Bucharest - old town and communist past

Bucharest Travel Blog

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Building next to the Danish embassy

I got to Bucharest late last night after flying in from Copenhagen via Frankfurt - unfortunately the direct flight connections did not start until the end of March. I had kind of thought about giving Bucharest a miss - I have not heard anything good about the city but lots of bad stuff like loads of street dogs that might attack you the general crime rate being pretty high and that the city is pretty boring in itself.

 

But hey you got to give it a change so here I am ready to go out and explore this city. I walk from where I stay in an embassy neighbourhood a bit out of the centre of town and start to walk down one of the bigger roads to the centre of town. I see a police officer standing in front of the Belgian embassy guarding it and walk past him.

Old princely court and church area

 

There are some nice buildings and I want to take a photo - hence I take out my camera and take a photo of some of the old large villas. I don't really notice but the officer comes up and tells me I am standing in front of an embassy and I am not allowed to take photos. I say ok and put away the camera - then I want to look and see what embassy I am in front of - hmm there is something kind of familiar with that code of arms hanging on the entrance door. I find the sign - and yes it is indeed the Danish embassy. It would have been kind of ironic if I had been arrested for taking a photo of the Danish embassy but at least it would have been pretty easy to get diplomatic assistance. Well the officer is ok about it anyway and I continued my walk towards the centre.

 

The old communist leader Nicolae Ceauşescu managed to destroy a pretty big part of the old town.

Old princely court and church area the area for the candles
But he did leave some of it - so there are actually some very nice spots to explore in the centre with old orthodox churches and nice older buildings. Walking around there is virtually free of other tourist except being so unfortunate as to get to the old princely court at the same time as a big tour group is there full of old Americans. But they leave pretty quickly so I got the place to myself and some of the locals.

 

There is a small church at the sight and here I notice one think for the first time. There are no candles inside the church - they are all outside in a small building next to the church. Contrary to all the catholic churches I have been to where there is always a lot of candles in the church here is none. This gives a completely different smell to the inner church as well when you don't have all the candles.

Electric wirering Romanian style.
I don't really know why they have left them outside if it because of fire hazards or because the smoke destroy the interior of the church but it is different. The same is the fact that like in all orthodox churches there is virtually no seats inside - people are supposed to stand during mass.

 

From the old princely court I head towards the giant Palace of Parliament - formerly know as the Palace of the People. This building was Ceauşescu big effort to remodel the workers paradise of communistic Romania the building in itself is enormous it is the second biggest building in the world when it come to square meters of floor level only the Pentagon is bigger. And this was built in a time where most Romanians did not have enough decent food to eat on a daily basis.

Reflektion of old on new.
 Actually the building started in 1984 and was only 60 percent finish when Ceauşescu were overthrown and later executed in December 1989. But it was decided to finish the building which is still not completely finish there still needs some work at the underground levels and the roof.

 

Well I want to see this place and go there to join a tour. There is a massive chaos at the entrance as we need to go through the metal detectors to get in. Part of the building is closed of because of the upcoming NATO summit which is to take place in the beginning of April. I get in and go on the one hour tour (which the guide manages to complete in about 40 minutes including a bathroom break). Inside is several massive halls which are very exclusively decorated only using Romanian materials. This place has cost a fortune to make and to build it one sixth of Bucharest were levelled thousands of people lost there homes and had to be relocated in the same process several churches and a local hospital were removed as well.

Palace of Parlement
It should be the final triumph for the victory of communism in Romania but can better be described as the final act of madness by Ceauşescu.

 

From the balcony is a great view over the boulevard Unirii. This boulevard is made as a copy of the Champs-Elysées in Paris of course this tribute to the communistic workers paradise had to be just a little bit longer and a little bit wider as well - and so it is. Along this big boulevard are a lot of big blocks of houses including residential houses. You got to let Ceauşescu that his architect is somewhat more inspired than the one who designed Soviet housing block model 7A1 or whatever the model for housing blocks was - it always seem like there was only one type used all over Eastern Europe.

Looking at Boulevard Unirii from the balcony of the Palace of Parlement

 

The blocks along Boulevard Urinii had a special featured they were design to hide all the churches just behind the boulevard so the happy atheistic workers in the workers paradise of Romania did not get there nervous unsettled by the sight of some church right next to the boulevard of triumph for communism. Hence you can not see the churches but take a short detour of only 10-20 meters behind the boulevard and you can see some old monasteries.

 

After having looked around in the old communistic area I walk back towards the old town and up towards another embassy area with different high class villas from old days.
Monastery just behind the Boulevard Unirii
Actually I think Bucharest is sort of an attracting city it have not got the major attractions like Budapest or Prague but it also lacks the same amounts of tourist which in my opinion make Prague into a very unpleasant place to walk around. Maybe the sunshine helps and the fact that I for the first time this year is able to walk around Europe without lots of cloth on.
yheleen says:
i love castles!!!
Posted on: May 20, 2008
IceTea says:
I've been wondering if I should go to Bucharest or fly to Cluj and Sighisoara straight. Do u think it's really worth it? I like the pictures though.
Posted on: Apr 22, 2008
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Building next to the Danish embassy
Building next to the Danish embassy
Old princely court and church area
Old princely court and church area
Old princely court and church area…
Old princely court and church are…
Electric wirering Romanian style.
Electric wirering Romanian style.
Reflektion of old on new.
Reflektion of old on new.
Palace of Parlement
Palace of Parlement
Looking at Boulevard Unirii from t…
Looking at Boulevard Unirii from …
Monastery just behind the Boulevar…
Monastery just behind the Bouleva…
Building across the Danish Embasy
Building across the Danish Embasy
Building across from the Danish Em…
Building across from the Danish E…
Old princely court and church area
Old princely court and church area
Old princely court and church area…
Old princely court and church are…
Central Bank
Central Bank
Palace of Parlement
Palace of Parlement
Boulevard Unirii
Boulevard Unirii
Palace of Parlement
Palace of Parlement
Looking at Boulevard Unirii from t…
Looking at Boulevard Unirii from …
Palace of Parlement
Palace of Parlement
Monastery just behind the Boulevar…
Monastery just behind the Bouleva…
Patriach cahtedral - must have bee…
Patriach cahtedral - must have be…
Building at Boulevard Unirii
Building at Boulevard Unirii
Sqaure of the Revolution
Sqaure of the Revolution
The not so triumphant arch
The not so triumphant arch
Bucharest Sights & Attractions review
The Palace of Parliament
Ceausescu did leave several marks on Romania but none legacy is more bombastic than one building the Palace of Parliament in the Bucharest. The buildi… read entire review
Bucharest
photo by: tm16dana