Top Religious Buildings (Self Guided), Bucharest

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.
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Top Religious Buildings Map

Guide Name: Top Religious Buildings
Guide Location: Romania » Bucharest (See other walking tours in Bucharest)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.4 Km or 1.5 Miles
Author: DanaU
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Bucur Church
  • New Saint Spyridon Church
  • New Saint John Church
  • Old Saint George Church
  • Bucharest Bărăţia
  • New Saint George Church
  • Bucharest Russian Church
  • Coltea Church
Bucur Church

1) Bucur Church

Bucur Church is the church that once served as the chapel for the Radu Voda Monastery. The exact age of the church is not known and has been the subject of much discussion among Romanian historians. For a long time, many historians have insisted that the building features the style specific of the 18th century, while others have held to the legend which claims that the church was built by the shepherd Bucur, whose name is also associated with the name of the city of Bucharest. The church appeared on a map for the first time between 1844 and 1846 under the name of Bucur Church.

In the past, the church was located on the same hill as the Radu Vodă Monastery. In the 18th century the hill was divided into halves to allow the building of a street in the middle. Although the church had been recorded in a number of texts by both Romanian and foreign authors as having been built by the founder of Bucharest, the shepherd Bucur, later researchers have put the time of its construction at the 17th century with further reconstruction in the first half of the 18th. Other researchers have established that the church was built in the first half of the 17th century to serve as the chapel for the Radu Vodă Monastery. There are also opinions that the church was built in 1416 by Mircea cel Batran [the Elder].

In the work titled “The History of the Founding of the city of Bucharest - the Capital of the Kingdom of Romania - from 1330 to 1850" there are many texts which assert the that the church was built by the shepherd Bucur. Until 1974, many of those who had studied the history of the church felt that the builder of the church could not be the shepherd Bucur, as he himself was likely to be a pure legend that first appeared in the book on the Principlaities written by the British Consul William Wilkinson and published in London in 1820. However, the most recent study has revealed a manuscript written by Catholic Missionary Blasius Kleiner in 1761 that attests to the legend as a true historic fact. In particular, Kleiner wrote, “They say that this city gets its mane from a certain shepherd or, as others say, a famous bandit, who was called Bucur. This man pastured his sheep in the field by the Dambovita River, and maybe there also carried out his banditry. Later, he built a church and began to build a few houses for himself and a few others.”

Entrance to the church is made through a similarly elegant porch, similar to those found in peasant houses in Romania, supported by wooden posts. Above, the building has a cupola with a mushroom-shaped roof. The windows and doors, ornamented with carved stone, were added at the beginning of the 20th century.
Sight description based on wikipedia
New Saint Spyridon Church

2) New Saint Spyridon Church

The New Saint Spyridon Church is a Romanian Orthodox church in Bucharest, located at 29 Calea Şerban Vodă. Originally built with considerable Gothic influence, the building (especially the towers) was strongly modified later on by Patriarch Justinian.

In 1768, another church was built on the site. It was erected for Scarlat Ghica by his son, Alexandru Ghica. Eventually, the church was seriously damaged by a number of earthquakes and fires and was subjected to reconstruction.

The present church was built in 1852-1858 and painted in oil. Particularly notable is the altar screen, the work of painter Gh.Tattarescu.

In 1885, a strong wind destroyed some parts of the main façade which was immediately restored without sticking much to the original. In 1954, after a serious earthquake, full repairs had to be performed. On that occasion, two side balconies were added inside the church plus another one beneath the existing balcony designed for chorus. After 1966, the towers and arches were strengthened and the initial oak foundation was replaced with that of reinforced concrete.

The huge construction has retained its original neo-Gothic style. The form of the church is rectangular, consisting of a single nave preceded by a small vestibule which ends with the polygonal apse of the altar to the East. The entrance represents a small porch situated between the side towers with a central arch and two lateral narrow bays, supported by columns. Inside, the aisle is covered with a barrel vault system, arches and pendants, over which, in the centre of the nave, rises the main tower. Large windows are decorated with stained glass made in Vienna.

The Saint Spyridon the New Church (Romanian: Sfântul Spiridon Nou) is a Romanian Orthodox church in Bucharest, Romania on Calea Şerban Vodă, no. 29. Originally built with gothic influences, it was strongly modified by Patriarch Justinian (especially the towers).
Sight description based on wikipedia
New Saint John Church

3) New Saint John Church

Located at the crossing of Corneliu Coposu and I.C. Bratianu Boulevards, the New Saint John Church was erected in 1756 by Ionita Croitorul, leader of the the old furriers and dyer guilds. The church has had different names over the years, including “St. John Church from the Square (Rom: Biserica Sfantul Ioan de la gura Pietii)”, “The New St. John Church near Beilicului Bridge (Sfantul Ioan cel Nou din Podul Beiliculu)” and “St. John of Parscoveanul (Sfantul Ioan al Parscoveanului)”, each of which referred to a certain location near the great properties of the steward Stefan Parscoveanul, who took care of this place and restored it in 1790.

In 1818, the New St. John Church was rebuilt by a group of people led by the monk named Ioanichie. In 1847, following the Great Fire, during the rule of Gheorghe Bibescu, the building was restored by the leader of the dyers, Iordache. In 1878, the church was painted by certain artist Serafim.

The church represents a rectangular shaped nave with two towers. A single apse of the altar is connected to the aisle by two pseudo-apses. Four columns support the arches that, in their turn, sustain the twelve sided dome with a square base.

A mosaic-icon, depicting the Baptism of the Lord, is seen on the church's tower bell. The interior painting is divided into panels on the background painted in white oil. On the west wall of the narthex, there is a small stone cross with the Romanian inscription reading, “Resting here are the remains of some of the [church] founders, interred here at the moving of the church in 1986”.
Old Saint George Church

4) Old Saint George Church

The Old Saint George Church is located in the centre of Bucharest, some 400 metres to the south of the New Saint George Church, surrounded by residential buildings and shops.

Being, firstly, a parish church, then a monastery - for a short time, and eventually, even a metropolitan office, this holy place of worship has played a great cultural and administrative role in the life of the City of Bucur.

The church was almost destroyed by the fire of 1718, but was rebuilt by the leader of the fur guild, Iamandi Dragul. Shaken by earthquakes of 1802 and 1838, the Old Saint George Church was completely ruined by the Great Fire of March 23, 1847 and was again restored by the group of parishioners led by the reeve Marinciu Petrovici.

The church we see today is the result of the reconstruction carried out by engineer Dumitru Poenaru, builder Fritz Schiller, and wood sculptor Petre Babic. The works were completed in 1881 with the finishing painting done by professor Gheorghe Pompilian. The iconostasis is carved in wood and belongs to the same Ukrainian Baroque style as the entire church building.

The Old Saint George Church has a large narthex typical of the XIX century. The small vestibule with three entrance doors is bounded by the two towers of the west façade. The narthex is vaulted, slightly flattened, with two very deep apses and topped with a steeple. The exterior of the church is simple and consists of pilasters with neo-Corinthian capitals. A neoclassical gable is placed above the porch.
Bucharest Bărăţia

5) Bucharest Bărăţia

Bărăţia is one of the Roman Catholic churches in Bucharest, Romania. It is located in the heart of the city, on I.C. Brătianu Blvd, next to Piaţa Unirii. Its name, used in antiquated Romanian for several Catholic churches, derives from the Hungarian word of Slavic origin, barát, which means "friend" or "monk".

The history of the church can be traced back to 1314, when Franciscan monks built a wooden church near the early settlements at the location of present-day Bucharest, mainly for Italian merchants travelling to the Byzantine Empire. Bucharest was founded in 1459, and the wooden church has been rebuilt several times since. In 1629-1633, a new stone church was constructed by Franciscan monks from the Province of Bulgaria. In 1716, the Wallachian Prince Ştefan Cantacuzino promised that he would repair it, but unfortunately had to abdicate that same year. Leopold I donated 1,500 golden ducats for the repairs, to which Prince Nicholas Mavrocordatos contributed another 280 ducats, and the work was finished in 1741. The church burnt down during the 1847 Bucharest fire and its reconstruction, which ended in 1848, was financed by the Imperial House of Vienna, donating 4,000 guilders. The big bell was cast in 1855, being financed by Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria. During the Communist era, many buildings of the parish were demolished or confiscated by the State. The church underwent a major renovation in 1954.

Today, masses are served three times a day on weekdays and six times on Sunday; including those in the Hungarian and German languages for the local ethnic minorities.
Sight description based on wikipedia
New Saint George Church

6) New Saint George Church

Situated between Unirii Square and Universitatii Square, the New Saint George Church was built during the rule of Constantin Brâncoveanu in Wallachia.

In 1705, Constantin Brâncoveanu demolished a fifteenth century church and built on its site a new one. Craftsmen Vucaşin Caragea, Manea and Pârvu Mutu worked on the project under the guidance of architect Veseleil. A fire in 1718 devastated the monastery and its khan. The restoration works were carried out under the supervision of the ruler, Ioan Mavrocordat. The earthquake of 1802 destroyed the vaults and the domes, and the church was later restored without domes. After the fire of 1847, the New Saint George Church was repaired in 1851 by architect Xavier Villacrosse, assisted by painters Misu Popp and Constantin Lecca.

The present church has a porch with 7 front and 3 side arches supported by columns with floral capitals raised on a fretted parapet. The narthex is square with 4 columns that support a central dome. The passage to the nave is separated by 3 arches that lean on columns. Then a narrower area comes, the crypt, covered with a large arch. The second bigger octagonal tower is placed over the nave with bossy side apses.
Bucharest Russian Church

7) Bucharest Russian Church

The Russian Church of St. Nicholas is located in central Bucharest, just off University Square. Russian Ambassador Mikhail Nikolaevich Giers commissioned the construction of a Russian Orthodox church in the heart of Bucharest in 1905. It was meant primarily for the use by the legation employees, as well as the Russians who lived in the capital city of the Romanian Kingdom at that time. The Court of Emperor Nicholas II provided funds for the construction. The building occupies the surface of 350 m² and is made wholly of brick and stone. The seven domes (taking the shape of onion domes — typical of Russia, but unusual for Romania — were initially covered in gold. The iconostasis was carved in wood and covered with gold, modelled on the Church of Twelve Apostles in the Moscow Kremlin, and was then decorated by the renowned Russian painter Viktor Vasnetsov.

The church was finished in 1909 and was sanctified on November 25, 1909. During World War I, just before the occupation of Bucharest by the Central Powers, it was closed, with all its valuables and archives transported to Iaşi and then farther North-East to Saint Petersburg, where they ultimately vanished in the chaos of the Socialist Revolution of 1917. After the war, physical damage to the building was repaired by the Russian community in Bucharest, and the services resumed in 1921. As the service was held in Old Church Slavonic, it was also attended by ethnic Bulgarians and Serbs residing in the Romanian capital. After the old Russian priest had died in 1935, the church was transferred under the authority of the Romanian Government, and was designated for the use by students and professors of the University of Bucharest. In 1947, at the request of the Soviet government, the church was once again placed under the Patriarchate of Moscow, which sent in a new Russian priest and provided funds for refurbishment. In 1957, Patriarch Alexius I decided to return the building to the Romanian Orthodox Church, which had it restored once again. It was re-sanctified in 1967 and in 1992 was again made available for the use by students and professors of the University of Bucharest. Because of its present congregation, the church is now often referred to as Biserica Studenţilor ("The students' church").
Sight description based on wikipedia
Coltea Church

8) Coltea Church

Erected between 1698 and 1702, Coltea Church is located close to University Square, next to Coltea Hospital, built in 1888, and it is one of Bucharest's 19th century architectural landmarks.

The Coltea Church was seriously damaged during the great earthquake of 1838, and was restored by architect Faiser. After the bombing of 1944 it underwent restoration in 1949. Since 1996, the church has been in the process of consolidation and repair; the work being slow due to the lack of funds.

The Coltea Church architecture features a three-cusped plan with the belfry placed on the narthex complete with the porch leaning on pillars and thick walls. It was built by Chancellor Cantacuzino in an Italian Baroque style with rich details of Brancoveanu style. The fabulous fresco inside the church is the work of Romanian painter Tattarescu. To erect this place of worship craftsmen were brought from both the West and the East. The dome of the nave is supported by two large arches: one going down to the floor, and the other one - to the narthex that leans on stone carved brackets. The nave is separated from the narthex by three arches, in the very centre, leaning on twisted fluted columns, with neo-Corinthian capitals and carved bases.

The harmony between architectural elements and those of fresco and oil paintings, as well as the richness of stone and wood carvings, makes this monument one of the most impressive in the Romanian capital.

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