It’s easy to observe that many of the churches in Bucharest are hidden either behind or between larger modern buildings. But this is not because people lost faith or they did not care any longer about the church in their neighbourhood.
Communists did not believe in anything other than themselves, but this was not enough. Ceausescu, the last of the communist rulers of Romania, hated to see churches while going by car through Bucharest. Besides, we wanted both to systematise the city after his own criteria and to leave his mark through the history of the city.
So in the mid ‘80s, he ordered many churches to be demolished to make way for his grandiose plans. Some architects tried to protect monument churches and monasteries in the city centre as much as they could, and in some cases they succeeded. Therefore, some churches were literally moved from their initial location by even 500m, while others have been “hidden from sight”, by raising tall blocks either in front of them, or on each of their sides.
Unfortunately, the propensity of architects to build large buildings in the close vicinity of old churches continues nowadays. There’s an 18 story office building under construction within 10m from the Armenian Church, while another 22 story building seems to be raised near the catholic cathedral.
Favorite thing: The National Bank of Romania sits on the site of one of the most famous buildings in Bucharest, Hanul Serban Voda (Serban Voda Inn) which was located here between the years of 1678-1883. In 1883 work began on the National Bank building, after a design by the French architects Cassien Bernard and Albert Galleron. The building has a French Neo-classical style, with a facade with Corintian columns, and 4 statues representing Agriculture, Industry, Justice and Commerce.
Favorite thing: One of the churches located around Union Square (Piata Unirii) that survived Ceausescu's plan for creating the Civic Center is Princess Balasa Church (Biserica Domnita Balasa). Instead, this church had a bit of bad luck in terms of natural elements. The first church on this site was a wooden one built in 1774 but it burned down and was replaced by a stone structure in 1751. The second church was damaged during an earthquake and had to be replaced by a third structure build between 1838-1842. At its turn, this building was damaged by floods and replaced by a fourth church between 1881-1885. This is the ocre striped church that we see today. The current church had to be repaired again after each of the two major 20C earthquakes (1940 and 1977). This is one of the most popular places for weddings in Bucharest and if you come here on Saturdays and Sundays, you are almost certain to see a wedding taking place. The church is located off Piata Unirii and Splaiul Independentei behind the blocks of apartments bordering Unirii Square, and faces the side of the Justice Palace. Princess Balasa Church is named after Wallachia's ruler Brancoveanu's sixth daughter. Her statue stands in the small garden that surrounds the church.
The Intercontinental hotel, at the University square of Buchareest is without a doubt one of the cities most significant symbols.
Tourists willl find that hotel as a starting and finishing point at thier visits and the locals see it has a central point of thier daily life.
When you walk around the old Center of Bucharest, there are 2 buildings that you probably won't miss: The first is the historical CEC Palace and the second is the modern Financail Plaza that appears to be the highest at the old town Center.
Not like in some other cases, this 2 buildings fit together like spaghetti and tomato sauce... ;)
Althogh that the Financial Plaza is one of the most modern office buildings in Bucharest it didnt spoiled at all that beautiful corner of the old town... hopefully there will be more projects like that in the future... :)
Favorite thing: Bucharest is full of big, spacious squares and beautiful fountains! In the summer they whisper and glitter with joy! Can you feel it? :)