Bucharest Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Bucharest

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.
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Bucharest Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Bucharest Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: Romania » Bucharest (See other walking tours in Bucharest)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 12
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 Km or 2.1 Miles
Author: DanaU
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Palace of the Parliament
  • Piața Unirii
  • Manuc's Inn
  • Curtea Veche
  • Stavropoleos Convent
  • CEC Palace
  • University Square
  • The National Military Circle
  • Revolution Square
  • Memorial of Rebirth
  • National Museum of Art of Romania
  • Romanian Athenaeum
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
Piața Unirii

2) Piața Unirii

Piaţa Unirii (English: Unity Square) is one of the largest squares in central Bucharest, located at the junction of Sectors 1, 2, 3, and 4. It is crossed by Bulevardul Unirii and was originally built, during the Communist era, as the Victory of Socialism Boulevard, but then renamed after the Romanian Revolution of 1989.

The square is a significant transport hub, containing the Piaţa Unirii metro station and a major interchange for RATB buses; there is also a tram terminal near the southwest corner. The Unirea Shopping Center, Cocor department store, and a large taxi stop are located on the east side of this square, while the Hanul lui Manuc hotel is on the north side, near the northeast corner. In the centre of the square is a small park with fountains which are particularly popular with commuters and passers-by in the torrid summer months. There were plans, at some point, to build in this place the Romanian National Salvation Cathedral, but the idea proved technically impossible, due to the busy underground environment, and had little support with the locals; thence the location was changed.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Manuc's Inn

3) Manuc's Inn (must see)

Manuc's Inn was until recently, when it was shut for restoration and refurbishment, the oldest operating hotel in Bucharest. It used to house a popular restaurant, several bars, a coffee-house, and (facing the street) several stores and an extensive bar. Its massive, multi-balconied courtyard has hosted many performances and fairs, and been a popular place for Romanian television to shoot folkloric programmes. The hotel and restaurant were closed down in 2007 for refurbishment. The shops and the bar, known as Cafeaneaua Bucurestilor de Altadata ("Yesteryear Bucharest Café") and Festival 39 respectively, remained open (though the bar closed in February 2010). The hotel and the restaurant are expected to reopen under new management once the restoration and refurbishment are complete. However, there has been disagreement between the municipal government and the proprietors about the legitimacy of certain modernizations being undertaken.

The inn was built in 1808 and was originally owned by the wealthy and flamboyant Armenian entrepreneur, Emanuel Mârzaian, better known by his Turkish name Manuc-bei. By the middle of the 19th century, it was Bucharest's most important commercial complex, with 15 wholesalers, 23 retail stores, 107 rooms for offices or living, two reception facilities and a pub.

Although Manuc's Inn has been a subject of many restorations — in 1848, 1863, 1966–1970, 1991–1992, as well as the one currently under way — its essential structure remains intact; of the three surviving 19th century inns in the Lipscani district, this is the only one still in use as a hotel.

The inn was the site of the preliminary talks for the Treaty of Bucharest, which put an end to the 1806–1812 Russo-Turkish war. In 1842 it briefly housed Bucharest's town hall. Around 1880, a hall in the inn was used as a theatre, and was the site of the first Romanian operetta show. Before Romania entered World War I, in 1914–1916, the hall "Sala Dacia" hosted meetings of the Wallachian pro-war party that sought to establish a Greater Romania by uniting with Transylvania and Bukovina; speakers for the party included Nicolae Filipescu, Take Ionescu, Barbu Ştefănescu Delavrancea, and Octavian Goga. The building was nationalized on 19 February 1949. The private ownership of the building was restored, to Prince Şerban-Constantin Cantacuzino, in February 2007.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Curtea Veche

4) Curtea Veche (must see)

Curtea Veche (the Old Princely Court), built as a princely residence during the rule of Vlad III Dracula in the 15th century, now operates as a museum in the centre of Bucharest. The residence itself, along with the Wallachian capital, was moved to Bucharest under the rule of Radu cel Frumos. In the 16th century, Mircea Ciobanul rebuilt it completely and subsequently it became the nucleus of Bucharest surrounded by houses of traders and craftsmen. Alexander Ypsilantis built a new princely court in 1775 at Dealul Spirii, upon which the old one acquired its present name. In its current role as a museum, the palace and the neighbourhood inspired Mateiu Caragiale to write his novel Craii de Curtea-Veche. It is also at the centre of efforts to restore the historic centre of Bucharest.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Stavropoleos Convent

5) 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

6) 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
University Square

7) University Square (must see)

University Square (Romanian: Piaţa Universităţii) is located in downtown Bucharest, near the University of Bucharest.

There are four statues in University Square, standing in front of the University, depicting Ion Heliade Rădulescu (1879), Michael the Brave (1874), Gheorghe Lazăr (1889) and Spiru Haret (1932). The square was the site of the 1990 Golaniad, a peaceful student protest against ex-communists in the Romanian government. The demonstration ended violently when miners from Jiu Valley were called in by then president Ion Iliescu to restore order in Bucharest. The Ion Luca Caragiale Bucharest National Theatre and the Intercontinental Hotel (one of the tallest buildings in Bucharest) are also located near University Square.
Sight description based on wikipedia
The National Military Circle

8) 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.
Revolution Square

9) Revolution Square

Revolution Square (Romanian: Piaţa Revoluţiei) is a square in central Bucharest, on Calea Victoriei. Initially known as Piaţa Palatului (Palace Square), until 1989, it was renamed following the 1989 Romanian Revolution.

The former Royal Palace (currently, the National Museum of Art of Romania), the Athenaeum, the Athénée Palace Hotel, the University of Bucharest Library, and the Memorial of Rebirth are all located here. The square also holds the building of the former Central Committee of the Romanian Communist Party (from where Nicolae Ceauşescu and his wife fled by helicopter on December 22, 1989). In 1990, the building became the seat of the Senate and since 2006 has accommodated the Ministry of the Interior and Administrative Reform.

Prior to 1948, an equestrian statue of King Carol I of Romania stood there. Created in 1930 by the Croatian-American sculptor Ivan Meštrović, the statue was destroyed in 1948 by the Communists, who never paid damages to the sculptor. In 2005, the Romanian Minister of Culture decided to recreate the destroyed statue from a model that was kept by Meštrović's family. In 2007, the Bucharest City Hall assigned the project to sculptor Florin Codre, set to create a new statue of Carol inspired by Meštrović's model (most consider it plagiarism).

In August 1968 and December 1989, the square was the site of two mass meetings which represented, accordingly, the apogee and the nadir of Ceauşescu's regime. The 1968 moment marked the highest point in Ceauşescu's popularity, when he openly condemned the invasion of Czechoslovakia and started pursuing the policy of independence from Kremlin. The 1989 meeting was meant to emulate the 1968 assembly and was presented by the official media as a "spontaneous movement of support for Ceauşescu", erupting in the popular revolt which led to the end of his regime.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Memorial of Rebirth

10) Memorial of Rebirth

The Memorial of Rebirth in Bucharest commemorates the struggle and victims of the Revolution of 1989 which saw the end of Communist rule in Romania. The memorial complex was inaugurated in August 2005 and is located in Revolution Square, the place where Romania's Communist-era dictator, Nicolae Ceauşescu, was publicly overthrown in December 1989.

The memorial, designed by Alexandru Ghilduş, features as its centrepiece a 25-metre-high marble pillar reaching up to the sky, upon which a metal "crown" is placed. The pillar stands amid a 600 m² plaza covered in marble and granite. Its initial name was the "Eternal Glory to the Heroes of and the Romanian Revolution of December 1989" (Glorie Eternă Eroilor şi Revoluţiei Române din Decembrie 1989). The name alludes to Romania's rebirth as a nation after the collapse of Communism.

Despite a commonly-acknowledged need for a memorial commemorating Romania's 1989 revolution, the monument - mainly its design - sparked a great deal of controversy when inaugurated in 2005. Many artists stated that the memorial, especially its central pillar, was devoid of any symbolism, being too abstract, and thus didn't adequately represent the suffering and magnitude of the 1989 revolution, which claimed nearly 1,500 lives. The placement of the memorial was also criticized and the Urbanism Committees of both the 3rd Sector of Bucharest and that of the entire city rejected the design, although they acted merely as official consultants and the memorial was erected anyway. Owing to its relative unpopularity, the monument is guarded round-the-clock, but despite this, on the night of 12 May 2006, it was vandalized. A stencil graffiti figure representing the fictional revolutionary character "V" was drawn on the side facing the National Museum of Art.
Sight description based on wikipedia
National Museum of Art of Romania

11) 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
Romanian Athenaeum

12) 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

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.
Children Entertainment Tour

Children Entertainment Tour

Bucharest is good not only for adults, but also has plenty to offer the little ones. The outstanding Museum of the Romanian Peasant will equally impress children and grown-ups. The Geology Museum as well as the Grigore Antipa Museum of Natural History are considered to be a must for children while in Bucharest.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.9 Km or 0.6 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
Bucharest Parks Walking Tour

Bucharest Parks Walking Tour

Secluded from all the hustle and bustle of the city, rich in vegetation and alleys, Bucharest's parks are the places where you can relax and stay in harmony with the nature. Bucharest has plenty of parks with historic monuments and beautiful lakes that make it famous among other European cities. Take this tour to the most amazing parks of the Romanian capital.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 Km or 2.5 Miles
Bucharest Architecture Jewels

Bucharest Architecture Jewels

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...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 Km or 1.9 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

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