Bucharest appears for the first time in one paper issued by Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler), in the autumn of the year 1459. Since then, Bucharest is now enlarged to 228 sq.km and over 2.300.000 people lives here.
During the years, and especially in the second half of the 19th century and in the first half of the 20th century, buildings, streets and monuments gave Bucharest the nickname of The Little Paris. Here are some essential moments in the history of the city:
1740 - first private owned pharmacy
1779 - first pumps with with drinking water
1789 - first administrative distribution of the city: 5 divisions, 80 neighbourhoods and 6006 households
1814 - public lighting with candles
1816 - swiching to public lighting with knapsack oil
1820 - first hotel - Hotel Brenner - on Smardan St
1826 - first library - owned by the french Thierin de Meronville
1829 - first newspaper - Romanian Courier of Ion Heliade Radulescu and Constantin Moroiu
1869 - first railway - Bucharest-Giurgiu, first trainstation - Filaret and first train, made-up from three cars and the engine named Mihai Bravu
1872 - first tramway
1880 - The National Bank of Romania was established
1900 - first automobile in Bucharest
1908 - the Bucharest Observatory was built
Nobody likes rainy days, when clouds block the sun from lighting the place you want to visit. These days (28 december 2004), instead of snow we have rain. This is pretty odd for the average climate in the area.
Excuse the picture quality. This is taken out of my office window with my mobile :)
Bucharest’s old town near Unrii square is currently partly under reconstruction. A fair few streets are open and look like archeological digs. You notice that this is a tourist hot spot as there are explanation signs of the sights.
I'm sure that it will be lovely once everything is in order again.
Some people who arrive to Bucharest hear a lot of things about of the neighborhood that called "Obor". Most of the things they hear are bad...
So yes, its true that its a area that was built in the communist era and its dirty, noisy and full of blocks... but i dont belive that it is so dangerous to hang out outside by night...
You can see this place in an all other view, the area is always full of people, at least at day hours, and it dosnt look like a boring place, there is a huge park in the area and the most importent thing is that the stadium of the great club Dinamo Bucharest is here...
I had the chance to be in Obor a few hours... i was in an old communist block... not so bed from inside, really... from there we went out to the lively streets of the area and i saw a park, a fountain, a lot of traffic and one car almost squash... but you know, thats how it is going in the big cities...
Former servants and agriculture workers for the Romanian landowners, gypsies have been recognised civil rights in the 1920’s, to be soon afterwards persecuted by the Nazis in the 1940’s and to have their savings (materialised in small golden coins) confiscated by the communists in the 1950’s and 60’s.
Land expropriation meant gypsies had much less working opportunities in the countryside, so they flew to the cities. Nowadays, gypsies account for a fairly large proportion of Bucharest inhabitants. They usually live in the ill-famed suburbs in southern part of the city (Rahova, Ferentari) and North to Gara de Nord in Basarab – Crangasi neighbourhoods. The can also be found living in central areas, especially in the historic centre, where they moved once owners were forced to leave their homes in the 1950’s.
Fondest memory: Despite of prejudices, they are usually friendly and open. However, be aware that buying something on the streets when (insistently) offered a product or service usually leads to either being robbed or tricked.
As soon as I get to Bucharest I try to find out what is going on around the city. For that I try to get hold of a copy of either "Sapte Seri" (Seven Nights) magazine or "B-24-Fun" magazine. These weekly magazines are offered freely and you can pick one up in cafes, bookshops, restaurants and hotels all over downtown. They will tell you all you need to know about the movies that are currenly running, theatres, restaurants, pubs, clubs, art events, concerts and many others. They're rival publications but in general they have the same information so either one will do. B-24-Fun has some cute articles, but they are in Romanian. Some of the information is in Romanian, some in English. I do think there's value in picking one up even if you don't speak Romanian. Sapte Seri also has a website at www.sapteseri.ro (which has an English version). Another good source of information (but harder to find) is the monthly Bucharest in Your Pocket available on the web here:
Despite municipality’s efforts in the last few years, one can still find no-mans’ dogs in the streets, especially off-beaten streets and in the suburbs.
Explanations for their existence and number is varied – from lack of preoccupation from the part of the authorities in the lat ‘90s to the demolitions in the mid ‘80s which lead to many dog owners leaving their dogs on the streets when forced moving from houses (with courtyard) to small apartments in blocks of flats. The reality is as follows: while there still are no-man’s dogs on the streets, virtually every private courtyard has its own dog, barking from behind the fence when someone crosses by.
My advice on dogs in Bucharest is as follows:
- although a sudden load bark from behind a fence may be scary, “courtyard” dogs cannot jump over the fences. However, don’t provoke them,
- street dogs are usually indifferent to your crossing by within a few meters. Should they begin to bark, I use to stop walking immediately, look at them and talk to them by whispering – in this way, they get confused, as only people they are friendly with use to whisper to them.
You’ll notice an abundance of advertisements all over the city buildings, as if installing huge posters became a local hobby. If you pay more attention, you’ll notice that brand new, glass-covered office buildings do not bear any advertisement, while some historical buildings are proudly showing laptops or underwear on their hundreds old facades.
Although I cannot recognise any merit in this, it seems advertisement helps paying the bill for the buildings inhabitants, while the authorities turn a blind eye thanking for the extra money they get on the expense of the city’s past.
Favorite thing: The river crossing Bucharest is quite small, as per the standards of other European capitals. However, Dambovita was changed its path and debit during the construction works in ‘80s, so that now the river passes below the park & fountains in Unirii square, between 2 subway lines and above an underground road tunnel.
Endless quarter of concrete blocks of flats, dozens of blocks built after the same plans all over the country.
Fondest memory: A reflection of the communist times, when once-farmers living in the countryside have been stimulated to move to large cities to help the “communist industrial development” of the country. From the point of view of the cities development, this meant that industrial parks were erected despite of pollution they caused, urban population increased rapidly to serve as workforce and replace the “old social order” and bourgeoisie-predominant population.
This is how entire dormitory quarters have appeared in the ‘60s and ‘70s, characterised by the 50sqm apartments built in matches-box like blocks. However, as time passed by, and following the earthquakes in 1977 and 1984, the construction standards and the rooms’ surface allowed to the working class living in these blocks have increased significantly (70sqm standard 2 rooms flat), while on the other hand, the dimensions of the blocks’ windows have continuously decreased, to make flats warmer during savings-driven heating shortages in winter time.
Favorite thing: In the last 15 years University Square has proved to be a popular railing point at the time of national crisis as well as celebration: people gathered here during the 1989 revolution and the sad events of June 1990 and they continue to gather here every time the national team wins a soccer game (which unfortunatelly doesn't happen very often these days). If you see a lot of people loitering around the underground passage entrance in front of the National Theater is because it's probably the most popular meeting place in Bucharest. It's a place buzzing with crowds and traffic, a true center of activity. The square is surrounded by interesting architecture starting with the University of Bucharest building on the square's northwestern corner. Facing the university there are four statues of illustrious pedagogues and statesmen. On the other northern corner, adjacent to the Intercontinental hotel, is the National Theater of Bucharest. Opposite it lies the beautiful building of the School of Architecture, behind a little square with a small fountain where people stop and sit when the weather is nice. On the southwestern corner of the square, the Bucharest History Museum traces the city history from the beginning to modern days and across from it lies the neo-Classical building of the Coltea Hospital and its lovely church. In the middle of the square, in a little island, there are ten stone crosses that pay homage to those killed during the 1989 revolution. Below the square there is an underground passage with shops and eateries which allows pedestrians to cross to from one side of the square to another and also leads to the subway station.
Bucharest's Centrul Istoric, or Historic Centre is the area around Strada Lipscani. It is the oldest part of the city and developed around the Princely Court from 1459 onwards. It is one of the most interesting parts of Bucharest to wander around, especially on a summer's evening, when the bohemian bars lining its cobbled streets come to life.
Although the streets date back to the fifteenth century, most of the buildings were rebuilt after the great fire of 1847. The most interesting streets today are Lipscani, Gabroveni, Smârdan and Stavropoleos.
I was amazed when I walked under the rain in the old city of Bucharest, mid March 2011; workings everywhere. . .
The neo-classical and baroque buildings bordering the streets in Lipscani area look quite nice, and certainly they will be nice to look at when walking in the future pedestrian zone; in some places, the houses in different styles look a bit like an architectural mess, but the mess is a bit in the works, you do not know where it begins and ends (picture 2), and when you think it is finished, the works machines have to come back, but great care is taken of the new pavements (picture 3). It is a bit difficult to go around and if you want to reach this wonderful restaurant you red about in a guide or a friend told you about, you have to take unusual paths (picture 4). The perspectives of the streets and the views of the big buildings are somehow spoilt(picture 5), but we can hope that in a few months the historical centre of Bucharest will look like a jewel in a new jewel case. . . . hopefully.
The National Day of Romania is on December 1st, this is after the revolution in 1989. Before that it was August 23rd. On December 1st 1918 the three parts - Moldova, Transilvania si Tara Romaneasca - formed the united Romania. The signing of the unity was made in Alba Iulia.
Fondest memory: December 1st is national holiday so it's a non-working day. Many people go to the Arch of Triumph where the military parade is going under it, on the long 2km boulevard from Casa Presei to Piata Victoriei.
Check out the picture set, the blond smiling woman is Elena Udrea, a young (she's my age) politian in close relation with the current president of Romania. Next year (2008) we will have elections so it's an opportunity to increase popularity by taking pictures with people :)
Beautiful ornaments on the outside of the Starvropoleos Church, and check the little window!
It seemed very different from other Orthodox churches that I've seen in other countries. I think I will remember Bucharest first of all for this church - and second, for the Old Princely Court :-)
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