B is for Bucharest/Bucuresti

 800px-Bucharest-Skyline-01

Bucharest, the capital of Romania, is a city that lives up to the old-new reputation. You’ll find modern buildings and ornate churches near gloomy communist-era apartments.

The atmosphere is changing — as to make up for years of stagnation — yet the city retains its Eastern European flair. Like any big city, it’s got the good and the bad — nice areas and not so nice, crowded streets and peaceful parks — but in my mind, and heart, the good outweighs the bad.

THE PAST

The city was established by a shepherd names Bucur around the 1400 AD.  During the Middle Ages, Bucharest was a commercial center, where The Old Court, an enclosed public square, constituted the nucleus for commerce in the region.

By the end of the nineteenth century, Bucharest became known as Small Paris. Buildings such as the Romanian Athenaeum were designed by French-trained architects and built in the years before World War I.

800px-Masterminds-1.ro-Bucharest

Antheneum

By 1918, roads were paved and renamed, one of them Calea Victoriei, (Victory Way) in honor of the battles of the 1877-78 War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire.

World War II, and the bombardment of 1944, changed everything, and the communist rule interrupted Bucharest’s cosmopolitan days. Slowly, the city was ringed with Soviet-style apartment structures, first in bombed areas, then expanding into the countryside. Same as the city, the lives/paths of Bucuresteni and Romanians everywhere changed. Completely.  

Years after the overthrow of the communist regime, the House of the People, the world’s second largest building after the US Pentagon, reminds Romanians of the communist era for one reason: it was built for Ceausescu, the Romanian dictator. Now renamed the Palace of Parliament, the 1,000-room building reflects the work of the country’s best architects and artisans.

Taken in Bucharest Nov07

Inside the Palace of Parliament

450px-Pantelimon

 Soviet-style apt. buildings

PRESENT

Today, the city reflects a heritage influenced by the old Romanian aristocracy, the communist society, and the international community.

For me, Bucharest is a city of parks and secret little gardens that write their own stories. Stories of lovers strolling hand in hand, of troubadours gathering for evenings of poetry. Parks with hidden pathway, like the one in Herestrau behind the oak tree where I had my first kiss. :)

It’s a busy city these days, changing so fast I fear the random traveler will misunderstand it.  Then again, being misunderstood is the fate of all great people and places.

800px-Gradina_Cismigiu,_Bucuresti_sect._5_(detaliu_2)

Park Garden

—-

Photos courtesy: Bucharest, by seisdeagosto; Wikimedia CC; Ateneul Roman, by Mastermindsro, Wikimedia CC; Cismigiu Garden, by Britchi Mirela, Wikimedia CC; The Palace of Parliament, by Pete Tedder, Flickr; Pantelimon, Wiki, CC

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32 responses to “B is for Bucharest/Bucuresti

  1. Hi Silvia .. I see it’s on a tributary of the Danube .. interesting it’s relatively new … but I imagine that mix of Ottoman, Medieval, French influence and then the last 100 years or so .. so much change ..

    Great to see the photos and find out more .. cheers Hilary

  2. Hi Silvia. Refreshing to find your blog among all the other writing blogs, and read about Romania. I’m a Romanian too, currently living in Switzerland with my husband (also Romanian) and our baby daughter.

    Good luck with the A to Z challenge. ;)

  3. My daughter’s been to Europe twice and going again this summer. I’ve yet to cross the ocean…but some day…

  4. Susan Gourley

    What a rich history. I would love to see that huge building. Is it open to the public.

    • Yes, limited areas of the building are open to visitors during certain hours. I think the Romanian Parliament is operating from there, so much of the place is closed, but still, you’ll see the long hallways, decorations and some rooms. Not to mention the tapestry and chandeliers and mahagony. Thanks for stopping by, Susan.

  5. The parliament building is beautiful.

  6. This was very interesting. All the destruction WW2 caused is sad. I’m glad to hear that the city is growing and coming into its own again. #atozchallenge has been a lot of fun so far. Have a great day!

  7. Great history lesson! I love that you’re able to think of the good parts as you look back. My parents have spent a lot of time in Russia and Ukraine and I have seen a ton of pictures of the remains of what happened when the Soviets where in charge. What a shame how they changed the “landscape” of so many places.
    Tina @ Life is Good
    A to Z Team @ Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2014

  8. I love all the information you give, and I love the name – Palace of Parliament. Sounds like a good title, doesn’t it?

  9. Thanks so much Sylvia. I remember the tyranny of Ceausescu. Extraordinary that so much good can come about after destruction and dictatorship. The Palace of Parliament looks so beautiful. Thank you for sharing your rich history.
    Garden of Eden Blog

  10. It’s a much bigger city than I realized. I’m pretty ignorant about Eastern Europe, so I’m enjoying your posts. Love the Park Garden picture!

  11. My step daughter and her husband have been there, they said it was lovely. What spectacular photos Silvia.

  12. internetreviewofbooks

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your informative post, Silvia. A building with 1,000 rooms–wow!

  13. Thankfully, Bucharest was able to recover the loveliness of its former self.

  14. So nice to hear also about the “secret little gardens”. Those are the things you never experience as a visitor, you have to live in a place to really know it well, inside out. It’s only then that you really understand a place.

  15. WWII and communism had such a profound effect on countries like yours, yet I hear a special love in your voice for your country. After all, it WAS where you had your first kiss :) Lovely post, Silvia!

  16. Bucur — Bucharest. Ahhhh. Now I know! I’d love to visit it one day!

  17. Donna B. McNicol [@dbmcnicol]

    Interesting spot…maybe I’ll get a chance to visit some day!

    D.B. McNicol
    A to Z: Romance & Mystery…writing my life

  18. I would love to visit Bucharest one day. Such beautiful architecture.

  19. Bucharest is one of the great cities I should visit when I go to Europe someday. All these European cities have such long, rich histories in comparison to U.S. cities.

  20. charlesallenjr

    Thanks for introducing me to Bucharest. After reading this, I would love to see it someday.

  21. Bucharest looks like a very good place to visit. Nice pics.

  22. Looks a lovely city…like the sound of secret little garden spots. I’m also planning to visit Cluj Napoca which sounds like another great city in your country. Great post, cheers.
    Maggie@Expatbrazil

  23. Sylvia I love these lines:
    For me, Bucharest is a city of parks and secret little gardens that write their own stories. Stories of lovers strolling hand in hand, of troubadours gathering for evenings of poetry. Parks with hidden pathway, like the one in Herestrau behind the oak tree where I had my first kiss. :)

  24. Enjoying my “tour” as it may be the only one I have of that beautiful city.

  25. Wow, lovely! The woman whose memoirs I’m editing had a terrible time under the tyranny of Ceausescu. I read about the palaces he built. This is so exciting to see these pictures and get more depth of information about Romania. I think your liking my post today was Divine Help to bring me here. So cool! Now that I’ve totally blog bombed you. :-)

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