monuments along the street include (from north to south): George Enescu Museum, Romanian Athenaeum, National Museum of Art of Romania, The library of the University of Bucharest, Kretzulescu Church, Revolution Square, Odeon Theatre, Casa Capsa, Cercul Militar National, Vilacrosse passage, National Museum of History of Romania, CEC building.
The Romanian Athenaeum (Romanian: Ateneul Roman) is a concert hall in the center of Bucharest, Romania and a landmark of the Romanian capital city. It is the home of Gerge Enescu Philarmonic. Opened in 1888, the ornate, domed, circular building is the city's main concert hall and home of the "George Enescu" Philharmonic and of the George Enescu annual international music festival. In 1919, the Atheneum was the site of the conference of leading Romanians who voted to constitute Greater Romania. The overall style is neoclassical, with some more romantic touches. Inside, the ground floor hosts an ornate conference hall as large as the auditorium above.
The National Museum of Art of Romania (Romanian: Muzeul National de Arta al Romaniei) is located in the former royal palace, completed in 1937. It features notable collections of medieval and modern Romanian art, as well as the international collection assembled by the Romanian royal family. The collection includes works by Rubens, Rembrandt, Monet or Sisley.
It is an Eastern Orthodox church built in the traditional Romanian Brancovenesc style, located on Victoriei Avenue. Built around 1720, the church was on the Communist Party's list of demolotions but was saved due to efforts of some local architects.
NATIONAL MUSEUM OF HISTORY OF ROMANIA
The largest and most important history museum in the country hosted by a neoclassical building finished around 1900.
Built in 1724, Stavropoleos is currently functioning as a church; it has a constant involvement in Byzantine music through its choir and the largest collection of Byzantine music books in Romania. The name means "City of the Cross" in Greek.
In Romanian it is called "Dealul Mitropoliei" is a small hill 10 minutes away from Lipscani where the heart of the Romanian Orthodox Church is located; the head of the Orthodox Romanians is also here. Started around 1650, the old monastic complex was surrounded by walls. In the center of the site, you can find the Romanian Patriarchal Cathedral. The complex also hosts the Patriarchal Palace and the Palace of the Chamber of Deputies, nowadays it is administrated by the Church.
MUSEUM OF THE ROMANIAN PEASANT
Placed nearby Victoriei Plaza, the northern end of Victoriei Avenue, this place is one of Europe's leading museum dedicated to folk arts and traditions. It has a considerable collection of textiles, ceramics, religious icons and other traditional artefacts (about 100.000 objects). It was designated the European Museum of the Year in 1997. The building is following an old Romnanian architectural tradition, called Brancovenesc style.
THE ROMANIAN NATIONAL LIBRARY
Placed on Victoriei Avenue, it is the largest library of Romania, with over 13 million books and 162 incunabula (valuable pieces printed before 1501).