Caldarusani Monastery lies 30 km. from Bucharest to the north-east, on the shore of the lake with the same name. It was built in 1637-1638 (in 100 days sharp) by Matei Basarab on the spot of a former convent. The cellar to the right hosts nowadays the Thesaurus, where religious items are kept. A museum with icons painted by Nicolae Grigorescu exists there.
Snagov Monastery lies also 30 km. north of Bucharest. The monastery was established in the 14th century and, among the rulers that contributed to its building and development were Mircea the Old, Vladislav the 2nd and Vlad the Impaler. In 1517-1521 Neagoe Basarab replaces the old dwellings. Of them, only the big church survived, as the other two churches (one from 1431 and one from 1588) have disappeared. The pro naos hosts several graves; the legend says that under a nameless tombstone there is the grave of Vlad the Impaler, but archaeological research could not confirm this. The interior frescoes are original, from 1563.
Samurcasesti Monastery is located in Ciorogarla Village, east of Bucharest. The monastery was founded in 1808. It was seriously damaged by the earthquake in 1940 and had to ber demolished and rebuilt. It is set in Brancoveanu style, with three altars. The silver plated icons on the altar are especially attractive, as well as the design created by red bricks on the church walls and columns.
Comana Monastery is located 30 km. south of Bucharest. The fortified monastery was built by Vlad the Impaler of wood (1461) on an island in the middle of a swampy area very difficult to cross and this has provided it with a natural defensive feature against the Turkish invasions. It was rebuilt in 1588, then ruined afterwards and rebuilt again in 1699-1703. In 1728 it was overtaken by Greek monks, then it was damaged, just to be restored in 1854, closed in 1863 and reestablished in 1991. The church is surrounded by a square layer of cells on two levels, with a monumental portico and robust brick columns.
While taking a stroll through the Mogosoaia garden I came upon two statues lying behind the old kitchen wall. One was the statue of Lenin and the other that of Petru Groza, the communist prime minister of the 1945 government. The statues were brought here after the 1989 revolution. The statue of Lenin used to sit in front of the Press House in Piata Presei Libere (Free Press Square).
Cernica Monastery lies 13 km. off Bucharest on the road leading to Constanta, then on a deviation towards Fundeni – Oltenita. It was founded in 1608, being rebuilt many times, with the actual building of the church dating from 1831-1842. In the graveyard that lies further down from the monastery, there is a small church (St. Lazar) and some interesting tomb stones.
Pasarea Monastery lies 20 km. east of Bucharest, in Cozieni Village. The monastery was raised in 1813 and rebuilt in the actual shape in 1847. In one of the nuns’ cells to the right there is a small museum with icons and fine embroideries. The church is surrounded by an entire village of small and picturesque cottages belonging to the nuns. Down the slope towards the lake, to the south, there is a narrow bridge that leads to a small but interesting “troita”.
St. Nicholas – Balamuci Monastery lies near Sitaru Village, 40 km. north-east of the city on the secondary road via Stefanestii de Jos. Around year 1600 there was built a small wooden church made of oak. Then the actual church was built under the rule of Michael the Brave in 1627. The frescoes were done in 1752 and they are appreciated by researchwers in comparison with the frescoes of the monasteries in Northern Moldavia, especially Voronet. As a special remark, the monastery follows strictly the life on Mount Athos, as monks never eat meat, the Liturgy is held on a daily basis and there are masses every night from midnight to 3 AM.
Mogosoaia Palace is located in the village with the same name about 14 km northwest of Bucharest's center. The palace is one of the most beautiful 18C buildings in Romania, a fine example of the Brancovenesc style. It was built by the Wallachian prince Constatin Brancoveanu between 1698 and 1702 as a summer residence for his family and as a present for his son Stefan. The palace is located in a beautiful setting, surrounded by a park and sitting by the shore of the Mogosoaia lake which mirrors its profile. When Brancoveanu and all his sons found their death in Istanbul in 1714 the palace turned into an inn and was afterwards damaged during the Russian-Turkish war of 1769-1774. Towards the end of the 19C the palace passed to the Bibescu family, who were distantly related to the Brancoveanus. Under the care of Marthe Bibescu, a cultured person devoted to Romania and its people, the palace was restored by two architects, the Venetian Domenico Rupolo and the Romanian G.M. Cantacuzino. In 1956 the palace was handed over to the state and turned into a museum and later it was closed when Ceausescu took the furniture for his own use. During the 1977 earthquake the building is damaged but repairs in 1990s made the palace fit to visit again. The palace as it looks today, has a beautiful Venetian-style loggia on the facade facing the lake, while overlooking the main courtyard is a balcony with carvings showing the characteristic phytomorphic motifs of Brancoveanu style. Mogosoaia museum exhibits embroideries, icons, wooden sculptures and oil paintings, most from private donations. On the left as you enter the complex sits the little church dedicated to St. George of the Meadow. It was built in 1688 and decorated by a team of Greek painters. You can still see the original paintings inside the church including a painting showing Constantin Brancoveanu with his wife, Maris, his four sons and seven daughters, all wearing royal dress. We got to Mogosoaia by taking the Maxi Taxi (small van) #508 from Bucharest North Station.
Barbu Stirbei, voyevode of Wallachia (1849-1853, 1854-1856), inherited a piece of land in Buftea. Alexandru Stirbei, his son, inherited the land in Buftea and built a palace there in 1864. The palace was set in Gothic style and the interiors contain a rich decoration, with vast carved wood sections, everything being set around the interior oak carved staircase and bearing the family blazon. The painted or sculpted wooden ceilings, the Neo-Gothic blazons above the doors, as well as the chimneys make the image complete about the interiors. As a consequence of his wife’s death, Alexandru Stirbei built a monumental chapel in the park between 1885 and 1890. In 1895 however Alexandru died and his oldest son, Barbu Stirbei, inherited the domain in Buftea. A passionate agriculturist, he founded a huge farm near the palace and started to buy plots of land in the neighborhood, becoming one of the richest men in the country. During WW1 the palace sheltered Queen Maria and then it was bombed by German planes. Both Stirbei family and Queen Maria retreated in Iasi, and the palace was robbed by the German army, which also took it over, with the German Military Commandment settling in Buftea in January 1917. On March 5, 1918, the peace agreement with Austro – Hungary and Germany was signed in the palace. Time passed by, the German troops were defeated, the surrender peace in Buftea was cancelled and Stirbei family could return to their palace, restoring it. The palace and all other belongings in Buftea were confiscated by the communist government after 1946. The palace was restored in 1959, meant as a diplomatic residence and it hosted - for instance - Nikita Hrushciov, the leader of the U.S.S.R., when he attended the 3rd congress of the Romanian Workers’ Party in 1960. Once again restored after the earthquake in 1977, the palace was turned, after 1990, into a hotel and restaurant. In 2006 the palace was given back (by the government) to the family that had built it, and it was closed to public, as the family wanted to sell it.
Mogosoaia Palace, located 10km northwest of Bucharest, is a very easy daytrip and a lovely place to spend a few hours away from the chaos, noise and traffic of central Bucharest.
The Palace was designed by Constantin Brancoveanu, a Wallachian prince, in 1698-1702 as a summer residence and inheritance for his son Stefan. After Stefan was killed, it served as an inn and a warehouse before being turned over to the Bibescu family, relations of the Branconveanu's. It was handed over to the State in 1956 and served as a museum until the 1970s when Ceausescu closed it and appropriated all the furniture.
Be sure to take a peek in the St. George's Chapel, have a look behind the Palace at the gardens and lake, have a walk in the woods, and find the mammoth statue of Lenin, removed from the Piata Presei after the 1989 revolution, and a slightly smaller statue of prime minister Petru Groza behind the old kitchen wall.
Less important is a visit to the interior of the Palace, it's rather spartanly decorated, with little furniture or wall decoration thanks to Ceausescu. Still, it's only 40,000 lei (about $2US) to visit so I figured we're here, might as well. Just don't bother with the camera fee, very little to photograph here.
To get there we hopped on a maxitaxi heading to Buftea from the starting point near Bucuresti Nord train station, 20,000 lei each to ride (less than $1US). Since there are not marked stops, be sure and ask a local where to get off or if possible sit near the driver. There is a brown sign on the side of the road marking where to turn. From there you walk about 1/4 mile to the Palace grounds. On the way back, we stood by the side of the road (no sign marking the stop) and within 10-15 minutes a maxitaxi was whisking back to central Bucharest. I think it took about 20 minutes to get there.
The statue marks the spot from where all the distances to other Romanian cities are measured. The marker says it's in memory of December 21, 1989, the day the Revolution started that ultimately ended in Ceausescu's death. It also lists April 22-June 13, 1990
In Your Pocket lists the kilometre 0 marker as being on Boulevard Bratianu in front of Sf. Gheorghe church with a different description, this one is in front of the Teatrul National so I'm wondering if there are two Kilometre 0 markers
The beautiful passage is connecting Calea Victoriei to the pleasent old town of Bucharest. Entering the passage makes a very strange feeling, suddenly the view becomes shiny green (because of the roof) and full with old boutiques and small cafes.
There are some similiar passages around the old town of Bucharst
when you walk on Unirii bulevard to take a picture to the Ceausescu's megalomaniac house of the people, at the end of the bulevard turn left, walk behind the blocks of flats, and within 100m you'll reach a pictoresque monastery called Antim. Usually, there'll be some beggars in front of it, but don't bother, just enter the courtyard and you'll fell like a trip in time.
Going there will give you an idea about how the area used to be before Ceausescu demolished everything to build its' palace and the "civic centre" surrounding it. Before demolitions, the area was occupied by narrow streets, private villas and hotels, churches, monasteries...... Now all that's left of that good_old_times_flavour is hidden behind concrete blocks of flats from communist era, while some houses are in ruins, after their owners have been expropriated and left the country in the early to mid 80's. After the owners abandoned their homes, gipsies moved in, and you'll find some still living there.....
Radu Voda Monastery – 1568
Within a 100m from Unirii square, hidden behind the concrete blocks which testify for the communist times, lies another orthodox monastery: Radu Voda, built in 1568. The monastery is isolated from its surroundings by a brick wall and a thick layer of trees. Entrance is opposite the oldest church in Bucharest (Bucur the Shepherd).
The church was built by the great grandson of Vlad Tepes (a.k.a. Dracula, as per Bram Stoker). The site also hosts a theology school. Don’t miss the paintings inside the church, the mosaique from the candles lighting site, the surrounding park, the tower and the ancient graves behind the tower.
How to get there: Radu Voda street south of Unirii square
Biserica Bucur Ciobanul (the Church of Bucur the Shepherd)
The name of BUCUResti comes from a shepherd named Bucur, who decided to settle down in these places. Tradition in medieval times required a church to be built in each settlement, so among the first things he built around 1300 was a small wooden church, on this very place. In 1416, the wooden church made room for a brick one, which you can see today.
The oldest church in Bucharest is situated near Unirii square – just follow the river (Dambovita) towards the construction site of the national library (opposite to Ceausescu’s Palace) and within 300m you’ll see a tall brick wall on you right. The church in on the top of the small courtyard surrounded by the brick wall.
While there, don’t miss the monastery of Radu Voda, opposite the road
Like many other cities across the world before them, Bucharest is counting on a herd of fiberglass cows to bring in a herd of camera toting tourists and to brighten up the city with the whimsically designed bovines.
Bucharest is one of several cities hosting Cow Parades this summer. The first public displays of cows as art was in Switzerland in 1998, in 1999 my hometown of Chicago adopted the idea and was successful in getting lots of people to visit to see them. Since then many other cities have used this idea to sponsor public art and raise funds for charity when the cows are auctioned off at the end.
We only came across two while in Bucharest, since it was the beginning of the exhibition there was no map of the locations to be found but In Your Pocket promised to have one in their June/July issue.
The Cow Parade runs through September 12 after which the cows will be auctioned off for charity.
On an island in the middle of Snagov Lake stands Snagov Monastery, the reputed burial place of Vlad Tepes, also known as Vlad Dracula. Boatmen ferry you across for a negotiated price. Just 40 km (25 mi) north of Bucharest, the village of Snagov is a popular retreat for city dwellers.
I usually try to see the main RC church in countries in which Catholics are a minority. And so I did in Bucharest :-)
The rosetta in the front made me think of old churches in France... Apparently organ music recitals are played there every Sunday at 7:00 p.m.
The Roman-Catholic Cathedral is in 19 G-ral Berthelot St., north-west of Piata Revolutiei.
Probably too late now, but the best mittiei are in Piata Matache, about 5 mins walk from Gara de Nord - Leave the station by the main entrance - walk along the left side of the Park in front of the Ministry of Transport - You'll find a short street on your left between two apartment blocks. walk along the street until you hit the school wall, turn right and then left and then right to enter the market. There is a small outside cafe with yellow Bergenbier signs and umbrellas outside. You will find good mittiei, vin fiert or draft beer as you wish. Also sausages, chicken, macarel and whitebait. Even during the recent heavy snow, they were serving good food. All food is cooked on a charcoal barbeque.