Romania’s capital will keep visitors interested during their holidays in Bucharest as the city is rife with history and rich in culture. Historic landmarks and sites of the Soviet era intermingle with quarters from centuries past, bringing together a view of quaint old Romanian life that contrasts with the grey dullness and communist grandiosity of the Ceausescu era and the lore of the real-life inspiration for Dracula. Art lovers will revel in the impressive collections of art as well as the city’s stature in the world of classical music.
The third-largest building in the world in terms of floor space and the largest in Europe, the Parliament Palace covers 330,000 square meters, and houses the Romanian Parliament and the National Museum. Construction on the palace began in the later years of Nicolae Ceausescu dictatorship, when he ordered that a historic hill and the neighborhood be cleared to make room for it. The palace is 12 stories in height and has four underground levels in use and four more under construction. Overall, the building measures 270 meters by 240 meters and 86 meters high.
The end of President Nicolae Ceausescu’s rule was laid bare and revealed to the president in this very square in December 1989, as 80,000 people he had thought to be supporters chanted angrily about the secret police’s arrest of an outspoken priest. The president emerged from the balcony of the Central Committee building (now the Romanian senate) and his face fell, revealing his shock and realization to his people and the world in the televised event. Ceausescu and his wife attempted to flee by helicopter from the roof, but in the end, they were captured, quickly tried and shot.
Bucharest’s traditional core has mostly revolved around the old, cobblestone streets between the River Dambovita, Calea Victory, Boulevard Bratianu and Boulevard Regina Elisabeta. This area is still vibrant and hosts several clubs, bars, coffeehouses and restaurants. The quarter revolves around the Old Court, which has been reduced to a few remnants and only viewable from the inside by a pre-arranged visit.