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Bucharest

Founded in 1459, on the banks of the Dambovita River, by ruler Vlad'Tepes, Bucharest become later the capital city of the Princely Court. The tradition connects the founding of Bucharest with the name of Bucur who was either a princely person, an outlaw, a fisher or a shepherd according to different legends. But a fact doubtless: the name of Bucur is of a Thracian-Geto-Dacian origin. The name of Bucharest (Bucuresti) remembers the Romanian word "bucurie" (gladness), and this town had, like many European metropoles, decades of gladness, greatness, and sorrow too.

Bucharest proved it is a great European metropole many years ago. In 1701-1702, Sword bearer Mihai Cantacuzino built the Coltea Monastery with "an infirmary and a house for foreigners, for the resting and caress, in Christ, of our poor brothers who are ill", with 12 beds for men and 12 beds for women, free of charge. It was the first "hospital" in Bucharest, situated on the place of the modern on of our days in downtown. In 1857 the building of the Palace of Academy, the future University, started using the projects of arch. Alexandru Orascu. Bucharest is permanent in front of progress. It has gas lamps in 1861 before Paris and Berlin. In 1864, its Town-Hall was founded by law. On January, lst, 1871, the street lighting with coal gas made by a factory in Filaret was installed. In the same time, in Bucharest, the first vehicles of public transport started to run: tramcar (1871) and horse trams (1872). The first commercial and handicraft frequented place of the town is "the Great Street" - the Lipscani Street at present dated in a document from June, 5th, 1589. The archaeological discoveries done in Hanul cu Tei, in the basement of the Gabroveni Inn and in the Lipscani Passage prove this zone was inhabited since the XVth century. The Lipscani is a famous street in the historic downtown of Bucharest only a few meters far from the Kilometer number 0 of Romanian Capital. The Lipsca is apparently the Romanian transcription of the name of Leipzig, and Lipscani was the name of the merchants who sold goods imported from Leipzig. In our days it is an important commercial street which crosses other little streets named after different old professions: "The big Street of Saddlers" (where saddles, reins and hamesses were made), "The Street of Locksmithes" a.o.

The town is also a cultural European town and from this its name of "The Little Paris". There are artistic and literary rooms and the famest is Princess Bibescu's. The population of Bucharest was of a quarter of the one of Paris. Now in Bucharest more than two million peoples live.

In the second half of the XIXth century and early in the XXth century, important buildings are built: the National Bank (1883-1885), Foisorul de Foc (the Firemen's Tower) (1892-1893), the Museum of the Romanian Literature (1873), the Romanian Academy (1890), the Justice Palace (1890-1895), "Gh. Lazar" Lycee (1890), the Northern Railway Station (1868-1872), the Parliament Palace on the Hill of Metropolitan Church (1907), "Grigore Antipa" Museum (1908). In 1935 the Triumph Arch (27 m in high) is built on the nice Kiseleff Avenue which is longer than Champs Elysees in Paris.

The II WW, failure of monarchy, and the communist regime succeded. During this period of time, some residential districts for workers were built. The earthquake in 1977 forced the building of some new piles of buildings in downtown. In the Union Square numerous blocks of flats with 6,000 rooms were built on the Union Boulevard (the one to the former People's House, the Parliament building now).

Bucharest is a real garden-town with a varied architecture. From this point of view the Cismigiu is a reference point. Here, in this park created in 1860, with its lawns and status, there is a nice and old fashion atmosphere. This is the favorite walking place of Bucharesters in summer. It is situated by the main boulevards, the Dambovita River and huge civic center.

The boulevards of Bucharest are cut from the North to the South and from the East to the West, but not very straight. The Victory Road is the vertebral column of Bucharest. The Victory Road! It's the axle of the wheel of this town. The Victory Road is the former Podul Mogosoaiei. Why this name? Because in 1692, ruler Constantin Brancoveanu built this wood floored road between his palace in Bucharest and his castle in Mogosoaia. Along this road there are very interesting building. The Stavrapoleos Church is a real jewel. The young Greek monk Ioanichie leaves the Goura Monastery and comes in Bucharest. In 1722 he bought the ground and builds the Stavropoleos Church (October, 30th, 1724). In 1894, architect Savulescu starts the building of the Post Palace (now it is the National History Museum). The building was opened in 1900, in autumn. It has a surface of 8000 sq.m, costed over 4,000,000 Lei in gold and it looks like the Federal Post Palace in Geneve. Over 128 years, Capsa was more than a hotel, a confectionery and a cafe. In a way, it was the hub of our country and its alive chronicle. At Capsa, evening by evening, the fashionable world (actors, critics, writers, painters) of Bucharest met. In 1878, a large-hearted Romanian returned from Athens, where he has been a diplomatic agent, wanted to build a "home of arts" with a concert hall, exhibition halls, library and a picture gallery in Bucharest. The Athenaeum. The name of this Romanian was Constantin Exarcu. He was helpt by Scarlat Rosetti, V.A. Urechia, Nicolae Kretzulescu a.o. They decided to built the Athenaeum with French architect Albett Galleron who built also the National Bank of Romania. The expenses over fulfilled the money they have had. So they initiated a public collection with the motto: "Give one Leu for the Athenaeum". So, in 1888 the Romanian Athenaeum was finished. A happy joining between Rome and Athens, with its facade inspired by Erekteion, the wings of the Sibyle Temple in Tivoli and the crowning of the Lisicrat Monument, the Athenaeum was, is and will be for a long time the landmark of Bucharest like the Eiffel Tower for Paris, the Sant Angelo Castle for Rome and the Parliament building for London. At his death, Constantin Exarcu leftits fortune to the Romanian Athenaeum. Here in Exarcu's Athenaeum Hubermann, Kubelik, Enescu and Voicu, Sauer, Paderewski and Ursuleasa played violin and piano, Cortez, Nicolesco and Carusso sang, Celibidache conducted, and in the exhibition halls, generations by generations, Romanian painters and sculptors exhibited their works.

The Gen. Gh. Magheru Boulevard, parallel with the Victory Road, is relatively short. Its buildings from the 30' host tourist agencies, airways companies, shops, restaurants, cinemas and de luxe hotels. It is continued by the Nicolae Balcescu with buildings in the Second Empire style. Also here there is the modern tower of the Intercontinental Hotel, and closed to it, The National Theatre and University.

The old town is still a part of Bucharest. Try to find the ruins of the Old Court (former Princely Court of Vlad Tepes) which is now an open-air museum, and its little church dating from the XVI-th century, on the Iuliu Maniu Street. Near by it there is the famous Manuc's Inn, a former caravanserai, built in 1808 and reopened as a hotel-restaurant. The Patriarchate Church, situated on the Union Boulevard was built in 1657.

The museums in Bucharest are rich. The Village Museum - an open-air museum - is situated in the Herastrau Park, near by the Triumph Arch. On a surface of 15 ha, by the lake, there are 198 buildings of authentic peasant's architecture from all over Romania. Other important museums are: the National Art Museum, the Museum of Art Collections, Cotroceni National Museum and the National History Museum which keeps the gold, silver and jewels of the Treasure.

The name of "the Little Paris" was given to Bucharest thanks to its artistic life offered by Opera House, Operetta Theatre, the National, Bulandra, Nottara Theatres, the "George Enescu" Philarmonic Orchestra, a.o.

In the evening, the bars and restaurants, clubs and cabarets wake up. Bucharest is the European town with the most numerous casinos. The Bucharesters, like all Romanians, are kind, gladly and like to have fun. Near by them or together you can have fun too.

Bucharest has two airports, the Baneasa, for home flies and the Otopeni for the international flies, as well five railway stations, the main being the Northern Railway Station.

The three metro lines - M1, M2, M3 - cover the whole town.

Not the least, we have to mention that Bucharest is an important economic center - 15 per cent of the national potential being here.

Bucharest is surrounded by lakes and forests with old palaces and monasteries situated near by them. The Snagov Monastery (14th) situated on an island of the Snagov Lake, is a favorite place of Bucharesters. At 14 km far from Bucharest there is the wonderful Mogosoaia Palace built in the XVIIIth century former residence of ruler Constantin Brancoveanu who gave his name to a Romanian style which combines baroque and Renaissance elements of architecture. A point of attraction is also the Caldarusani Monastery - situated 40 km far from Bucharest - built by ruler Matei Basarab in 1638 and later painted by Nicolae Grigorescu. The pile of buildings from Cernica consists in two churches and a chapel painted by Gh. Tatarescu dating from the first decade of the XIXth century. The Museum of this monastery has valuable and old art and religious objects, manuscripts and icons.


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Updated: 1997-06- Please write to us with your comments and suggestions.