When I traveled to Bucharest, I wasn’t sure of what to expect. The only things that I knew was that Bucharest, used to be part of the old Soviet bloc and is home to the second largest building in the world.
I later found out that before World War II, the city was known as the “Little Paris“, because of its Art Nouveau architecture. When the war was over, the Soviet Union gained control of Romania. The old world architecture is now mixed with soviet style buildings left behind from decades of communist rule. Now Bucharest is experiencing a rebirth once again. The city is becoming known as the “New Berlin.” The past and present coexist in this unique European capital. There are interesting historical museums mingling with new trendy bars and cafes.
Here are a few of the places not to miss:
The Palace of Parliament
This is the second largest building in the whole world. It is located in the center of Bucharest, and was built in 1984 by Nicolae Ceausescu. It spans 12 stories with over 3100 rooms. We took a 45 minute tour of the building which included some extravagant rooms with lots of marble, massive chandeliers and handmade carpets.
The Arch of Triumph (Arcul de Triumf)
There have been three arches on this site. The first arch (made of wood) was inaugurated in 1878 when Romania gained its independence. The second arch was rebuilt on the site in 1922 after World War 1. Then in 1936 the current arch was erected. Each year, military parades are held underneath the Arcul de Triumf on December 1, which marks Romania’s National Day.
Lipscani (Old Town)
The Art nouveau, Baroque and neoclassical buildings in Lipscani are filled with art galleries and cafes. Make sure when you are exploring to take some time to linger at some of the great cafes, browse the many shops and spend a night listening to music in the bars in old town.
Caru’ cu Bere
This restaurant opened in 1879 and is also one of the oldest breweries in Bucharest. The Caru’ cu Bere is worth a visit just to see the painted ceilings and ornate woodwork. But make sure you order a meal, the food is amazing and their beer is tasty. It is a popular place so be prepared to wait for a table.
Museum of the Romanian Peasant
The Museum of the Romanian Peasant is dedicated to the traditional way of life. It houses exhibits of traditional clothing and artifacts. The gift shop is filled with handicrafts. Also there was a local market at the back of the Museum where we were able to purchase some tasty treats and souvenirs to take home.
The National Village Museum
The National Village is located on the shores of Lake Herastrau and has exhibits of architecture from all over Romania. There are over 300 different types of dwellings; including houses, barns, churches, and windmills. The Museum also has a large gift shop.
Originally called Palace Square, its name was changed after the Romanian Revolution in 1989, which marked the end of a decades-long communist regime. The Square houses: The National Museum of Art, Senate Palace, Memorial of Rebirth and Kretzulescu Church. the Athenaeum, the University of Bucharest Library.
The National Museum of Art
The museum is in the grounds of the old Royal Palace in Revolution Square. There is the National Gallery of Romanian art which includes medieval to modern Romanian paintings. There is also European Gallery with collections dating as early as the 14th century.
The building was the headquarters of the former Central Committee of the Romanian Communist Party. This was where Nicolae Ceaușescu and his wife fled by helicopter on December 22, 1989. In 1990, the building became the seat of the Senate and since 2006 it houses the Ministry of Interior and Administrative Reform.
Memorial of Rebirth
The memorial complex was inaugurated in August 2005. memorial commemorates the struggles and victims of the Romanian Revolution of 1989, which overthrew Communism. Under the pillar there is a plaque with the names of the 1058 victims of the revolution are engraved.
Kretzulescu Church is an Eastern Orthodox Church Built between 1720 – 1722. It is located on one of the corners of Revolution Square, next to the former Royal Palace.
This is just a few of the highlights of our stay in Bucharest. We had a fun time walking around and seeing the city. Bucharest has plenty of places to explore, many wonderful places to eat and some great shopping opportunities. If you are planning on visiting Romania, make sure you have a few days to see this vibrant city.
If you have visited Bucharest and have any places to add, please let me know! Happy Travels, Tava