When it comes to travel, Bucharest remains one of the main tourist gates to Romania. The distinctive air of the city, a charming combination of “little Paris of East”, Balkan influence and modern architecture makes the Romania’s capital a place you want to be in. In this article, we are here to help you with information about attractions and sights in Bucharest which are also wheelchair accessible.
Bucharest parks – the green land of Bucharest
The parks of Bucharest are the green land of the capital – large oasis of greenery and nature. The alleys are wheelchair accessible and friendly, the land abounds in sunshine and pleasant shadows of the giant trees. So why don’t we take a virtual tour of two of the most representatives parks of the city?
Cismigiu is the oldest and most elegant park in Bucharest. Trolling on the 16 hectares paths of this park is like going back to 19th century, at the time it opened. That English romantic look, secular trees, sculpture on the alley, the bridges over the water, the small boats floating over the lake or the skating ring during the winter transforms the several hours spent in the peaceful landscape into a life recharging resources.
The origin of the park dates back in mid-19th century, when Wilhelm Mayer, the former director of Vienna Imperial Gardens transformed the place into the most beautiful public garden of Bucharest.
Herastrau, now the most popular and largest park in Bucharest, used to be an area of marshes and mud in the north of Bucharest. The 74 hectares of park were developed around the lakes of Colentina River in 1936. In time Herastrau became more and popular due to its attractions and positioning in the posh area of the capital. The unique vegetation, including Tagore’s oak, places Herastrau on map of relaxing free leisure.
The Palace of Parliament
The story of the Palace of Parliaments starts with the earthquake in 1977, when drama of old buildings showed its ugly face. The communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu decided to systematize the aspect of Bucharest and, deeply impressed by his recent visit to North Korea, wanted for his capital city to have a more impressive building than Pyongyang which would defend him from natural disasters or from potential nuclear threats, as the Cold War was ongoing in 1980s.
The design contest took almost one year; 17 teams of elite architects participated, and the winner was the 28 years old architect, Ms. Anca Petrescu.
Everybody knows that the Palace of Parliament is set on Arsenal hill, but it is less acknowledged that this was artificially made. 7 sqkm of the precious neighborhood were demolished, and the old byzantine-style heart of the city (30.000 old mansions and houses, 19 orthodox churches, 6 synagogues, 3 protestant worship places) disappeared. Among them historical buildings such as Sfanta Vineri Church (1650), Antim Monastery (1715), Vacaresti Monastery (1736), Brancovenesc Hospital (1838), Mina Minovici Forensic Medical Investigation Institute (1892). Fortunately, for some of old churches (e.g. Schitul Maicilor – 1726 or Sfantul Ioan Nou – 1756) a translation technique could be applied, and others (e.g. Mihai Voda Church – 1564, a small part of the Mihai Voda Ensemble that is still in place) have been literally hidden behind the new 10+ blocks alongside the Victory of Socialism Boulevard (nowadays named Liberty Boulevard) and thus saved from disappearing. 60.000 people relocated to other parts of the new city.
The entire labor force was brought from all over Romania – up to 100.000 persons worked there, managed by 200 architects. From cement and marble to crystals and carpets, all were materials of Romanian origin.
There were gossip stories about the exigence of the communist party leading couple. For example, it is said that during a working inspection, Nicolae Ceausescu was on the main boulevard to the People’s House or the Republic’s House (how the Palace was named during those times) and asked to have lime trees on one hand of the road, oaks on the other, showing the both sides of the road. Then he turned around and repeated the assertion. Urbanist around went confused and as they were too scared to ask for details, they planted on each side of the road lime and oak trees, thus however the president should turn will have lime trees on right side of the road, oak trees on the left.
There are plenty of urban stories about this place, never proved true. It is said there are underground tunnels for escape and solid bunkers. It might be true… or not.
The National Museum of Art of Romania – museum for all
The National Museum of Arts of Romania is an enchanting piece of art and architecture, beyond the art of the collections within the beautiful adorned walls.
As we speak accessibility, the museum is endowed with ramp and lift, hence friendly with low mobility tourists. The visiting arrangements should be done prior visiting.
As we highly encourage you to visit the museum, we are not to speak about the paintings and art collections, but about the fervent history of the building. Along time, this edifice, also known as Royal Palace was the residence of the most important Romanians and its history is one of glory – decay and renaissance.
It was early 1800 when Dinicu Golescu, a Wallachian boyar built the southern side of the palace. Two decades later, the Palace is inhabited by the local Prince Alexandru Ghica. After Union, Alexandru Ioan Cuza transformed the Palace into a place of living and dedicated to ceremonies.
It was the Royal Monarchy and King Carol Ist who transformed the face of the Palace into a worthily palace for The Little Paris of East. Repeatedly, the King employed architects like Paul Gottereau, French and Karl Liman (Czech) to expand and renew the aspect of the building. For those who travel to Romania, the name of these two gains significance by visiting Peles Castle (Liman) or admiring the eclectic architecture of Savings Bank Palace on Victoriei Avenue (Gottereau).
The faith of the Palace changed in 1926, during King Ferdinand’s reign, when a big fire affected the entire building. Between 1930 and 1940, the Royal Palace was renewed, expanded and transformed into a shining edifice with the contribution to a Romanian talented architect – N. Nenciulescu.
When communist party took over the leadership of Romania, the Palace became the National Museum of Arts of Romania. It was the fall of communism in 1989 that brought much sorrow and damage to Palace once more. As the Headquarters of the communist party was right across the Palace, the building was affected by fires, shooting and people’s fury. The art collections were massively bedraggled, as well.
It took a decade (1990-2000) for the Palace to be refurbished and opened to the public. Now you can benefit and admire both the palace and art collections.
Join us and discover the unseen story of Bucharest!