The Modern City of Bucharest

We returned to Bucharest after our short trip to Transylvania. The capital of Romania is quite a modern city, although there are plenty of buildings dating back to the countries’ Communist past. Yet, alongside old churches and neoclassical buildings, the hotels, bars, and restaurants in the Old City give the city a modern feeling.

The biggest square of the city is Unirii Square, where our walking tour started. The square consist of a large park, and a series of fountains along Unirii Boulevard. The surroundings of the park give the area a very Eastern-European look.

• Unirii Square.

At the western end of Unirii Boulevard you can find the impressive Palace of Parliament. The palace is the second-largest administrative building in the world, only behind the Pentagon in Washington D.C. in the United States. Apart from the government, the building is also home to three museums, and conference center.

• Unirii Boulevard and Palace of Parliament at the other end.

We turned back towards the Old Center, which consists of smaller buildings, cobblestone streets, making it very picturesque. Our first stop was at Manuc’s Inn, the oldest hotel in Bucharest, in service since the mid-19th century. Apart from a hotel, the building also contains a restaurant, some bars, and boutique shops.

• Manuc’s Inn.

Across the street from Manuc’s Inn you will see a very colorful church. It is the Biserica Sfântul Anton (St. Anthony’s Church), an orthodox church dating back about 600 years. Over the centuries, the church was rebuilt several times, its current form dates back to 1928.

• Biserica Sfântul Anton.

Going deeper into the Old Town, you will find more and more bars and restaurants along the cobblestone streets. During summer, the terraces are filled with tourists and locals enjoying the weather.

• Old Town.

On the edge of the center you can find another small church, the Biserica Stavropoleos. This monastery was built in 1724, yet demolished at the end of the 20th century, only to be rebuild from the ground up a few years later. These days, tourists are invited to see the monastery, say their prayer, or simply make a donation.

• Biserica Stavropoleos.

A little bit further out, you can find the National History Museum. Similar in style to the Palace of Parliament, the museum is a gigantic building. It houses over 60 exhibition rooms, with the Romanian Crown Jewels as one of the main displays.

• National History Museum.

Further north, a bit out of the city center, you will find a series of monuments on Revolution Square. The most impressive one is the Memorial of Rebirth, commemorating the victims of the Romanian Revolution of 1989, which overthrew Communism.

• Memorial of Rebirth.

Just behind the square you will stumble upon a beautiful garden, and another neoclassical building. It is the Romanian Athenaeum, a main landmark and concert hall of Bucharest.

• Romanian Athenaeum.

Finally, looping back towards Unirii Square where our walking tour started, you will notice a few distortions in the buildings. For example, the tiny Biserica Sfântul Ioan Nou (New St. John’s Church) seems quite out of place, located between the large apartment blocks. The church dates back to the 18th century, and thanks to the local community it was never demolished when apartments were erected alongside.

• Biserica Sfântul Ioan Nou.

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We, Mark & Herta, are currently backpacking through Europe, and eventually planning to settle in London. Beyond that? The possibilities are endless.

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