Bucharest is a somewhat perplexing city, made of a mismatch of eras. It is where the brutal rebuilding phase of Ceausescu is still evident in blocks of grey housing, distinctly French baroque palaces stand near the ruins of medieval courts and churches and where 21st century office buildings create a towering skyline. Taking even a short walk through the city is like time traveling through hundreds of years of history.
Start your exploration of the Romanian capital on Calea Victoriei, the oldest and most charming street in the city. Initially paved with oak beams upon its construction in 1692, the street is now one of Bucharest’s most fashionable and home to some of the city’s most stunning buildings.
One such building is the Cantacuzino Palace, the former home of the Prime Minister and one of Romania’s wealthiest citizens, Grigore Cantacuzino. He dreamt of having the most elegant residence in the city, and he succeeded by building this palace in 1899. A combination of art nouveau elements and neoclassical style, the palace now houses the George Enescu Museum, dedicated to one of Romania’s greatest composers. Exhibits include the musician’s documents, personal effects and a collection of Bach music gifted to him by Romania’s Queen Elisabeta.
The nearby Revolution Square has a long history but is most remembered for being the site of Nicolae Ceausescu’s last moments in power in December 1989. The square is flanked by many impressive buildings, including the Royal Palace. Once home to the monarchy, the palace now houses the Romanian National Art Museum. Over 100,000 works on display, including those by Romanian masters Andreescu, Grigorescu and Aman, and a European Gallery featuring works by Rembrandt, Renoir, El Greco, both Breughels and Monet.
The diverse and colorful cultural life of the Romanian people comes alive at the Museum of the Romanian Peasant. The museum highlights the country’s rich tradition of folk art, including more than 18,000 pottery pieces and over 20,000 traditional folk costumes. Displays detail all aspects of Romanian life in the countryside, highlighting over 100 years of regional textiles and handicrafts, tools, icons, photographs and furniture.
Other notable Bucharest museums include the National History Museum, comprised of 41 rooms of artifacts from prehistoric times to the present, the National Military Museum, the outdoor Village Museum, which highlights Romania’s rural architecture, and the Communist Iconography Museum.
The city is also well-known for its many parks and gardens. One of the most lovely is the Cismigiu Garden, featuring more than 30,000 plants and trees imported from the country’s mountains. It is the oldest park in the capital and a wonderful place to stroll and escape the hectic pace of the city. Amid the winding paths and lush green lawns is a beer garden, chess area and plenty of benches perfect for people-watching. Other parks worth a visit include Herastrau Park, which spreads over 400 acres, and Carol I Park, home to Romania’s Unknown Soldier and a massive monument to Communist leader Gheorghe Gheorghiu Dej.
Bucharest offers visitors so many wonderful things, and nightlife is one of them. There really is something for everyone in the capital, from lounge and jazz clubs to Irish pubs and trendy bars. Wherever you go, you will find friendly locals waiting to share a bottle of tuica or share their view’s on the country’s past, present and future.
Bucharest Geographical Location
Bucharest is located in the southeast of Romania on the Dambovita River.
It is the largest city in Romania with a population of approximately 2,330,000 people.
Romanian is the official language of Romania with English being the predominant second language spoken.
Bucharest Predominant Religion
- 87% Eastern Orthodox
- 7% Protestant
- 5% Roman Catholic
- 1% Other
Romania is a secular state but its population is comprised almost entirely of Christians.
The Romanian Lei is the official currency of Romania.
Bucharest experiences hot summers and cold winters with wind present throughout the year.
Bucharest Main Attractions
- Palace of Parliament
- Village Museum
- National Museum of Art
Other Attractions in Bucharest
- Cismigiu Garden
- National Museum of Romanian History
- CEC Palace