Bucharest is, by far, the preference of choice when it comes to flying to Romania, most travelers spending their first night in the capital city. With a distinctive charm and a unique mélange of French, Balkan, and modern architectural traits, `Little Paris of the East` is the place to be at the beginning of your Romanian adventure. Let us present you some of the most important accessible attractions in Bucharest!
The Palace of Parliament
Most popular attraction of Bucharest, and the second most visited in the country, Palace of Parliament is a must see place for the majority of travelers. Its story intertwines with the communist times and dates back to 1970s. The 1977 earthquake leveled down many old buildings located in central Bucharest. It was exactly what our communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu needed so his plans to become a reality. Inspired by several visits to North Korea and China, Ceausescu dreamt of having building larger and taller than those Pyongyang have. He thought it was a way to protect himself from any potential natural disasters or nuclear threats. Remember that Cold War was a bitter reality back then.
The winning architect had 28 years and was a woman, Anca Petrescu on her name. She competed against 17 teams of architects. Around 20,000 workers and 700 architects worked to build the massive construction from 1983 to December 1989, when the Revolution put an end to Nicolae Ceausescu`s regime. Only Romanian materials were used during those years and only Romanians could have worked on the construction site.
More than 30,000 old houses, 19 orthodox churches, 6 synagogues and 3 protestant churches disappeared under the excavators that leveled down the old byzantine-style Uranus neighborhood. On the other hand, one engineer had a brilliant idea and translated some old churches and monasteries behind the new 10 floors communist buildings. If Nicolae Ceausescu didn`t see the old churches, he just thought they were demolished.
During your accessible tour inside the building, you`ll learn more about the construction while our guide will unfold some very peculiar stories about Nicolae Ceausescu`s corks. Just one short example. While having a work visit on the boulevard in front of the palace, Ceausescu asked for lime trees on one side of the street and oak trees on the other without clearly specifying what would be the reference point. Landscapers were too afraid to ask for further details so they planted limes and oak trees on both sides.
The list of urban stories can go on and on, some referring even to a network of tunnels and nuclear bunkers built under the building.
The National Art Museum
Rising tall in the Revolution Square, the former Royal Palace hosts the National Art Museum with its Romanian and European art collections. The central part of the impressive Neoclassical building dating back to 1930s includes the former royal halls and chambers, open now for the public to visit. An accessible tour of the museum is possible with a prior notice.
The French architect Paul Gottereau designed the first royal palace for our first king, Carol. Sadly, the palace burnt to the ground during a great fire in 1926. Our third king, Carol 2nd wanted a more impressive palace and commissioned a completely new building.
The communist regime seized the palace in 1947 and used it for official meetings and dinner parties. Located just across Nicolae Ceausescu`s office, the palace was heavily damaged during the 1989 revolution. It was only in 2000, after a decade of reconstruction, that people could visit the palace again.
Two of the oldest and most famous parks of Bucharest offer an accessible and friendly experience for our guests.
Cismigiu is the oldest park in Bucharest, its history dating back to mid-19 century when Wilhelm Mayer, the former director of Vienna Imperial Gardens, landscaped a swamp into a true English garden. The park has 16 hectares of land and a cute English pond in the middle, perfect for boat riding in the summer or ice-skating in the winter.
The largest park in Bucharest is Herastrau, located in the northern part of the city near the Arch of Triumph. The whole area was just a big collection of marshes formed around Colentina Lake until early 1930s when King Carol 2nd commissioned the work. On one side of the park, not far from the Arch of Triumph, it is located the open air Village Museum, opened in the same time with the Park, namely 1936.