Romania: Not Only about Count Dracula VI
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The name Bucharest comes from Bucura a shepard and the name itself means "merry" in Romanian. Unfortunately, we do not know anythung about this shepard nir wgy he city was nmed particularly after him. The city is surrounded by the Carpathian mountains and by the Danube. Let's take eveything in an orderly fashion - first comes a brief history.
Bucharest is a young city, relatively. The first written mention originates in a document issued by Prince Vlad Tepes in 1459. However, the city was mentioned, although it was named differently, in 1368. Later, it was mentioned as a winter home of the Valachia rulers who made Bucharest their residence in 1659. Its location made it an important place on many important trade routes. This sparked boom in Bucharest. It also became spiritual center of the Orthodox christians. In 1862, Bucharest became the capital of independent Romania. This era is known as the golden age. It flourished and mostly thanks to the fact that French architects were invited here to deisgn the new look of the city. No wonder then that it was called back then the Paris of the east. Soon, however, great catastrophes emerged - world wars, nature disasters (for instance, the earthquake of 1977), or the Socialist regime which left panel houses districts, many administrative buildings, and the notorious Palace of the Parliament.
Let's history be. We shall do some sightseeing now. The foremost tourist atractions in the city are Stavropoelos, a 18th century Orthodox church, Plumbuita monasty (something like a cloister, a place where monks live). The latter hold the very first printed book in the city and also is home to wonderful architecture. Next there is the Triumphal arch. It symbolizes the fight and the vicory of Romanian army in the Great War. You might find it similar to the one in Paris. And you are right for the arc in Paris served as ispiration. Another amazing sight is Palatul Regal (the royal palace) and Palatul Parlamentului (the Palace of the Parliament). The latter was residence of the then Romanian dictator - Ceausescu. It is a notorious example of Communist megalomania.
This palace is the biggest attraction in the Romanian capital. Large share of historical center was demolished in order to create space for this monstrosity. There are 12 floors above the ground and 8 underground. There are 1 100 rooms covering an area of 330 000 m2. This makes it one of the largest buildings in the world. Inside, there is a nuclear shelter, or escape corridors. 700 tons of bronze, 3 million tons of marble, 1 million m3 of, 250 thousand m2 of carpets, and many other material and appliances. There is a park around the palace covering 300 000 m2. In the present, government resides in the building. What is interesting is that the building is not finished or that some rooms have never been used, and there is a 2-ton curtain. You can see the palace from the outside or tae an express 45-mnutes guided tour.
Should you intend to roam in downtown only, your feet will be efficient means of transport. However, should you be more curious and explore the wider area of Bucharest the public transportation might come in handy. Apart from buses and so on, there is also rapid train system (subway) or the so called light railway.
You will surely get hungry while travelling. Therefore, it might come in handy to know couple of good restaurants. There are some excellent ones in Bucharest and you will get some very tasty food. And we think that in general you can eat there cheaply and healthily. If you get not tired by sightseeing, visit a DISCO. Turkish music plays there mostly. Make sure to pay a visit to some local theaters, dance clubs, or concerts. People who like shopping can go to shopping malls or walk down historical boulevards. Calea Victoriei is the greatest of them. It kind of looks like Champs-Élysées.
Bucharest is a city of many contrasts which makes it unique. On one hand, you can see poverty. On the other, you see wealth at the same time. New meets old, modern backward. Bucharest is a city of many faces. Everyone of them is worth seeing, though. Next week, we set off one more time to see Romania. What shall we see is a surprise.
Text: Oskár Mažgút
Photos: Mária Ondrejková
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