Bucharest Architecture Jewels (Self Guided), Bucharest

Bucharest's architecture is highly eclectic due to the many influences that the city has experienced throughout its history. It represents a mixture of medieval, neoclassical and art nouveau objects, as well as 'neo-Romanian' buildings dating back to the early 20th century and a remarkable collection of modern sights from the 1920s and 1930s. The mostly-utilitarian Communist-era architecture dominates the majority of the southern boroughs. Take this tour to discover the most prominent architectural sights in Bucharest.
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Bucharest Architecture Jewels Map

Guide Name: Bucharest Architecture Jewels
Guide Location: Romania » Bucharest (See other walking tours in Bucharest)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 Km or 1.9 Miles
Author: DanaU
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Palace of the Parliament
  • National Museum of Romanian History
  • Stavropoleos Convent
  • CEC Palace
  • The National Military Circle
  • University of Bucharest
  • Bucharest National Theatre
  • Italian Church
  • Romanian Athenaeum
  • National Museum of Art of Romania
Palace of the Parliament

1) Palace of the Parliament (must see)

The Palace of the Parliament in Bucharest is a multi-purpose building which houses both chambers of the Romanian Parliament. According to the World Records Academy, the Palace is the world's largest civilian building, most expensive administrative building, and heaviest construction. The Palace was designed and nearly completed under the Ceauşescu regime as the seat of political and administrative power. Nicolae Ceauşescu named it the House of the Republic, although many Romanians call it the People's House.

The structure combines elements and motifs from multiple sources, in an eclectic neoclassical architectural style. The building is constructed almost entirely of the materials of Romanian origin. Reportedly, these included one million cubic meters of marble from Transylvania, mostly from Ruşchiţa; 3,500 tonnes of crystal used for making 480 chandeliers, 1,409 ceiling lights and mirrors; 700,000 tonnes of steel and bronze for monumental doors and windows, chandeliers and capitals; 900,000 m2 of wood, over 95% of which is domestic, for parquet and wainscoting, including walnut, oak, sweet cherry, elm, sycamore maple; 200,000 m2 of woolen carpets of various sizes, the largest of which were woven on-site by machines brought into the building; as well as velvet and brocade curtains adorned with embroideries and passementeries in silver and gold.

Built on the site of a hill variously known as Spirii Hill, Uranus Hill, or Arsenal Hill, which was largely razed for this mega project in 1980, the building anchors the west end of Bulevardul Unirii (Unification Boulevard) and Centrul Civic (Civic Center). Constructing the Palace and Centrul Civic required demolishing much of Bucharest's historic district, including 19 Orthodox Christian churches, six Jewish synagogues, three Protestant churches (plus eight churches had to be relocated), and 30,000 residences. The construction began in 1983; the cornerstone was laid on 25 June 1984. While the building was intended to house all four major state institutions (in a similar manner to the UK Houses of Parliament), Ceausescu opted to make the palace his personal residence and have the government operate in it (as if confining the Moscow Kremlin to one building). By the time Nicolae Ceauşescu was overthrown and executed in 1989, the building had been almost complete. Some of the initially planned furnishings were never installed, and the last three basement levels and a large clock tower (meant to display the official Romanian time) were never finished.
Sight description based on wikipedia
National Museum of Romanian History

2) National Museum of Romanian History

The National Museum of Romanian History is a museum on Calea Victoriei in Bucharest, Romania, which contains Romanian historic artefacts from prehistoric times up to modern times. It is located inside the former Postal Services Palace, which also houses a philatelic museum. As of 2007, the museum has been under reconstruction; a late medieval archaeological site was discovered under the building.

The structure was built in 1970 aiming at illustrating the cultural evolution during all historical epochs of Romania. It is the most important museum of history and archaeology in Romania, due to both size and heritage. The museum also plays an important role in contemporary Romanian archaeology and is a leader in the field of preventive archaeology.

The permanent displays include a plaster cast of the entirety of Trajan's Column, the Romanian Crown Jewels, and the Pietroasele treasure.

Operation hours: Wednesday - Sunday 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Stavropoleos Convent

3) Stavropoleos Convent (must see)

Stavropoleos Convent, also known - during the last century when the convent was dissolved - as Stavropoleos Church, is an Eastern Orthodox nunnery in central Bucharest, Romania. Its church is built in Brâncovenesc style. The patrons of the church are St. Archangels Michael and Gabriel. The name Stavropoleos is a Romanian rendition of a Greek word, Stauropolis, meaning "The city of the Cross". Among other things the convent is particularly famous for is Byzantine music; it has a choir and the largest collection of Byzantine music books in Romania.

The church was built in 1724, during the reign of Nicolae Mavrocordat (Prince of Wallachia, 1719-1730), by archimandrite Ioanichie Stratonikeas. Within the precinct of his inn, Ioanichie built the church and a convent which was economically sustained with incomes from the inn. In 1726 abbot Ioanichie was elected metropolitan of Stavropole and exarch [the deputy of a patriarch] of Caria. Since then the convent he built has been known as Stavropoleos, after the name of its old seat. On February 7, 1742 Ioanichie, aged 61, died and was buried in his church.

The inn and the monastery's annexes were demolished at the end of the 19th century. Over time the church suffered from earthquakes, which caused the dome to fall. The dome's paintings were restored at the beginning of the 20th century. All that remains from the original nunnery now is the church, alongside the building, dating back to the early 20th century, which shelters a library, a conference room and a collection of old (early 18th century) icons and ecclesiastical objects, as well as parts of the wall paintings recovered from churches demolished during the communist regime. This new building was constructed to a plan by architect Ion Mincu.

The convent's library contains over 8,000 books on theology, Byzantine music, arts and history. There are patristic, biblical, dogmatic, liturgic, historical, homiletic, catechetic writings, as well as classic languages dictionaries and textbooks, studies on Byzantine art and Orthodox iconography, plus those on the Romanian history and civilization of the 18th century. Some of the books have been donated from the personal library of art historian Vasile Drăguţ, former rector of the Bucharest University of Arts.
Sight description based on wikipedia
CEC Palace

4) CEC Palace (must see)

The CEC Palace in Bucharest, built in 1900 and situated on Calea Victoriei opposite the National Museum of Romanian History, is the headquarters of the national savings bank C.E.C., nowadays called the CEC Bank.

Before the construction of the palace, the location was occupied by the ruins of a monastery (Saint John the Great) and an adjoining inn. The 16th-century church was renovated by Constantin Brâncoveanu during 1702-1703, but later fell into disrepair and was demolished in 1875. The palace was built as a new headquarters for Romania's oldest bank, the public savings institution Casa de Depuneri, Consemnaţiuni şi Economie, later known as C.E.C. The land was bought and the building was constructed with the institution's own funds. Work started on June 8, 1897 and was completed in 1900. The project was designed by architect Paul Guttereau, a graduate of the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Artsin Paris; the construction was supervised by Romanian architect Ion Socolescu.

After 106 years of service, the building was deemed no longer fit for modern banking and was therefore sold for €17.787 million to the municipality of Bucharest to be used as a museum. Although no longer open to CEC clients, the bank continues to rent the building as its headquarters until a suitable replacement is found or built.

Eclectic in style, the palace is topped by a glass and metal dome. The entrance features an arch supported by two pairs of columns in composite style. The four corners are decorated with gables and coats of arms and ending in Renaissance domes.
Sight description based on wikipedia
The National Military Circle

5) The National Military Circle

The building of the National Military Circle was designed by Romanian architects D. Maimarolu, V. Stefanescu and E. Doneaud. It was built in 1912 in French neoclassical style and was used to host social, cultural and educational needs of the Romanian army. Now, it is the place were important events, such as art exhibitions and book launching, take place.

The National Military Circle contains numerous reception halls and meeting rooms, a theater, a bookshop, and art galleries. The Marble Hall is known to be one of the most successful achievements of the Romanian architecture. Its decorative elements are of ancient style that bring you back to the bygone era. The stunning collection of swords, stilettos, shields, spears, helmets, and arrows creates a true military environment. Another impressive hall is the Byzantine Hall which takes its name from the Byzantine style it bears with specific elements of the Romanian traditional art. Its dominant component is the row of arches that support the ceiling. After the renovation of the hall, some mural paintings - representing images of the leaders of independent Romania - have been added.

Some other outstanding halls of the National Military Circle are the Maura Hall, the Gothic Hall, and the Norwegian Hall.
University of Bucharest

6) University of Bucharest

The University of Bucharest in Romania was founded in 1864 by a decree of Prince Alexandru Ioan Cuza set to convert the former Saint Sava Academy into the current University of Bucharest. In the 2012 QS World University Rankings it was listed among the Top 200 universities of the world (151-200 band).

In 1694, Constantin Brâncoveanu, ruler of Wallachia, established the Princely Academy of Saint Sava in Bucharest with the initial language of instruction being Greek. Later, in 1776, Alexander Ypsilantis, another ruler of Wallachia, reformed the curriculum of the Saint Sava Academy by having added courses of the French, Italian and Latin languages. In 1859, the Faculty of Law was created. In 1857, Carol Davila established the National School of Medicine and Pharmacy. In 1857, the foundation stone of the University Palace in Bucharest was laid. In 1956, student leaders, mainly from this university, planned a peaceful protest against Romania's Communist regime but were forcibly prevented from carrying it out.

The area around the old University building (the University Square), adjacent to the C. A. Rosetti, Roman, Kogălniceanu, and Union Squares was the scene of many riots, protests and clashes with security forces during the Romanian Revolution of 1989. In the months of April–June 1990, the University of Bucharest was the centre of anti-communist protests.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Bucharest National Theatre

7) Bucharest National Theatre

The Bucharest National Theatre is one of the national theatres of Romania, located in the capital city of Bucharest. It was founded as the Teatrul cel Mare din Bucureşti ("The Grand Theatre of Bucharest") in 1852, and its first director was Costache Caragiale. It became a national institution in 1864 by a decree of Prime Minister Mihail Kogălniceanu, and was officially named the National Theatre in 1875. Nowadays, it is administered by the Romanian Ministry of Culture.

In April 1836, the Societatea Filarmonica — a cultural society founded by Ion Heliade Rădulescu and Ion Câmpineanu — bought the Câmpinencii Inn in order to build a National Theatre on its site, upon which they began to collect money and materials for this purpose. The preliminary cost of the project, as per the contractor's report of August 13, 1843, was estimated at 20,300 Austrian guilders (standard gold coins), of which only 13,000 were actually available. In 1846, another contractor company was hired by Viennese architect A. Hefft, who came up with a more affordable plan. The construction got under way in 1848, only to be interrupted in June by the Wallachian revolution. In August 1849, after Prince Barbu Dimitrie Ştirbei took the power, he ordered that the construction be completed.

The edifice was built in a Baroque style, with 338 stalls on the main floor, three levels of loges, a luxurious foyer with staircases of Carrara marble and a large gallery for students who were allowed to attend free of charge. For the first two years, the theatre was lit with tallow lamps, but from 1854 it used rape oil lamps which were later replaced by gaslights and eventually electric lights. In 1875, by which time the theatre had changed its name to Teatrul Naţional, its director became the writer Alexandru Odobescu.

The historic theatre building on Calea Victoriei — now featured on the 100-leu banknote — was destroyed during the Luftwaffe bombardment of Bucharest on August 24, 1944. The current National Theatre is located about half kilometre away from the old site, to the south of the Hotel Intercontinental at Piaţa Universităţii (University Square), and has been in use since 1973.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Italian Church

8) Italian Church

The Italian Church of the Most Holy Redeemer is a Roman Catholic church located in Bucharest, Romania, at 28 Nicolae Bălcescu Blvd., one of the city's busiest streets. The Neo-Gothic red brick edifice was built in 1930 to a design by Mario Stoppa and Giuseppe Furaboschi. Owned by the Italian government, it is surrounded by grey concrete apartment blocks. Services are held daily in Romanian at 6 PM, and on Sundays, in Polish at 9 AM, Romanian at 10 AM, and Italian at 11 AM.

The building was modeled on the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazzie in Milan. It features an impressive campanile with four bells. The surrounding blocks of buildings date back to the 1930s and give the church a contrasting background. The Italian Church suffered serious damage in the earthquakes of 1940, 1977 and 1986 but was later restored.

It remained closed for the public until 1968 and was reopened during the visit of Italian Prime Minister Amintore Fanfani.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Romanian Athenaeum

9) Romanian Athenaeum (must see)

The Romanian Athenaeum is a concert hall in the center of Bucharest and an architectural landmark of the Romanian capital city. Opened in 1888, this ornate, domed, circular building is the city's main concert hall and the home of the George Enescu Philharmonic and the George Enescu annual international music festival.

Dedicated to serve the needs of art and science, the Romanian Atheneum Cultural Society was founded in 1865 by a group of cultural and scientific personalities, such as Constantin Esarcu, V. A. Urechia and Nicolae Creţulescu. The building was designed by French architect Albert Galleron, and was built on the property that once belonged to the Văcărescu family. Although the building itself was inaugurated in 1888, the actual work on it continued until 1897. A portion of the construction funds was raised by public subscription in the course of a 28-year long campaign, the slogan of which is still remembered today as "Donate one leu for the Ateneu!"

On December 29, 1919, the Atheneum hosted the conference of prominent Romanians who voted to ratify the unification of Bessarabia, Transylvania, and Bukovina with the Romanian Old Kingdom in a bid to resurrect Greater Romania.

Extensive reconstruction and restoration work was conducted in 1992 by a Romanian construction company and restoration painter Silviu Petrescu in order to save the building from collapse.

The overall style is neoclassical, with some more romantic touches. In front of the building there is a small park and a statue of Romanian poet Mihai Eminescu. Inside, the ground floor hosts an ornate conference hall as large as the auditorium above; the auditorium seats 600 in the stalls and another 52 in loge seating. A 75-metre long and 3-metre wide fresco decorates the inside of the circular wall of the concert hall. Painted in the al fresco technique, the piece depicts the most important moments of the Romanian history, starting with the conquest of Dacia by Roman emperor Trajan and ending with the realization of Greater Romania in 1918.

Recognized as the symbol of Romanian culture, the building was added in 2007 to the Label of European Heritage Sites.
Sight description based on wikipedia
National Museum of Art of Romania

10) National Museum of Art of Romania (must see)

The National Museum of Art of Romania is located in the former royal palace in Revolution Square, central Bucharest, built in 1937. The museum holds notable collections of medieval and modern Romanian art, as well as international works assembled by the Romanian royal family.

The museum was damaged during the 1989 Romanian Revolution that led to the downfall of Nicolae Ceauşescu. In 2000, part of the museum reopened to the public, housing the modern Romanian collection and the international collection; the comprehensive medieval art collection, which now features works salvaged from monasteries destroyed during the Ceauşescu era, reopened in spring 2002. There are also two halls that house temporary exhibits.

The modern Romanian collection features sculptures by Constantin Brâncuşi and Dimitrie Paciurea, as well as paintings by Theodor Aman, Nicolae Grigorescu, Theodor Pallady, Gheorghe Petraşcu, and Gheorghe Tattarescu. The international collection includes works by Old Masters, such as Domenico Veneziano, El Greco, Tintoretto, Jan van Eyck, Jan Brueghel the Elder, Peter Paul Rubens, and Rembrandt, plus a smattering of works by impressionists, such as Claude Monet and Alfred Sisley. Among the most famous Old Master works presented here are Jacopo Amigoni's portrait of singer Farinelli, Crucifixion by Antonello da Messina, and Alonso Cano's Christ at the Column.

Operation hours: Wednesday to Sunday: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Bucharest, Romania

Create Your Own Walk in Bucharest

Create Your Own Walk in Bucharest

Creating your own self-guided walk in Bucharest is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Bucharest Introduction Walking Tour

Bucharest Introduction Walking Tour

Being one of the largest cities in Southeastern Europe, Bucharest has a lot to offer its visitors. Once you decide to take a tour around the Romanian capital, you must definitely visit the most impressive sights in the city centre. Take this tour to discover the must-see attractions of this booming metropolis.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 Km or 2.1 Miles
Top Religious Buildings

Top Religious Buildings

The Romanian capital city is grand with many unique and truly amazing places of worship. Bucharest is the place where the oldest and the most beautiful churches of Romania are located one near another. Take this tour to discover the most prominent religious sights of Bucharest.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.4 Km or 1.5 Miles
Souvenir Shopping

Souvenir Shopping

It would be a pity to leave Bucharest without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Bucharest, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.8 Km or 4.8 Miles

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