Whether you’re planning to work, volunteer or just visit Romania, make sure to put Bucharest on your itinerary. It’s a city with a blend of old and new, where you can witness the grandeur of its past while enjoying its modern amenities. Known as “Little Paris”, it boasts breathtaking architecture and a rich history. Make sure to have a checklist of places to visit to ensure that you don’t miss out on anything. Trust me, you won’t regret visiting this vibrant city!
1. The Old Town
The Old Town of Bucharest is such a charming place to explore! You can really feel the history seeping through the cobblestone streets and medieval buildings. It’s amazing to think that some of these structures have been standing since the 15th and 16th centuries. And to think that the area was almost completely demolished in the 1980s, but managed to survive and bounce back is truly remarkable.
Walking around the Old Town, you’ll see a mix of beautifully restored buildings and others that are still waiting for a bit of love and attention. But that’s part of its charm, isn’t it? It’s a reminder of how far the city has come and how much work there’s still left to do.
There are plenty of things to do and see in the Old Town, from exploring the open-air museum at Curtea Veche to checking out the National Museum of Romanian History. And of course, you can always pop into a café or restaurant to recharge and take in the atmosphere.
2. Palace of the Parliament
The Palace of the Parliament, also known as the People’s House or Republic’s House, is located at the end of Unirii Boulevard in Bucharest. The building is the second-largest administrative building in the world, after the Pentagon, and ranks third in volume, surpassed only by the building for assembling rockets in Florida and the Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl in Mexico.
The Palace is the heaviest building in the world, with 1 million cubic meters of marble, 700,000 tons of steel and bronze, and 3,500 tons of crystal. It measures 270m by 240m, is 86m tall and has 9 levels above ground and 9 underground levels. The construction of the building began in 1984 as part of Nicolae Ceausescu’s project of “rebuilding” Bucharest. It had 700 architects and approximately 20,000 workers working in three shifts, 24 hours a day. The building’s costs were estimated at $1.75 billion in 1989 and €3 billion in 2006. All the materials used came only from Romania.
Today, the Palace of the Parliament houses the two chambers of the Romanian Parliament, the National Museum of Contemporary Art, and the headquarters of several international organizations. It is open to tourists and offers guided tours in several languages. The Palace of the Parliament is an impressive architectural feat and a significant landmark in Bucharest that cannot be missed.
3. Romanian Athenaeum
The Romanian Athenaeum is a renowned concert hall situated in Bucharest. It is located on Calea Victoriei in George Enescu Square, which is also home to the “George Enescu” Philharmonic Orchestra. Construction of the building began in 1886 and was financed, in part, through public subscription. It was designed by French architect Albert Galleron, with a peristyle supported by six Ionic columns, five mosaic medallions depicting rulers of the country, and a decorated dome.
With a seating capacity of approximately 794, the concert hall has 600 seats on the ground floor and 52 boxes. The interior features a 3-meter-wide and 70-meter-long fresco by painter Costin Petrescu, depicting 25 scenes from the history of Romania.
4. The Triumph Arch
You don’t have the time to visit multiple European countries? No worries. There are a few things that are similar to the ones in the rest of Europe anyway.
The Arch of Triumph in Bucharest, Romania was built between 1921 and 1922 by architect Petre Antonescu as a symbol of the country’s victory in World War I. It also represents the unity of all Romanians. The story of the arch began in 1922, when a temporary wooden arch was built to celebrate the Great Union. However, this arch soon fell apart and was replaced by a second, more permanent one. Eventually, in 1935, a grander and more solid Arch of Triumph was built in the same location. Today, the Bucharest Arch of Triumph serves as a popular tourist destination and a reminder of Romania’s history and victory in World War I.
5. Herăstrău Park
Herăstrău is the biggest park in Bucharest and in all of Europe! You can spend a whole day there and still not see everything. There’s a lake where you can rent boats and hydro-bicycles to ride on the water. Plus, there’s an aquarium in case you wanna see some fishies.
And don’t even get us started on the Japanese Garden, it’s like entering a whole new world. You’ll be surrounded by cherry blossoms and weeping branches like you’ve never seen before. And at sunset, the view of the Press House and Sky Tower reflecting on the lake is just breathtaking. Herastrau Park has got something for everyone, whether you’re into romance, sports, or just chilling with your gang.
6. Cișmigiu Park
If you’re looking for a bit of elegance and history in the middle of the bustling city, Cișmigiu Park is your spot. And don’t be fooled by its size, this little gem packs a punch. You’ll feel like you’ve traveled back in time as you stroll along the narrow alleys and take in the scenery. This park has been around since 1854. It’s been around longer than most of our grandparents. But don’t let that scare you off, it’s been well-maintained and has a rose garden, a French garden, and three lakes. And if you’re feeling extra fancy, you can even rent a boat and take a little ride.
But be warned, back in the day, there were strict rules for visitors to the park. No loud talking, no hatefulness, and no miserableness allowed. So, if you’re feeling like a grump, steer clear. But if you’re ready for a little bit of class, Cișmigiu Park is waiting for you.
If you’re a lover of all things science and nature, then the Grigore Antipa National Museum of Natural History is the place for you. It’s the largest museum of its kind in Romania. They’ve got over two million specimens of animals, rocks, minerals, and even world ethnography pieces.
And one of the best things, they’ve got the only complete skeleton of a Deinotherium gigantissimum! It went extinct 2.5 million years ago, so you can’t exactly see one anywhere else. Plus, the museum has been around since 1834, so you know they’ve got some seriously cool stuff. And now, the exhibition is totally high-tech, with interactive displays and touchscreens. Who says science can’t be fun?
8. National Museum of Art of Romania
The National Museum of Art of Romania is a must-see tourist destination in Bucharest. It houses the most important and comprehensive collection of fine art in the country, divided into three major categories: Old Romanian Art Gallery, Modern Romanian Art Gallery, and European Art Gallery. The museum features works from famous artists such as Constantin Brancusi, Rembrandt, Monet, Rubens, and Tintoretto.
Established in 1948, the museum has changed its official title several times and has moved from one wing to another, but still retains its vocation as an important representative of Romanian culture. After being closed for a decade from 1990 to 2000, the museum now boasts three permanent galleries added in 2013 to the historical spaces of the former Royal Palace. Cultural circuits in Bucharest often begin with a visit to the Old Romanian Art Gallery and the Modern Romanian Art Gallery, which offer a broad overview of the Romanian culture.
9. Enjoy some street art
Bucharest is pretty much a giant open-air museum of street art! I mean, seriously, if you don’t end up with a million photos of graffiti and murals, did you even go to Bucharest? From political commentary to cultural nods, the street art in Bucharest is a reflection of the society and its issues. These artists aren’t afraid to make a statement!
It’s not just about pretty pictures – this street art has the power to change the world (or at least get people talking). So get ready to wander the streets of Bucharest and soak in all the colorful and thought-provoking artwork around you.
10. Grab a book at Carturesti Carusel
It’s like a book nerd’s dream come true! Carturesti Carusel is a bookstore that’s so pretty, you’ll want to take a million pictures for Instagram. They’ve got archways, staircases, bookshelves, and columns that will make your heart skip a beat.
And if you thought that was enough, they’ve got a multimedia space, an art gallery, and a bistro too! I mean, who needs a boring old library when you can hang out in a place like this? It’s not just a bookstore, it’s a cultural experiment. They’ve created a space for people to read, socialize, be inspired, and connect. It’s like they’ve combined all the best things in life into one place.
In summary, Bucharest is a captivating city that boasts a harmonious blend of past and present. Its magnificent architectural gems such as the Palace of the Parliament, Romanian Athenaeum, and Arch of Triumph serve as a testament to the city’s rich history. Meanwhile, the Old Town takes visitors on a nostalgic journey with its medieval charm, and the serene Herăstrău and Cișmigiu parks offer a perfect escape from the bustling city life. Bucharest promises a memorable experience for any traveler. So, get your romanian visa and start visiting all these amazing places.
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