With a population of almost two million inhabitants, Bucharest is the most important Romanian city. Its culture results from a mixture of Eastern and Western European influences, with art galleries and nightlife pulsing in clubs and casinos - a unique experience for any tourist.
The first documentary evidence of Bucharest dates back to 1459: a document issued by Vlad Tepes (the Impaler), the prince that inspired the famous Carpathian legend. Another legend describes an illuminated founder, a shepherd, Bucur, who is said to have founded a church on the place where he grazed his sheep.
thA city of paradoxes and contrasts, Bucharest is the miraculous result of ecclesiastic arhitecture. From Curtea Veche - the ruins of ancient palace built by Vlad Tepes in the 15th century - to the Orthodox churches and the Parliament Palace, built in the communist era and the second biggest building in the world after Pentagon, Bucharest exhibits its more than half a millennium old story, each century leaving its mark in a distinct and original way. In the 30s, boulevards bordered by trees and the 'fin de siecle' arhitecture won this city the name of little Paris. The resemblance is a true as anywhere here on Kisseleff Street - a bit longer than the Champs Elysee - where the visitor can see a faithful copy of the Arch of Triumph from the French capital.
In the north, in Herastrau pars, is the Village Museum. Starting from 1935, rural households were brought here piece by piece from all corners of the country. The National Art Museum is sheltered by the Royal Palace; the National History Museum, on Calea Victoriei, is a reference point for the cultural life of the city.
Things to see
The Palace of Parliament - also called the House of People or the House of Ceausescu has been built between 1984-1989 and it represents the grandest administrative construction in Europe. It has hundreds of offices, halls for receptions or for other events (scientific, cultural, social-political), dozens of conference rooms. It covers 265.000 sqm interior surface, being the second biggest in the world after the Pentagon building in Washington. It is also the third in the world considering its volume, after Cape Canaveral building, USA (where the cosmic shuttles are assembled) and after the Quetzalcoatl pyramid in Mexico.
The Village Museum - one of the world's most interesting ethnographical parks in open air. Founded in 1936 by Dimitrie Gusti following a Royal Decree, this museum illustrates the perpetual spring of surprising originality. The house and house holding samples gathered from all regions of the country are exhibited according to ethnographical areas. Here you can see 50 complete homesteads, churches, windmills and even sunken houses from rural Romania.
Patriarchal Church - is the majestic centre of the Romanian Orthodox faith. During the 15th century a small wooden church surrounded by vineyards stood on the hill. The Cathedral consecrated the Metropolitan Centre of Walachia in 1868, and was built between 1656 and 1658 by Walachian Prince Serban Basarab. None of the original interior paintings or icons remains but a single icon (1665) depicting Constantin and Helen, the Cathedral's patron Saints. The present day frescoes were painted by Dimitrie Belizarie in 1923.
The National Museum of Art - located in the building of the former Royal Palace.After more than 10 years of restoration to the extensive damage caused during the revolution in 1989, one can admires treasure painted by Rembrandt, Veneziano, Monet, Sisley, El Greco, Breughel and Rubens. During the fighting in December 1989, 448 works of art were destroyed or went missing and another 716 were damaged. A total of 18 valuable paintings were generously restored and cleaned by museums in the Netherlands, USA, Italy and France.
The Romanian Athaeneum - this was the headquarters of Romanian Athenaeum Society, seated up at 28 January 1965, which had as purpose spreading cultural and scientific information. The land was the Vacaresti family's property, where a church was built and then became the property of Romanian Equestrian Society, who wanted to build a manege. This seems to be explanations for the round shape of the building. The projects of the building are made by Albert Galleron (France) helped by C. Baicoianu and was inaugurated in February 1888.
"Curtea Veche" (The old court) Church - is one of the valuable exemplary of religious architecture in the feudal epoch, the oldest in Bucharest, preserved in its original form. It was build between 1545 - 1547, by the King Mircea Ciobanul, for the needs of the Royal Court. There also preserved some frescos from the reign of Stefan Cantacuzino (who made some repairing). It is declared historical monument.
The Kretzulescu Church - a monument synthesizing in its architecture, the art of the Brancoveanu epoch. It was built in 1720-1722, through the care of great cancelor Iordache Kretzulescu and his wife, Safta (one of the daughters of Constantin Brancoveanu). The interior wall painting was realized (1859-1860) by Gheorghe Tattarescu - famous Romanian painter.
The University Palace - erected between 1857 and 1869, according to the plans of the architect Al. Orascu, who was helped in decorating the exterior by Karol Storck. In this massive construction, there functions the oldest institution of university education in Bucharest.
The Palace of Justice - erected in 1890-1895, in a French Rennaissance style, following the plans of the architect A. Ballu. The construction was finished by Ion Mincu. The statues that mark the entrance are the work of Karol Storck and they symbolize the Law, the Righteousness, the Justice, the Truth, the Force and the Prudence.
The Arch of Triumph - inaugurated on 1st December 1936, glorifies the bravery of the Romanian soldiers who fought in the First World War, celebrating at the same time the 1918 Union of Romanian provinces. Designed by the architect Petre Antonescu, the monument is 27 m high.
The "Cotroceni" Palace - built in 1893, after the plan of French architect Paul Gottereau, as the permanent residence of the heir Prince Ferdinand.At the present , it is used as a residence of the President of Romania.
The Peasant Museum - You'll find inside collections of a special historic and artistic value, records, patrimonial objects consisting in a glass-negatives, engravings, peasant costumes, traditional furniture, wood and glass paintings, ceramics. The building is an architectural monument. It was founded in 1906 as a Museum of Decorative and Industrial Art of King Carol the First initiative. In 1912 it became the National Art Museum, in 1946, the Museum of National Ethnography and art and in 1990 it became the Museum of the Romanian Peasant.
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