Nicknamed “Little Paris”, Bucharest’s elegant early 20th-century architecture shows French influences :
Revolution Square (Piata Revolutiei)
The square gained worldwide notoriety when TV stations around the globe broadcasted Nicolae Ceausescu’s final moments in power on December 21, 1989. It was here, at the balcony of the former Communist Party Headquarters, that Ceausescu stared in disbelief as the people gathered in the square below turned on him. The square’s importance stretches back long before the dramatic events of the 1989 Revolution. On the far side of the square stands the former Royal Palace, now home to the National Art Museum and the stunning Romanian Athenaeum. At the south end of the square, you must visit the small, but beautiful, Kretzulescu Church.
Royal Palace / National Art Museum (Palatul Regal)
Erected between 1927 and 1937 in neoclassical style, the palace was home to King Carol II and to his son, King Mihai I, until 1947, when the monarchy was abolished in Romania. It was inside the halls of this palace that King Mihai, aged 18, led a coup that displaced the pro-Nazi government during the World War II and put Romania on the Allies’ side. Today, the former Royal palace houses the Romanian National Art Museum.
Romanian Athenaeum concert hall (Ateneul Roman)
The work of French architect Albert Galleron, who also designed the National Bank of Romania, the Athenaeum was completed in 1888, financed almost entirely with money donated by the general public. Inside the concert hall, voluptuous frescoes cover the ceiling and walls. Renowned worldwide for its outstanding acoustics, it is Bucharest’s most prestigious concert hall and home of the Romanian George Enescu Philharmonic.
Royal Palace Great Concert Hall (Sala Palatului)
Located behind the Royal Palace, the concave-roof structure was built in 1960 to accommodate the 3,000 Communist party members who every five years attended the communist party congress. It was on this stage Nicolae Ceausescu would deliver his vision of a multilaterally developed socialist society. Today, the massive auditorium plays host to various conferences,international events and concerts including some of the George Enescu International Festival.
The Military Club (Cercul Militar National)
Standing guard imposingly, this neoclassical masterpiece, designed by Romanian architect Dimitrie Maimaroiu, was built in 1912 to serve the social, cultural and educational needs of the Romanian army. The main part of the building is off-limits to civilians, but the sumptuous restaurant and summer terrace is open to the public.
The Beer Cart Restaurant (Carul cu Bere)
Opened in 1879, this famous restaurant and beer house soon became one of the most popular meeting places for Bucharest’s literati who would gather to discuss matters of their time. Its neo-gothic architectural style is reflected both in the façades and the interior decorations: columns, arches, chandeliers, a wooden staircase, furniture and murals on the walls and ceiling.
Restaurant Hanu Berarilor (ex Casa Bucur) The main building was built in 1914 in neo-Romanian style as designed by the renown architect Petre Antonescu.The building is in the middle of extensive gardens, a total land of 2.964m2 (including the built). Romanian folkloric show.
Parliament Palace (Palatul Parlamentului – Casa Poporului)
Creating his ideal socialist capital, Ceauşescu destroyed 5 km2 of Bucharest’s historical center, demolishing over 9000 19th-century houses and displacing more than 40,000 people. The Civic Center (Centru Civic) he built lies at the end of the 6km Unirii Bldv, and is 1meter wider than its inspiration, the Champs-Élysées. Its centerpiece, the Parliamentary Palace, is the world’s second-largest building (after the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.). As much as 80% of Romania’s GDP was consumed during its construction. It took 20,000 workers and 700 architects to build. Today, it houses Romania’s Parliament and serves as an international conference centre. Built and furnished exclusively with Romanian materials, the building reflects the work of the country’s best artisans. A guided tour takes visitors through a small section of dazzling rooms, huge halls and quarters used by the Senate (when not in session). The interior is a luxurious display of crystal chandeliers, mosaics, oak paneling, marble, gold leaf, stained-glass windows and floors covered in rich carpets.
Metropolitan Church (Biserica Patriarhiei)
Set a top one of the city’s few hills, known as Mitropoliei, the Metropolitan Church has been the centerpiece of the Romanian Orthodox faith since the 17th century. The church was built by Constantin Serban Basarab, ruler of the province of Walachia between 1656 and 1658, to a design inspired by the Curtea de Arges monastery. It became the Metropolitan Church in 1668 and the seat of the Romanian Orthodox Church in 1925.The Byzantine interior, containing the most dazzling of the city’s iconostasis, as well as a couple of exquisitely carved side altars, bestows great beauty on the services presided over by the Romanian Patriarch. A huge crowd gathers here for the Easter midnight service. The outstanding bell-tower at the entrance was built in 1698 and restored in 1958. Next to the church, and closed to the public, is the Patriarchal Palace (1708), residence of the Teoctist, supreme leader of the Romanian Orthodox Church.