Bucharest, the capital of Romania, represents a curious, intriguing mix of oriental and occidental influences, a place where one can admire both old and new architectural styles. It is a city that is chosen by many as their summer time vacation destination, and a couple of weeks spent there will surely help you start to understand and feel its uniqueness.
So, what is there to see in Bucharest?
Well, I should start with the Romanian Athenaeum, a place of great interest for music and concert lovers. Those of you who appreciate architecture will also delight in admiring the building, which is white, elegant and was built in 1888 in a neo-classical style.
A very interesting thing is the manner in which the money that was needed in order to restore the building to its former beauty was gathered a few years ago. Ordinary people were asked to donate one leu (a unit of the Romanian currency) for the Athenaeum, using a small, two verse poem.
The money was collected very fast and the 40 meters high building was restored, resembling an ancient temple. The good news is that the music lovers can listen to most classical masterpieces inside the Athenaeum.
Another prized tourist attraction in Bucharest is The Village Museum, which was created in 1936 and exhibits around 300 types of traditional Romanian houses, windmills, churches, houses that were built on water, etc. Many of these houses are authentic, being brought to Bucharest piece by piece and reassembled there. The museum can be visited all year long and it is positioned near one of the biggest parks in Bucharest, the Herastrau Park.
A lot of tourists coming to Bucharest, if not all of them, decide to visit The Parliament House, a soviet style, huge building that attracts the curiosity and interest of most people coming to Romania. It was built by former communist leader and dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, after he ordered the demolition of numerous houses and churches in order to clear the area. Being the second largest building in the world and competing with the Pentagon building in size, it is no wonder that so many tourists come and wander inside The Parliament House using the help offered by a guide.
The Cismigiu Gardens represent the place where citizens and tourists alike relax and breathe cleaner and fresher air right in the middle of the city. It is the oldest park in Bucharest and the fresh grass, the colored flowers and all the pigeons flying around really help the visitors relax and enjoy nature.
Then there is The Old Court, the most ancient part of the city, which is nowadays rebuilt and a little bit modernized, as many little restaurants and coffee shops have opened there. This is the most crowded place in the city as the evening comes, because people love to chat there, drinking or eating.
In fact, The Old Court is one of the very few places where you can admire the most modern restaurants and the ruins of very old houses sitting side by side. You can visit several old inns and pubs, and you can try some of the tasty, traditional Romanian dishes there. A famous restaurant in the area is Manuc’s Inn, the oldest inn in the region, which was built around 1808 for the merchants that were coming to sell their products in Bucharest. It was in this very building that important historical documents were signed – the 1812 treaty that ended the war between the Russian and the Turks, for example. Today it is an enchanting place that was preserved very well and attracts foreigners like a magnet.
Irina Chirilov, the author of this article, is a blogger for Thrifty Bucuresti Romania, a car rental agency in Europe.