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DIY Sightseeing in Bucharest

Stavropoleos Monastery Cloister
One of the top attractions of Bucharest is the Stavropoleos Church and Monastery from the 18th century. While it is in the heart of the old town, it is a tranquil place.

Church of Stavropoleos Monastery 
The Church was built in 1724. It was severely damaged by an earthquake in 1838. In 1841 the steeple was taken down due to the risk of its imminent collapse. The long process of restoring the Church and monastery began in the beginning of the 20th century from the designs of Ion Mincu. Today, there are six nuns living in the monastery.

Iconostasis of the Church of Stavropoleos

Stavropoleos Monastery 
This fresco of the archangels is hung on the wall of the cloister.

Cărturesți Carusel
This is definitely one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, an attraction that can’t be missed when visiting Bucharest. It’s not only a bookstore, it’s a gift shop, an art gallery, a record store and has a café on the top floor. There are so many things to tempt the visitor here.

Cărturesți Carusel
What bookstore do you know has a shelf stacked with wine and wine accessories? Cheers!

Hanul cu Tei (Linden Tree Inn)
This former inn was built in 1833 and retains its appearance from that period. Today it hosts art galleries and a cellar bar. This entrance is from Lipscani Street.

Lipscani Street
Lipscani Street is one of the main streets of the old town and is a gathering place both day and night for its many restaurants and bars.

Sense of humor?

Memorial of Rebirth, Alexandro Ghildrus, 2005
This white marble obelisk with a metal crown honors the victims of the Romanian revolution of 1989 and the fall of communism. The crown represents the sacrifices of the martyrs of the revolution and the faceless figures at the base are the people who fought for freedom and democracy.

What I love about Bucharest are the tree-lined boulevards so one can walk comfortably and when tired, sit at any of the benches thoughtfully placed by the side of the promenade. This particular area is along Unirii Boulevard and leads to the Palace of the Parliament.

Palace of the Parliament (Palatul Parlamentului)
Nicolae Ceausescu had the grandiose idea to build the biggest palace in the world and so he did. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t get to use it as he was toppled by the Romanian Revolution in 1989 and executed with his wife, Elena, on December 22, 1989. The Palace was completed in 1997 at a cost of €3 to €4 billion (accounts vary). The building is currently only 30% occupied by the Senate, House of Deputies and Museum of Contemporary Art. Since the Revolution, the Palace has been called the House of the Republic and/or the People’s House. It is the third biggest administrative building in the world.

Palace of the Parliament (The People’s House)
The Palace of the Parliament sparkles against the dark of night. View from the Novotel Hotel.

St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church
Aimlessly walking around town, I stumbled upon stunning works of art, arresting  architecture and busy streets filled with outdoor restaurants and a lively crowd.

Sculpture at University Square
I was struck by the facial expression of this figure gracing the gate to the Oscar Maugsch Palace.

This beautiful wooden building is one of my favorite random finds in the old town. It’s in the Glassmaker’s Court or the Curtea Sticlarilor. There’s not much information about its provenance but according to the only source I found, this building may have been part of the Palatul Doamnei si Coconilor or Palace of the Ladies and Lads built between 1714-1716 by Prince Stefan Cantacuzino. 

Artmark, an Art Gallery and Auction House
I happened to pass by this art gallery and found a few pieces of sculpture displayed in the driveway. I couldn’t resist checking out the intriguing artworks. What a pleasant surprise! On C.A. Rossetti Street which is two blocks from the Roman Athenaeum and in front of the Theodor Aman Museum.

Odeon Theater
The Odeon Theater has been around since 1946. It is an award winning repertory theater. The building with its beautiful columns is a historical monument designed by Grigore Cerchez. It was inaugurated in 1911 and has a sliding ceiling. The bust in front of the theater is of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Republic of Türkiye.  

Bucharest Manhole Cover with Coat of Arms
Manholes are interesting plates of history. This one has the coat of arms of Bucharest (Bucuresti) with St. Demetrius, the patron saint of the city, holding a cross and a spear resting on a shield placed against the breast of an eagle. The eagle holds a sword on his left claw and a scepter on the right. His beak bears a cross. Above the eagle is a crown with seven crenellated towers. At the bottom of the larger shield is a ribbon that says, Patria Si Dreptul Meu (My Country, My Right). Can you believe the thought, design and preparation behind this manhole cover? Amazing!

Passajul Victoria, The Umbrella Street
Do-it-yourself (DIY) Itinerary for Bucharest
Day 1 Walk from Unirii Square to Palace of the Parliament
Photo stop at the fountains on Unirii Square before strolling along the tree-shaded boulevard to the Palace of the Parliament. Tour the Palace. Late lunch at La Placinte.
Day 2 Explore the Old Town
Visit Stavropoleos Church and Monastery, check out Cărturesți Carusel, stop by Hanul cu Tei, wander around the Old Town. Late lunch at one of the numerous restaurants on Lipscani Street or in the neighborhood. Stroll to University Square after lunch and check out the attractions here including the gilded domes of St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church and the beautiful sculptures at the gate of the Maugsch Palace.
Day 3 Discover the attractions along Calea Victoriei (Victory Street)
Start at the Memorial to Rebirth monument, continue on to the Romanian Athenaeum which is an impressive neoclassical concert hall from 1888 before returning to Victory Street. Stop at Revolution Square and cross the street to the National Museum of Art. You can spend hours here admiring the collection of artworks on display. Walk to Artmark on Rossetti Street to see their outdoor sculpture display and if you have time, check out their gallery. In front of Artmark is the Theodor Aman Museum, a mansion from 1868 and the home of the painter, engraver and art professor, Theodor Aman. His oil paintings are on display here along with antique furniture, murals and stained glass. Continue on Victory Street to Pasajul Victoria to check out the rainbow umbrellas before strolling to the Macca-Villacrosse passage and reenergize at one of the cafés while admiring the yellow glass and iron roof. Retrace your steps on Victory Street, stop by the Odeon Theater and don’t miss the bust of Ataturk, the founder of Turkiÿe. Dinner at Winestone inside Novotel Hotel.

Romanian Athenaeum
There are many more places to discover in Bucharest. Cismigiu Gardens is on my list for my next visit along with a trip back in time at the Dimitrie Gusti National Village Museum. I also would like to attend a concert at the Athenaeum. Bucuresti (Bucharest) as its name implies is the “city of joy”. So you can’t miss a beat!

Planning Guide
Romania is a member of the European Union but is not part of the Schengen Zone at this time.
Flag: 🇹🇩
Currency: Romanian Leu. US$1.00=4.49 leu (as of August 2023)
Power plug and voltage230V and the frequency is 50Hz. You’ll need a travel adaptor with rounded pins.

Where to stay:
Novotel Bucharest City Center
Calea Victoriei 37b
all.accor.com for reservations
The Novotel has a central location and within walking distance to most attractions in the city including the National Museum of Art, Victory Monument, the Athenaeum, the Old Town, University Square, Pasajul Victoria, Odeon Theater and the Macca-Villacrosse Passage. I would definitely stay there again on my next visit.

Where to eat:
Winestone at Novotel

This restaurant has a varied selection of dishes to please every discerning palate. I liked many items on the menu so I ate here twice. Expect a generous serving and enjoy. It also has a popular wine bar.

La Placinte
Boulevard Mircea Voda 30
I’m always pleased to find a good restaurant that serves seafood. The fish was moist and fresh and the side of vegetables offered was generous. I sat outside on the deck and it was quite pleasant. I wish I had discovered this restaurant at the beginning of my trip. La Placinte is a chain restaurant with branches throughout the city.

How to get around:
I walked around Bucharest for the most part but took Uber to the old town when I was staying at Mercure Unirii. The rate was surprisingly low. The other time I took Uber was to the airport and the rate was half of the private pick-up upon my arrival. Another option for transport in Bucharest is the bus which covers the city so you can easily get around. 

If you prefer a private guided tour:
Nicolas Experience Tours has private guided tours of the city and beyond. Follow this link for reservations: https://experience-tours.ro/

*****

Images by TravelswithCharie 

 

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