Little known, Bucharest is nevertheless a destination to explore, especially for travellers wishing to get off the beaten track. The capital of Romania, which was nicknamed “the little Paris of the Balkans” in the 1930s, has a unique soul and charm.
Bucharest is a place for those who like to feel, watch and take the time to understand its history that evolved from an aristocratic past, with King Michael, who died in exile in Aubonne, Canton Vaud, on 5 December 2017, to the subsequent decades spent under a communist regime. This duality has found expression particularly through architecture.
Orthodox churches and Second Empire-style mansions rub shoulders, for example, with Stalinist-type buildings, starting with the gigantic Palace of Parliament. Constructed by order of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, with an interior surface of 350’000 m2, this is the second largest administrative building in the world after the Pentagon. Located on Primăverii Boulevard, one of Bucharest’s most famous main roads, the Ceausescu mansion, where the presidential couple resided, bears witness to their ostentatious and extravagant way of life.
A stroll along Victory Avenue (Calea Victoriei), which crosses the city from the historical centre to Victory Square (Piaţa Victoriei), is just like diving into the past. Its many buildings and monuments include the Romanian Athenaeum concert hall, dating from the end of the 19th century, the National Art Museum of Romania, the Cantacuzino Palace, Revolution Square or the Palace of Telephones, a modern structure built by the American company ITT in 1931, which caused much controversy at the time.
Lipscani, both a district and a street, is not to be missed. with its authentic atmosphere, restaurants and bars. Let your mind wander as you explore Cismigiu Park, the oldest in the city, and discover the magnificent Carturesti Carusel bookstore which houses tens of thousands of works. From Bucharest, you can set off to see the country and visit Bran Castle – also known as Dracula’s Castle – in Transylvania, and the charming medieval town of Brasov, famous for its Saxon ramparts and bastions. The region of Maramures with its wooden churches and tiny villages offers enchanting landscapes. This region, for a long time isolated from the world, remains the country’s most traditional.
Truly a timeless other world.
Take Off magazine, article by Odile Habel
Bucharest is Europe’s best kept secret. While visually it can't quite compete with the likes of some of the other grand Eastern European capitals, it leads the pack in dynamism, energy and forward momentum. While the remnants of Communism are still palpable throughout, the city has its sights set firmly on the future, though never forgetting its history. Trendy outdoor cafes and high-street shops live side-by-side with gorgeous Orthodox churches and world-class art galleries in the old town, all overlooked by the imposing Palace of Parliament.
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