Bucharest: City of Contrasts
You do not get to see only Dracula when you visit Bucharest. Bucharest has history and art, food and drinks, tradition and modernity. Bucharest offers an adventure for every traveler who is looking for one. The city is dynamic, colorful and enchanting in so many different ways.
In the capital of Romania, travelers can see wide boulevards with heavy traffic, but also hidden allies full of surprisingly cozy cafes and restaurants. There are communist-era monuments, but also modern offices. The people of the city where Prince Vlad III (“The Impaler”) once ruled are smiling, running late for work, shopping or simply avoiding another tourist that may ask for directions. Bucharest is a city of contrasts.
One of the amazing buildings which were constructed recently is the National Theater Bucharest (NTB). The original theater was built in 1852. The new NTB building is fascinating because it combines traditional Romanian architecture with the spirit of modernity. The theater was reconstructed between 2010 and 2014. The major hall has the capacity of 900 seats, making it the largest theater building in Europe. In front of it, you can see a beautiful sculpture, a tribute to one of Romania’s most loved playwrights, Ion Luca Caragiale.
Fun fact – there are many things you get to see and experience just in one day in the capital of Romania. Simply going around some of the major landmarks in the city center will take several hours. Not to mention the visits in some of the enormous museums which hold much of the Romanian history. When you get tired, winter Bucharest may surprise you with a glass of hot wine in a cozy restaurant.
Bucharest is a city full of mystery. There is history, architecture, style but also modernity and order. Massive communist-era monuments are now homes to some of the key democratic institutions in the country. What a paradox.
Palatal Parlamatului, or the so-called Palace of the Parliament.
This extravagant project is one of the major landmarks in Romania. Completed in 1997, this building is the second-largest administrative building in the world, after the Pentagon in the States. The communist leader Nicola Ceausescu got the idea after visiting North Korea. He wanted to build a civic building which will hold all administrative functions of the state, and serve as a permanent and lavish residence for him and his wife. The project began in 1984. Rumor says that about 20, 000 workers worked 24-hour shifts, seven days a week in order to finish the project at the required time.
- The palace has 1, 100 rooms
- Height – 84 meters
- The building is valued at around $3.4 billion
- The electricity and heating cost are the equivalent of a medium-sized city
- 700 architects worked on the architecture of the building
- There is an underground bunker which is linked with 20 km of tunnels to important administrative buildings
- The building sinks 6 mm per year due to its massive weight
Strikingly, the architecture in Romania does not match the one in some of the other former communist countries. Here the style embodies both traditional Romanian style with several others such as Roman, neoclassical, Art Deco, Avant-Garde, Bauhaus and modern. Many of the buildings are inspired by foreign styles or are work of foreign architects from France, England, Italy and other destinations.
No map and still not lost in Bucharest
The city’s plan is so well developed that even without a map one cannot get lost. In fact, unlike other major cities that grew over time without a specific infrastructure plan, Bucharest has one. An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.2 struck the country on March 4, 1977, and destroyed a large part of the city. Ceausescu saw this as an opportunity to realize his plans for a renewal of the capital. Bucharest was heavily reconstructed after that, with one of the major projects being the People’s House (the current Palace of the Parliament).