Bucharest is still an unknown tourist destination, as Romania has a rather bad reputation in the West. The reason why I went there in autumn of 2016, has to do with my colleagues. The husband of my friend is the manager of the hotel Radisson Blu Bucharest and they invited me to visit them. They had told me many stories about Bucharest and I was curious to see it with my own eyes.
And I was not disappointed. There are plenty of things to do an see and I spent a wonderful weekend with loads of sightseeing. The city is modern and clean and it has plenty of green recreational spots. The French influence in the architecture of some buildings is unmistakable and gave the city the nickname “Paris of the East”. You can either explore a large part of the city on foot or use the hop-on / hop-off bus.
Five attractions you shouldn’t miss on your weekend trip to Bucharest
1. The Palace of the Parliament
Nicolae Ceausescu, the countrie’s head of state from 1967 to 1989, was not involved in the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1968. This strengthened the Romanians’ self-esteem and earned Ceausecus great honor. Unfortunately he took advantage of his popularity and exploited the Romanians shamelessly as he wasted his money and the resources of the country. This gigantic palace with its 3000 rooms is one of the three largest buildings in the world. He sacrificed valuable land treasures for his megalomania. For example, the entire Romanian marble production of ten years was used in the palace. The entire complex also included new avenues and squares. In order to make room for it, numerous houses, including historical churches and synagogues, were demolished.
Today, the palace serves as the seat of parliament. There is also an international conference center, a concert hall, and the National Museum of Modern Art is located at the back of the building. There are regular guided tours through the palace. Registration is essential. The tours are professional and leave you with a good impression of the man behind this gigantic palace.
2. The open-air museum Muzeul Satului
In this vast museum you can see the rural life of Romania as it has taken place for centuries: various types of houses, churches, draw wells, wind and water mills, tools, interior furnishings, craftsmanship, etc. can be seen there. Most of the houses date back to the 19th century or older. You can easily get lost there for half a day and travel back in time. If you want to take a rest or eat something you can relax in the restaurant.
3. The old town
The old town of Bucharest is extremely charming and well maintained, with many restaurants, cafes and shops. A must see is the beer hall Caru’cu Bere with its unusual style. The building which was constructed in 1879, stretches over two floors. The rooms are lined with wood carvings and frescoes. The guests sit between gilded pillars with a view of the glowing glass windows. This magnificent building is definitely worth a visit. Unfortunately the traditional food served there did not meet my expectations. It was not fresh and very greasy. If you are interested in seeing this unusual beer hall I would recommend making a reservation. This place is on top of every tourists’ list and can get very crowded.
4. The Atheneum
This is another piece of architecture worth seeing in Bukarest. It was built in the late 19th century by the French architect Albert Galleron and it is a fusion of different architectural styles. On the inside it has a concert hall with a seating capacity of more than 800 seats. I especially liked the richly decorated columns, domes and colorful marble floors. The whole interplay of different materials, colors, shapes and decorations is beautiful. If you have time, you should listen to a concert in this beautiful hall. The acoustics must be excellent.
5. The Hotel Radisson Blu Bucharest
Obviously I stayed at the Radisson Blu Hotel as my friends work and live there. To make it short: I was fully satisfied with this accommodation. The hotel is centrally located, it has several excellent restaurants, a swimming pool, a lounge bar, a wellness and relaxation area and also different apartments. And of course it has Royal and Presidential Suites … I could never afford to stay in one of them but my friends gave me a short tour through the hotel and showed me around the suits where celebrities such as Johnny Depp or Madonna have stayed when they visited Bukarest.
Text and pictures by my mom, Antoinette
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