Bucharest, the capital city of Romania, has become, in recent years, one of the most sought destination for a city-break. If you don’t know what to see here, we’ve got you covered! Here are The Traveling Tulip’s top 5 things to see in Bucharest!
The House of the People / The Palace of Parliament
Built by former Communist leader, Nicolae Ceausescu, the building has some negative connotations for locals, especially since, for building it, Ceausescu destroyed an entire neighbourhood. Since 1994, the building hosts the Parliament of Romania. That is why it is, currently, better known as the Palace of Parliament.
Architecturally speaking, the building is, however, a gem. It is the second largest administrative building in the world, after the Pentagon. It also boasts the title of “heaviest building in the word”, with a total weight of approximately 4.5 billion tons. Maybe that is why, each year, the building sinks in the ground, with about 6 millimetres.
When building the House of the People, Ceausescu chose only the best materials, decors, and accessories. At the time of his death, in 1989, the building was not finished. With all the investments made, the building is still not finished today, in 2020. However, it is considered the most expensive building in the world, so, at least this accounts for something. The cost of heating and electric use and lighting alone exceeds $6 million per year, comparable to the total cost for powering a medium-sized city. And just to think, that it is not even used at its maximum capacity.
Fun fact about the Palace of the Parliament: it has a height of 86 meters, but it actually continues underground for 92 more meters!
Do you want to hear more stories about the Palace of the Parliament and the man who created it? Join our Bucharest Walking Tour and find out more about the world’s heaviest building!
Top 5 things to see in Bucharest
Located in the heart of Bucharest’s Old City Center, this location is an oasis of quiet and peace, perfect for catching a breath after a tour of the city. The patrons of the church (the saints to whom the church is dedicated) are St. Archangels Michael and Gabriel.
The church was built in 1724, by the owner of an inn. It was, in fact, located within the perimeter of the inn and it was sustained economically with the incomes from the inn (a relatively common situation in those times). Although, with time, the inn and part of the monastery were destroyed, but, in the 1900s, the courtyard and the nunnery were re-built, offering, nowadays, a great example of Neo-Romanian architecture.
The monastery houses today one of the largest collections of books, with over 8000 books of theology, byzantine music, arts and history. There are patristic, biblical, dogmatic, liturgic, historical, homiletic, catechetic writings, classic languages dictionaries and textbooks, studies on Byzantine art and Orthodox iconography, and on the Romanian history and civilization of the 18th century.
The Romanian Athenaeum
What is interesting about the building is that it was, in fact, built with public money. A group of cultural and scientific personalities started a campaign, to raise funds to built a place dedicated to art and science. After a 28-year-long effort, of which the slogan is still remembered today: “Donate one leu for the Ateneu!” (leu is the Romanian currency), the building opened its doors to the public, in 1888.
During Word War II, after magically escaping the bombings of the Americans and British, in the first part of 1944, the building is hit by the German forces, making it an almost total loss. After the war, efforts were made to rebuild the Athenaeum and, eventually, the concert hall became one of the most known in Europe.
Fun fact about the Romanian Athenaeum: the fresco which surrounds the main concert hall details scenes from Romania’s entire history.
Top 5 things to see in Bucharest
“Dimitrie Gusti” National Village Museum
The Village Museum is an open-air ethnographic museum located in the King Michael I Park (Bucharest, Romania), showcasing traditional Romanian village life. The museum extends to over 100,000 m2 and contains 272 authentic peasant farms and houses from all over Romania.
Created in 1936, the museum had its fair share of “bad moments”, with Word War II making it a refugee camp and the communist regime destroying almost everything, as part of an ideology that considered the Romanian village a non-worthy part of political and economical growth. Despite all these, the Village Museum managed to survive and grow, adding new elements of folk architecture to its collection, safeguarding the story of centuries of rural creation.
Fun facts about the Village Museum: the houses on display are real houses, moved from their original locations in the museum and decorated to match the period or region they come from. Also, in the museum, there is a historical inn, which is still functioning. You can serve lunch there and get into the atmosphere of the Romanian village.
Did you know that Bucharest is also known as “Little Paris”? If you want to find out why Bucharest got this nickname, join our Bucharest Walking Tour! We’ve got stories to tell!
The Arch of Triumph
The first, wooden, triumphal arch was built hurriedly, after Romania gained its independence (1878), so that the victorious troops could march under it. After World War I, in 1922, the arch was re-built, with concrete and plaster. King Ferdinand and Queen Marie of Romania rode underneath it, in another gesture of victory, celebrating the fact that Europe recognized the Great Romania as an independent country. Eventually, in 1936, the arch was re-built, this time in stone and inaugurated on December 1 of the same year.
Presently, military parades are held beneath the arch each December 1, with the occasion of Romania’s national holiday.
Fun fact about the Bucharest Arch of Triumph: if you find yourself walking past the arch on week-end nights, do not be surprised if you see a bride dancing with the wedding party. It appears that stealing the bride and taking her to dance underneath the arch has become a rather known Bucharest tradition.