Bucharest, Romania’s bustling capital, features open boulevards shaded by canopies of leafy trees and an intriguing mix of neoclassical, medieval, and art nouveau buildings. This enchanting city offers her fortunate guests a fascinating glimpse into a rich and colorful tapestry of art, history, and culture.
Nestled on the banks of the Dâmbovița River, Bucharest attracts visitors from all over the world, keen to experience life in the city, known as the “Paris of the East” in the 1900s. The locals are proud of their very own Arc de Triomphe, built-in 1922, in memory of fallen compatriots, lost in WW1, and the Romanian Athenaeum building, included on the list of European Heritage sites; is a very popular venue, which presents classical music concerts and is home to the George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra.
For a glimpse of history take a leisurely stroll along Victory Avenue, named after the 1877 – 1878 Russo Turkish war, when Romania, fighting with the Russians, gained independence from the Ottoman Empire. The road was originally built with oak beams in 1692 linking Old Princely Court, a residence constructed during the rule of Vlad III Dracula in the 15th century, to the Mogosoaia Palace, a fine example of Romanian Renaissance architecture and once a popular meeting place in the 1930s for prominent politicians and international society.
Make your way to the Lipscani district, a meandering maze of streets, which reflect an affluent air of a bygone era in the 1400s, when blacksmiths, furriers, and cobblers vied for passing trade on the narrow cobblestone streets. Today, the area houses intriguing antiques shops and bustling art galleries and with the enticing aroma of the local coffee houses hanging in the air, stop for a shot of caffeine and a pastry before continuing your journey.
Head for the rectangular courtyard known as Hanul cu Tei and be prepared to be mesmerized by an abundance of quirky shops, again brimming with art and antiques. Even the most resistant will be persuaded to browse for hours and ultimately to part with a substantial sum of Romanian Leu.
To view a vast collection of national treasures, visit the National Art Museum, founded in 1948 to display the royal collection, which dates back to the 15th century. The collection includes over 100,000 exhibits featuring masterpieces by El Greco, Renoir, Monet, Cezanne, Rubens, and Rembrandt, along with the works of major Romanian artists such as Andreescu, Aman, and Grigorescu. There is also a display of Brancusi sculpture, which is simply magnificent.
For those with a thirst for traditional culture, visit the Museum of the Romanian Peasant, located on Șoseaua Kiseleff. The museum displays the most wonderful examples of colorful traditional costumes, beautiful ceramics and icons, and an extensive array of other artifacts associated with Romanian peasant life. During Romania’s Communist era, the museum only displayed exhibits representing and approved by the Communist party. Six weeks after the fall of Communism the building reopened with the focus on celebrating Romanian traditional culture and all the artifacts that were associated with Communism were moved to a room in the basement, where they can still be viewed.
The Museum of Romanian History, located within the former postal palace on Calea Victoriei, is another popular attraction, and displays include expansive collections of artifacts reflecting Romanian history and culture dating back from the contemporary era to prehistoric times. The most frequently visited rooms include those in the Philately Museum and the rooms containing the Romanian Crown Jewels, featuring glittering crowns, scepters, swords, and exquisite pieces of jewelry.
After exploring such a wide area you will no doubt need to recuperate. For a taste of luxury, consider the Marmorosch Hotel, which is located within a stone’s throw from Bucharest’s Old Town, and surrounded by captivating boutiques, buzzing cafes, and restaurants. This ornate property, which housed Romania’s most influential bank during the 19th century, opened in June and has retained many of its grand features. Accommodations are inspired by the Art Deco style and are spacious, elegant, and comfortable. Tall ceilings, rich furnishings, wide windows offering spectacular views, and all draped in luxurious fabrics, ensure that the guest feels relaxed and pampered.
Facilities include an exquisite spa with an indoor pool, which is the perfect spot to unwind after investigating the city’s many attractions.
Indulge in a tipple or two at the hotel’s Blank Bar and Lounge, which is located in the Grand Library, or visit The Vault, a speak-easy bar, situated in an old bank vault. Dine in the hotel’s Blank Restaurant, which presents a choice of Romanian gastronomic traditions, along with contemporary fine dining, or set off in search of an alternative venue. For an informal evening, visit Uptown, a very popular contemporary restaurant located in Bucharest’s diplomatic area. The wine list is impressive, the menu offers an extensive selection of delicious European dishes and the service is good. For those with a penchant for Jazz and a thirst for an ale or two visits the Art Jazz Club on Bucuresti, Calea Victoriei, a lively spot to get your toes tapping and always bustling with life and music.
Bucharest, an ideal destination for a city break, is bursting with life and offers a veritable kaleidoscope of Romanian history, culture, art, and music. Consider taking a Romanian weekend break, you won’t be disappointed.