|— City —|
|County||Municipality of Bucharest|
|- Mayor||Sorin Oprescu (Independent)|
|- City||228 km2 (88 sq mi)|
|- Urban||285 km2 (110 sq mi)|
|Elevation||60–90 m (197–295 ft)|
|Population (est. January 1, 2009)|
|- City||▲ 1,944,367|
|- Density||8,510/km2 (22,040.8/sq mi)|
|Time zone||EET (UTC+2)|
|- Summer (DST)||EEST (UTC+3)|
|Area code(s)||+40 x1|
|- Atlanta||United States|
Bucharest (Romanian: București pronounced [bukuˈreʃtʲ] ( listen)) is the capital city, industrial, cultural, and financial centre of Romania. It is the largest city in Romania, located in the southeast of the country, at Coordinates: , and lies on the banks of the Dâmboviţa River.
Bucharest was first mentioned in documents as early as 1459. Since then it has gone through a variety of changes, becoming the state capital of Romania in 1862 and steadily consolidating its position as the centre of the Romanian mass media, culture and arts. Its eclectic architecture is a mix of historical (neo-classical), interbellum (Bauhaus and Art Deco), Communist-era and modern. In the period between the two World Wars, the city's elegant architecture and the sophistication of its elite earned Bucharest the nickname of the "Little Paris of the East" (Micul Paris). Although many buildings and districts in the historic centre were damaged or destroyed by war, earthquakes and Nicolae Ceaușescu's program of systematization, many survived. In recent years, the city has been experiencing an economic and cultural boom.
According to January 1, 2009 official estimates, Bucharest proper has a population of 1,944,367. The urban area extends beyond the limits of Bucharest proper and has a population of 2 million people. Adding the satellite towns around the urban area, the metropolitan area of Bucharest has a population of 2.15 million people. According to unofficial data, the population is more than 3 million. Bucharest is the 6th largest city in the European Union by population within city limits.
Economically, Bucharest is the most prosperous in Romania and is one of the main industrial centres and transportation hubs of Eastern Europe. The city has a broad range of convention facilities, educational facilities, cultural venues, shopping arcades and recreational areas.
The name of Bucur has an uncertain origin: tradition connects the founding of Bucharest with the name of Bucur who was either a prince, an outlaw, a fisherman, a shepherd, or a hunter, according to different legends. In Romanian the word stem bucur means 'glad', 'joy', in Albanian, a language which may have historical connections with the Thracian languages, 'bukur' signifies 'beautiful' and 'esht' signifies 'is', literally translated as 'it is beautiful'.
The official city name in full is The Municipality of Bucharest (Romanian: Municipiul București).
A native or resident of Bucharest is called Bucharester (Romanian: bucureștean).
Bucharest's history alternated periods of development and decline from the early settlements of the Antiquity and until its consolidation as capital of Romania late in the 19th century.
First mentioned as "the Citadel of București" in 1459, it became a residence of the Wallachian prince Vlad III the Impaler. The Old Princely Court (Curtea Veche) was built by Mircea Ciobanul, and during following rules, Bucharest was established as the summer residence of the court, competing with Târgovişte for the status of capital after an increase in the importance of southern Muntenia brought about by the demands of the suzerain power, the Ottoman Empire.
Burned down by the Ottomans and briefly discarded by princes at the start of the 17th century, Bucharest was restored and continued to grow in size and prosperity. Its centre was around the street "Uliţa Mare", which starting 1589 was known as Lipscani. Before the 1700s, it became the most important trade centre of Wallachia and became a permanent location for the Wallachian court after 1698 (starting with the reign of Constantin Brâncoveanu).
Partly destroyed by natural disasters and rebuilt several times during the following 200 years, hit by Caragea's plague in 1813–1814, the city was wrested from Ottoman control and occupied at several intervals by the Habsburg Monarchy (1716, 1737, 1789) and Imperial Russia (three times between 1768 and 1806). It was placed under Russian administration between 1828 and the Crimean War, with an interlude during the Bucharest-centred 1848 Wallachian revolution, and an Austrian garrison took possession after the Russian departure (remaining in the city until March 1857). Additionally, on March 23, 1847, a fire consumed about 2,000 buildings of Bucharest, destroying a third of the city. The social divide between rich and poor was described at the time by Ferdinand Lassalle as making the city "a savage hotchpotch".
In 1861, when Wallachia and Moldavia were united to form the Principality of Romania, Bucharest became the new nation's capital; in 1881, it became the political centre of the newly-proclaimed Kingdom of Romania. During the second half of the 19th century, due to its new status, the city's population increased dramatically, and a new period of urban development began. The extravagant architecture and cosmopolitan high culture of this period won Bucharest the nickname of "The Paris of the East" (or "Little Paris", Micul Paris), with Calea Victoriei as its Champs-Élysées or Fifth Avenue.
Between December 6, 1916 and November 1918, it was occupied by German forces, the legitimate capital being moved to Iași. After World War I, Bucharest became the capital of Greater Romania. In January 1941 it was the place of Legionnaires' rebellion and Bucharest pogrom. As the capital of an Axis country, Bucharest suffered heavy losses during World War II, due to Allied bombings, and, on August 23, 1944, saw the royal coup which brought Romania into the anti-German camp, suffering a short but destructive period of Luftwaffe bombings in reprisal.
During Nicolae Ceaușescu's leadership (1965–1989), most of the historic part of the city was destroyed and replaced with Communist-style buildings, particularly high-rise apartment buildings. The best example of this is the development called Centrul Civic (the Civic Centre), including the Palace of the Parliament, where an entire historic quarter was razed to make way for Ceaușescu's megalomaniac constructions. In 1977, a strong 7.4 on the Richter-scale earthquake claimed 1,500 lives and destroyed many old buildings. Nevertheless, some historic neighbourhoods did survive to this day.
The Romanian Revolution of 1989 began with mass anti-Ceaușescu protests in Timișoara in December 1989 and continued in Bucharest, leading to the overthrow of the Communist regime. Dissatisfied with the post-revolutionary leadership of the National Salvation Front, student leagues and opposition groups organized large-scale protests continued in 1990 (the Golaniad), which were violently stopped by the miners of Valea Jiului (the Mineriad). Several other Mineriads followed, the results of which included a government change.
After the year 2000, due to the advent of significant economic growth in Romania, the city has modernised and is currently undergoing a period of urban renewal. Various residential and commercial developments are underway, particularly in the northern districts, while Bucharest's historic centre is currently undergoing restoration.
Bucharest is situated on the banks of the Dâmboviţa River, which flows into the Argeș River, a tributary of the Danube. Several lakes – the most important of which are Lake Herăstrău, Lake Floreasca, Lake Tei, and Lake Colentina – stretch across the city, along the Colentina River, a tributary of the Dâmboviţa. In addition, in the centre of the capital there is a small artificial lake – Lake Cișmigiu – surrounded by the Cișmigiu Gardens. The Cișmigiu Gardens have a rich history, being frequented by famous poets and writers. Opened in 1847 and based on the plans of German architect Carl F.W. Meyer, the gardens are currently the main recreational facility in the city centre.
Besides Cișmigiu, Bucharest contains several other large parks and gardens, including Herăstrău Park and the Botanical Garden. Herăstrău is a large public park located in the north of the city, around Lake Herăstrău, and the site of the Village Museum, while the Bucharest's botanical garden is the largest in Romania and contains over 10,000 species of plants, many of them exotic; it was once a pleasure park for the royal family.
Bucharest is situated in the south eastern corner of the Romanian Plain, in an area once covered by the Vlăsiei forest, which, after it was cleared, gave way to a fertile flatland. As with many cities, Bucharest is traditionally considered to have seven hills, in the tradition of the seven hills of Rome. Bucharest's seven hills are: Mihai Vodă, Dealul Mitropoliei, Radu Vodă, Cotroceni, Spirei, Văcărești and Sf. Gheorghe Nou.
The city has a total area of 226 square kilometres (87 sq mi). The altitude varies from 55.8 metres (183.1 ft) at the Dâmboviţa bridge in Căţelu, south-eastern Bucharest and 91.5 m (300.2 ft) at the Militari church. The city has a relatively round shape, with the centre situated approximately in the cross-way of the main north-south/east-west axes at the University Square. The milestone for Romanian's Kilometre Zero is placed just south of University Square in front of the New St. George Church (Sfântul Gheorghe Nou) at St. George Square (Piaţa Sfântul Gheorghe). Bucharest's radius, from University Square to the city limits in all directions, varies from about 10 to 12 km (6.25–7.5 mi).
Until recently, the regions surrounding Bucharest were largely rural, but after 1989, new suburbs started to be built around Bucharest, in the surrounding Ilfov county. Further urban consolidation is expected to take place when the Bucharest metropolitan area is formed in 2006, which will incorporate various communes and cities of Ilfov and surrounding counties.
Bucharest has a temperate continental climate ( (Koppen climate classification Dfa). Due to its position on the Romanian Plain, the city's winters can get windy, even though some of the winds are mitigated due to urbanisation. Winter temperatures often dip below 0 °C (32 °F), even though they sometimes drop below −15 °C (5 °F) and rarely -20 C. In summer, the average temperature is approximately 23 °C (73 °F) (the average for July and August), despite the fact that temperatures many times reach 35 °C (95 °F) to 40 °C (104 °F) in mid-summer in the city centre. Although average precipitation and humidity during summer is low, there are infrequent yet heavy and often violent storms. During spring and autumn, average daytime temperatures vary between 17 °C (63 °F) to 22 °C (72 °F), and precipitation during this time tends to be higher than in summer, with more frequent yet milder periods of rain.
|Average high °C (°F)||1.5
|Average low °C (°F)||-5.5
|Precipitation mm (inches)||40
|Avg. precipitation days||6||6||6||7||6||6||7||6||5||5||6||6||72|
|Source: World Meteorological Organisation  February 2010|
Bucharest has a unique status in Romanian administration, since it is the only municipality that is not part of a county. Its population, however, is larger than that of any Romanian county, and hence the power of the Bucharest General City Hall (Primăria Generală), which is the city's local government body, is about the same as, if not greater than, that of Romanian county councils.
The city government is headed by a General Mayor (Primar General), currently (as of 2010) Sorin Oprescu. Decisions are approved and discussed by the General Council (Consiliu General) made up of 55 elected councillors. Furthermore, the city is divided into six administrative sectors (sectoare), each of which has their own 27-seat sectorial council, town hall and mayor. The powers of local government over a certain area are therefore shared by the Bucharest City Hall and the local sectorial councils with little or no overlapping of authority. The general rule is that the main City Hall is responsible for citywide utilities such as the water system, the transport system and the main boulevards, while sectorial town halls manage the contact between individuals and the local government, secondary streets, parks, schools and cleaning services.
The six sectors are numbered from one to six and are disposed radially so that each one has under its administration an area of the city centre. They are numbered clockwise and are further divided into districts without any form of administration (cartiere):
Like all other local councils in Romania, the Bucharest sectorial councils, the city's General Council and the mayors are elected every four years by the population. Additionally, Bucharest has a prefect, who is appointed by Romania's central government. The prefect is not allowed to be a member of a political party. The prefect's role is to represent the national government at local level, acting as a liaison and facilitating the implementation of National Development Plans and governing programmes at local level. The current prefect of Bucharest (as of 2010) is Mihai Cristian Atanasoaiei.
The Municipality of Bucharest, along with the surrounding Ilfov county, forms the Bucharest development region, which is equivalent to NUTS-II regions in the European Union and is used by the European Union and the Romanian Government for statistical analysis and regional development. The Bucharest development region is not, however, an administrative entity.
Bucharest's judicial system is similar to that of the Romanian counties. Each of the six sectors has their own local first instance court (judecătorie), while appeals from these courts' verdicts, and more serious cases, are directed to the Bucharest Tribunal, the city's municipal court. The Bucharest Court of Appeal judges appeals against decisions taken by tribunals in Bucharest and in five surrounding counties (Teleorman, Ialomiţa, Giurgiu, Călăraşi and Ilfov). Bucharest is also home to Romania's supreme court, the High Court of Cassation and Justice, as well as to the Constitutional Court of Romania.
Bucharest has its own municipal police force, the Bucharest Police (Poliţia Bucureşti), which is responsible for policing of crime within the whole city, and operates a number of special divisions. The Bucharest Police are headquartered on Ştefan cel Mare Blvd in the city centre, and has a number of precincts throughout the city. From 2004 onwards, each sector City Hall also has under its administration a Community Police force (Poliţia Comunitară), dealing with local community issues. Bucharest also houses the General Inspectorates of the Gendarmerie and the National Police.
Bucharest's crime rate is rather low in comparison to other Eastern European capital cities, with the number of total offences declining by 51% between 2000 and 2004. In particular, levels of violent crime remain very low, with 24 murders and 1069 other violent offences taking place in 2004. Although there have been a number of recent police crackdowns on organised crime gangs, such as the Cămătaru clan, organised crime generally has little impact on public life. Petty crime, however, is more common, particularly in the form of pickpocketing, which occurs mainly on the city's public transport network. Confidence tricks were sometimes common in the 1990s, especially in regards to tourists, but the frequency of these tricks has declined in recent years. Levels of crime are higher in the southern districts of the city, particularly in Ferentari, a socially-disadvantaged area.
Although the presence of street children was a problem in Bucharest in the 1990s, their numbers have declined significantly in recent years, currently lying at or below the average of major European capital cities. The same is true for beggars and homeless people, many of them from the Roma minority. However, there are still an estimated 1,000 street children in the city, many of whom engage in petty crime and begging. There has been speculation that the street children are recruited by professional underground networks for criminal purposes. From 2000 onwards, Bucharest has seen an increase in illegal road races which occur mainly at night in the city's outskirts or on industrial sites.
A significant problem in the city remains institutional corruption, which is seen as the most important justice-and-law related problem in the city.
When Centrul Civic was built, approximately 40,000 families and 3,000 pet dogs were dispossessed of their homes. Most of these dogs became strays, and rapid breeding led to a population of over 250,000 stray dogs by 2001. Mayor Traian Băsescu had initially planned to euthanize as many stray dogs as possible, but international outcry — led by actress Brigitte Bardot — resulted in the substitution of a spay-and-release program instead.
|December 29, 1930 census||▲ 633,355|
|January 25, 1948 census||▲ 1,025,180|
|February 21, 1956 census||▲ 1,177,661|
|March 15, 1966 census||▲ 1,366,684|
|January 5, 1977 census||▲ 1,807,239|
|July 1, 1990 estimate||▲ 2,127,194|
|January 7, 1992 census||▼ 2,067,545|
|March 18, 2002 census||▼ 1,926,334|
|July 1, 2005 estimate||▼ 1,924,959|
|July 1, 2007 estimate||▲ 1,931,838|
|January 1, 2009 estimate||▲ 1,944,367|
The city's population, according to the 2002 census, is 1,926,334 inhabitants, or 8.9% of the total population of Romania. Additionally, due to the recent process of gentrification there are now more than 200,000 people commuting to the city every day, mainly from the surrounding Ilfov county.
Bucharest's population experienced two phases of rapid growth, the first in the late 19th century, when the city grew in importance and size, and the second during the Communist period, when a massive urbanisation campaign was launched and many people migrated from rural areas to the capital. At this time, due to Ceauşescu's ban on abortion and contraception, natural increase was also significant.
Approximately 96.9% of the population of Bucharest are Romanians. The second largest ethnic group being are Roma (Gypsies), which make up 1.4% of the population. Other significant ethnic groups are Hungarians (0.3%), Jews (0.1%), Turks (0,1%), Chinese (0,1) and Germans (0,1%). A rellatively small number of Bucharesters are of Greek, North American, French, Armenian, Lipovan and Italian descent. The Greeks and the Armenians used to play significant roles in the life of the city at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century. One of the predominantly Greek neighbourhoods was Vitan - where a Jewish population also lived; the latter was more present in Văcăreşti and areas around Unirii Square.
In terms of religion, 96.1% of the population are Romanian Orthodox, 1.2% are Roman Catholic, 0.5% are Muslim and 0.4% are Eastern Rite-Catholic. Despite this, only 24% of the population, of any religion, attend a place of worship once a week or more. The life expectancy of residents of Bucharest in 2003–2005 was 74.14 years, around 2 years higher than the Romanian average. Female life expectancy was 77.41 years, in comparison to 70.57 years for males.
Bucharest is the centre of the Romanian economy and industry, accounting for around 14.6% of the country's GDP and about one-quarter of its industrial production, while being inhabited by only 9% of the country's population. Almost one third of national taxes is paid by Bucharest's citizens and companies. In 2006, at purchasing power parity, Bucharest had a per-capita GDP of €19,800, or 83.8% that of the European Union average and more than twice the Romanian average. The city's strong economic growth has revitalised infrastructure and led to the development of many shopping malls and modern residential towers and high-rise office buildings. In September 2005, Bucharest had an unemployment rate of 2.6%, significantly lower than the national unemployment rate of 5.7%.
Bucharest's economy is mainly centred on industry and services, with services particularly growing in importance in the last ten years. The headquarters of 186,000 firms, including nearly all large Romanian companies are located in Bucharest. An important source of growth since 2000 has been the city's rapidly expanding property and construction sector. Bucharest is also Romania's largest centre for information technology and communications and is home to several software companies operating offshore delivery centres. Romania's largest stock exchange, the Bucharest Stock Exchange, which was merged in December 2005 with the Bucharest-based electronic stock exchange Rasdaq plays a major role in the city's economy.
There are a number of major international supermarket chains such as Carrefour, Cora and METRO. At the moment, the city is undergoing a retail boom, with a large number of supermarkets, and hypermarkets, constructed every year. For more information, see supermarkets in Romania. A few of the largest and most modern shopping centres in Bucharest are Bucharest Mall, Plaza Romania, City Mall, Jolie Ville Galleria, Liberty Center and Unirea Shopping Center. There are also a large number of traditional retail arcades and markets; the one at Obor covers about a dozen city blocks and numerous large stores that are not officially part of the market effectively add up to a market district almost twice that size.
Bucharest's extensive public transport system is the largest in Romania and one of the largest in Europe. It is made up of the Bucharest Metro, as well as a surface transport system run by RATB (Regia Autonomă de Transport Bucureşti), which consists of buses, trams, trolleybuses, and light rail. In addition, there is a private minibus system. As of 2007, there is a limit of 10,000 taxicab licences, down from 25,000 in the 1990s, and the even higher demand is supplied by taxis registered in Ilfov county.
The city is served by two airports: Henri Coandă International Airport (formerly Otopeni) and Aurel Vlaicu International Airport (formerly Băneasa). Henri Coandă is the largest airport in Romania with 5 million passengers in 2007 and the main hub for the national operator TAROM. Delta Air Lines serves Bucharest directly from JFK. It is also connected to several international airports by a wide range of international airlines. The smaller Aurel Vlaicu International Airport is used for charter flights and low-cost carriers.
Bucharest is the hub of Romania's national railway network, run by Căile Ferate Române. The main railway station is Gara de Nord, or North Station, which provides connections to all major cities in Romania as well as international destinations such as Belgrade, Budapest, Sofia, Vienna, Prague, Moscow, Istanbul, Chişinău, and many other European cities. The city also has five other railway stations run by CFR, most important are Basarab (in proximity of North Station), Obor, Baneasa, Progresu, which are in the process of being integrated in a commuter railway serving Bucharest and the surrounding Ilfov county. 7 main lines radiate out of Bucharest.
The city's municipal road network is centred around a series of high-capacity boulevards, which generally radiate out from the city centre to the outskirts. The main axes, which run north-south, east-west and northwest-southeast, as well as one internal and one external ring road, support the bulk of the traffic. The city's roads are usually very crowded during rush hours, due to an increase in car ownership in recent years. Every day, there are more than one million vehicles travelling within the city. This results in occasional wear and potholes appearing on busy roads, particularly secondary roads, this being identified as one of Bucharest's main infrastructural problems. In recent years, there has been a comprehensive effort on behalf of the City Hall to boost road infrastructure and according to the general development plan, 2,000 roads have been repaired by 2008.
Bucharest is also a major intersection of Romania's national road network. A few of the busiest national roads and motorways, link the city to all of Romania's major cities as well as to neighbouring countries such as Hungary, Bulgaria and Ukraine. The A1 to Pitesti and the A2 Sun Motorway to the Dobrogea region and Constanta both start from Bucharest. The A3 and A5 motorways radiate from Voluntari, a town in the city's northern outskirts.
Although it is situated on the banks of a river, Bucharest has never functioned as a port city, with other Romanian cities such as Constanţa and Galati acting as the country's main ports. However, the Danube-Bucharest Canal, which is 73 km (45 mi) long, is currently in construction and is around 60% completed. When finished, the canal will link Bucharest to the Danube River and, via the Danube-Black Sea Canal, to the Black Sea. This corridor is expected to be a significant component of the city's transport infrastructure and increase sea traffic by a large margin.
Bucharest has a diverse and growing cultural scene, with cultural life exhibited in a number of various fields, including the visual arts, performing arts and nightlife. Unlike other parts of Romania, such as the Black Sea coast or Transylvania, Bucharest's cultural scene is much more eclectic, without a defined style, and instead incorporates various elements of Romanian and international culture. Bucharest has an eclectic mixture of elements from traditionally Romanian buildings to buildings that are influenced by French architects. It is because of this French influence that Bucharest was once called "the Paris of the East" or "Little Paris."
Bucharest has a large number of landmark buildings and monuments. Perhaps the most prominent of these is the Palace of the Parliament, built in the 1980s during the reign of Communist dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu. Currently the largest building in Europe and the second-largest in the world, the Palace houses the Romanian Parliament (the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate), as well as the National Museum of Contemporary Art. The building also boasts one of the largest convention centres in the world.
Another well-known landmark in Bucharest is Arcul de Triumf (The Triumphal Arch), it was built in its current form in 1935 and modeled after the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. A newer landmark of the city is the Memorial of Rebirth, a stylized marble pillar unveiled in 2005 to commemorate the victims of the Romanian Revolution of 1989, which overthrew Communism. The abstract monument sparked a great deal of controversy when it was unveiled, being dubbed with names such as "the olive in the toothpick", ("măslina-n scobitoare"), as many argued that it does not fit in its surroundings and believed that its choice was based on political reasons.
Other cultural venues include the National Museum of Art of Romania, Museum of Natural History "Grigore Antipa", Museum of the Romanian Peasant (Muzeul Ţăranului Român), National History Museum, and the Military Museum.
In terms of visual arts, the city contains a number of museums featuring both classical and contemporary Romanian art, as well as selected international works. The National Museum of Art of Romania is perhaps the best-known of Bucharest museums. It is located in the former royal palace and features extensive collections of medieval and modern Romanian art, including works by renowned sculptor Constantin Brâncuşi, as well as a prominent international collection assembled by the former Romanian royal family.
Other, smaller museums, contain more specialised collections of works. The Zambaccian Museum, which is situated in the former home of Armenian-Romanian art collector Krikor H. Zambaccian contains works by many well-known Romanian artists as well as international artists such as Paul Cézanne, Eugène Delacroix, Henri Matisse, Camille Pissarro and Pablo Picasso.
The Gheorghe Tattarescu Museum contains portraits of Romanian revolutionaries in exile such as Gheorghe Magheru, Ştefan Golescu, Nicolae Bălcescu and allegorical compositions with revolutionary (Romania's rebirth, 1849) and patriotic (The Principalities' Unification, 1857) themes. The Theodor Pallady Museum is situated in one of the oldest surviving merchant houses in Bucharest and includes many works by Romanian painter Theodor Pallady as well as a number of European and Oriental furniture pieces. The Museum of Art Collections contains the collections of a number of well-known Romanian art aficionados, including Krikor Zambaccian and Theodor Pallady.
Despite the extensive classical art galleries and museums in the city, there is also a contemporary arts scene that has become increasingly prominent in recent times. The National Museum of Contemporary Art (MNAC), situated in a wing of the Palace of the Parliament, was opened in 2004 and contains a widespread collection of Romanian and international contemporary art, in a number of expressive forms. The MNAC also manages the Kalinderu MediaLab, which caters specifically to multimedia and experimental art. There is also a range of smaller, private art galleries throughout the city centre.
The palace of the National Bank of Romania houses the national numismatic collection. Exhibits include banknotes, coins, documents, photographs, maps, silver and gold bullion bars, bullion coins, dies and moulds. The building itself was constructed between 1884 and 1890. The thesaurus room contains notable marble decorations.
Performing arts are one of the strongest cultural elements of Bucharest, and the city has a number of world-renowned facilities and institutions. The most famous symphony orchestra is National Radio Orchestra of Romania. One of the most prominent buildings is the neoclassical Romanian Athenaeum, which was founded in 1852, and hosts classical music concerts, the George Enescu Festival, and is home to the "George Enescu" Philharmonic. Bucharest is also home to the Romanian National Opera, as well as the I.L. Caragiale National Theatre. Another well-known theatre in Bucharest is the State Jewish Theatre, which has gained increasing prominence in recent years due partly to the fact that it features plays starring world-renowned Romanian-Jewish actress Maia Morgenstern. There is also a large number of smaller theatres throughout the city that cater to specific genres, such as the Comedy Theatre, the Nottara Theatre, the Bulandra Theatre, the Odeon Theatre, and the Constantin Tănase Revue Theatre.
Bucharest is home to Romania's largest recording labels, and is often the residence of Romanian musicians. The city's music scene is eclectic. Many Romanian rock bands of the 1970s and 1980s, such as Iris and Holograf, continue to be popular, particularly with the middle-aged, while since the beginning of the 1990s the hip hop/rap scene has developed a unique sound and style indigenous to eastern Bucharest. Hip-hop bands and artists from Bucharest such as B.U.G. Mafia, Paraziţii, Verdikt, La familia, Bitză and Zale enjoy national and international recognition.
The eclectic pop-rock band Taxi have been gaining international respect, as has Spitalul de Urgenţă's raucous updating of traditional Romanian music. While many neighbourhood discos play manele, an Oriental- and Roma-influenced genre of music that is particularly popular in Bucharest's working class districts, the city has a rich jazz and blues scene, and, to an even larger extent, house music/trance and heavy metal/punk scenes. Bucharest's jazz profile has especially risen since 2002, with the presence of two thriving venues, Green Hours and Art Jazz, as well as an American presence alongside established Romanians. The city's nightlife, particularly its club scene grew significantly in the 1990s, and continues to develop.
There is no central nightlife strip, with many entertainment venues dispersed throughout the city centre, with a cluster in the historical centre. Among the most visited venues are Lăptăria Enache and La Motoare, located on the rooftop of the National Theatre, as well as El Grande Comandante and Club A. Most clubs and bars are located around the centre of the city, from the Piaţa Unirii to Piaţa Romană. Also, a large concentration of rock clubs can be found in the Lipscani area, the old part of the city, in the vicinity of Piaţa Unirii. The Regie area, located near Polytechnic University campus, hosts a number of clubs and bars, mainly targeted toward the student population.
The city also hosts some of the best electronic music clubs in Europe such as Studio Martin and Kristal Glam Club. During the summer, Zoom Beach Club is an outdoor club on the shore of a lake and has two separate dance floors. The Office is one of the most exclusive clubs in Bucharest and has a long tradition in clubbing. One of the best cocktail clubs in Bucharest is Deja Vu situated on Bălcescu Boulevard near the Italian church. Some other notable venues are: Gaia, Fratelli, Glamour, Tipsy, Cotton Club, Pat, and Bamboo.
Bucharest's cultural life has, especially since the early 1990s, become colourful and worldly. Traditional Romanian culture, however, continues to have a major influence in arts such as theatre, film and music. Additionally, Bucharest has two internationally-renowned ethnographic museums, the Museum of the Romanian Peasant and the open-air Village Museum. The Village Museum, in Herăstrău Park, contains 272 authentic buildings and peasant farms from all over Romania. The Museum of the Romanian Peasant was declared the European Museum of the Year in 1996, and displays a rich collection of textiles (especially costumes), icons, ceramics, and other artifacts of Romanian peasant life.
The Museum of Romanian History is another important museum in Bucharest, containing a collection of artefacts detailing Romanian history and culture from the prehistoric times, Dacian era, medieval times and the modern era.
There are a number of cultural festivals in Bucharest throughout the year, in various domains, even though most festivals take place in the summer months of June, July and August. The National Opera organises the International Opera Festival every year in May and June, which includes ensembles and orchestras from all over the world. The Romanian Athaeneum Society hosts the George Enescu Festival at various locations throughout the city in September every year. Additionally, the Museum of the Romanian Peasant and the Village Museum organise a number of events throughout the year showcasing Romanian folk arts and crafts.
In the 2000s, due to the growing prominence of the Chinese community in Bucharest, several Chinese cultural events have taken place. The first officially-organised Chinese festival was the Chinese New Year's Eve Festival of February 2005 which took place in Nichita Stănescu Park and was organised by the Bucharest City Hall. In 2005, Bucharest was the first city in Southeastern Europe to host the international CowParade, which resulted in dozens of decorated cow sculptures being placed at various points across the city.
The 2000s also saw an increasing visibility of Bucharest gay culture, with the opening of the Queen's Club, the first LGBT club in the city, in 2001, and the launch of the annual Bucharest GayFest in 2004. The city's first gay pride parade was held as part of the 2005 GayFest.
Bucharest is the seat of the Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church, one of the Eastern Orthodox churches in communion with the Patriarch of Constantinople, and also of its subdivisons, the Metropolis of Muntenia and Dobrudja and the Archbishopric of Bucharest. Orthodox believers believe that Saint Demetrios is the saint patron of the city.
Bucharest is also a center for various other religions and cults in Romania, including the main Romanian-ethnic Catholic organization, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Bucharest.
Bucharest's architecture is highly eclectic due to the many influences on the city throughout its history. The city centre is a mixture of medieval, neoclassical and art nouveau buildings, as well as 'neo-Romanian' buildings dating from the beginning of the 20th century and a remarkable collection of modern buildings from the 20s and 30s. The mostly-utilitarian Communist-era architecture dominates most southern boroughs. Recently built contemporary structures such as skyscrapers and office buildings complete the landscape.
Of the city's medieval architecture, most of what survived into modern times was destroyed by Communist systematization, numerous fires and military incursions. Still, some medieval and renaissance edifices remain, the most notable are in the Lipscani area. This precinct contains notable buildings such as Manuc's Inn and the ruins of the Curtea Veche (the Old Court), during the late Middle Ages this area was the heart of commerce in Bucharest. From the 1970s onwards, the area went through urban decline, and many historical buildings fell into disrepair. In 2005, the Lipscani area was entirely pedestrianised and is currently slowly undergoing restoration.
The city centre has also retained architecture from the late 19th century and early 20th century, particularly the interwar period, which is often seen as the "golden age" of Bucharest architecture. During this time, the city grew significantly in size and wealth therefore seaking to emulate other large European capitals such as Paris. Much of the architecture of the time belongs to a remarkably strong Modern (rationalist) Architecture current, led by Horia Creanga and Marcel Iancu, which managed to literally change the face of the city.
Two notable buildings from this time are the Creţulescu Palace, currently housing cultural institutions including UNESCO's European Centre for Higher Education, and the Cotroceni Palace, the current residence of the Romanian President. Many large-scale constructions such as Gara de Nord, the busiest railway station in the city, National Bank of Romania's headquarters and the Telephone Palace date from these times. In the 2000s, a wide variety of historic buildings in the city centre underwent restoration. In some residential areas of the city, particularly the high-income northern suburbs, there are many turn-of-the-century villas, most of which were restored in the late 1990s.
A major part of Bucharest's architecture is made up of buildings constructed during the Communist era replacing the historical architecture with "more efficient" high density apartment blocks - significant portions of the historic center of Bucharest were demolished in order to construct one of the largest buildings in the world: Casa Poporului - Palace of the Parliament. In Nicolae Ceauşescu's project of systematization many new buildings were built in previously-historical areas, which were razed and then built upon from scratch.
One of the best examples of this type of architecture is Centrul Civic, a development that replaced a major part of Bucharest's historic city centre with giant utilitarian buildings, mainly with marble or travertine façades, inspired by North Korean architecture. Communist-era architecture can also be found in Bucharest's residential districts, mainly in blocuri, which are high-density apartment blocks that house the majority of the city's population.
Since the fall of Communism in 1989, several Communist-era buildings have been refurbished, modernised and used for other purposes. Perhaps the best example of this is the conversion of several obsolete retail complexes into shopping malls and commercial centres. These giant circular halls, which were unofficially called hunger circuses due to the food shortages experienced in the 1980s, were constructed during the Ceauşescu era to act as produce markets and refectories, although most were left unfinished at the time of the Revolution.
Modern shopping malls like Bucharest Mall, Plaza Romania and City Mall emerged on pre-existent structures of former hunger circuses. Another example is the modernisation and conversion of a large utilitarian construction in Centrul Civic into a Marriott Hotel. This process was accelerated after 2000, when the city underwent a property boom, and many Communist-era buildings in the city centre became prime real estate due to their location. In recent years, many Communist-era apartment blocks have also been refurbished to improve urban appearance.
The newest contribution to Bucharest's architecture took place after the fall of Communism, particularly after 2000, when the city went through a period of urban renewal – and architectural revitalization – on the back of Romania's rapid economic growth. Buildings from this time are mostly made of glass and steel, and often have more than ten storeys. Examples include shopping malls (particularly the Bucharest Mall, a conversion and extension of an abandoned building), office buildings, bank headquarters, the Bucharest World Trade Center and the Chamber of Commerce, which lies on the banks of the Dâmboviţa.
As of 2005, there is a significant number of office buildings in construction, particularly in the northern and eastern parts of the city. Additionally, there has been a trend in recent years to add modern wings and façades to historic buildings, the most prominent example of which is the Bucharest Architects' Association Building, which is a modern glass-and-steel construction built inside a historic stone façade.
Aside from buildings used for business and institutions, various new residential developments are currently underway, many of which consist of high-rise buildings with a glass exterior, surrounded by American-style residential communities. These developments are increasingly prominent in the northern suburbs of the city, which are less densely-populated and are home to a significant number of middle- and upper-class Bucharesters due to the process of gentrification.
Bucharest is the most important centre of the Romanian media, since it is the headquarters of all the national television networks as well as national newspapers and radio stations. The largest daily newspapers in Bucharest include Evenimentul Zilei, Jurnalul Naţional, Cotidianul, România Liberă, Adevărul, Gardianul and Gândul. During the rush hours, tabloid newspapers Click!, Libertatea and Ziarul are very popular for commuters.
A significant number of newspapers and media publications are based in Casa Presei Libere (The House of the Free Press), a landmark of northern Bucharest, originally named Casa Scânteii after the Communist-era official newspaper Scînteia. Casa Presei Libere is not the only Bucharest landmark that grew out of the media and communications industry. Palatul Telefoanelor ("The Telephone Palace") was the first major modernist building on Calea Victoriei in the city's centre, and the massive, unfinished communist-era Casa Radio looms over a park a block away from the Opera.
English-language newspapers first became available in the early 1930s and reappeared in 1990s, becoming increasingly prominent since then. There are two daily English-language newspapers, Bucharest Daily News and Nine O' Clock, as well as numerous other magazines. A number of publications in other languages are also available, such as the Hungarian-language daily Új Magyar Szó.
Observator Cultural covers the city's arts, and the free weekly magazines Şapte Seri ("Seven Evenings") and B24FUN list entertainment events of all sorts. The city is also home to the intellectual journal Dilema and the satire magazine Academia Caţavencu, as well as the usual array of commercial magazines one would find in any European capital.
Bucharest was the host city of the fourth edition of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2006.
There are 16 public universities in Bucharest, the largest of which are the University of Bucharest, the Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies, the Carol Davila University of Medicine and Pharmacy, and the Politehnica University of Bucharest. These are supplemented by 19 private universities, such as the Romanian-American University and the Spiru Haret University. Overall, there are 159 faculties in 34 universities. Private universities have a mixed reputation due to irregularities in the educational process as well as perceived corruption. As in the rest of Romania, universities in Bucharest are regarded as inferior to their Western counterparts. However, in recent years the city has seen an increasing influx of foreign students who come to study here, primarily from Asia.
The first modern educational institution was the Princely Academy of Bucharest, founded in 1694 and divided in 1864 to form the present-day University of Bucharest and the Saint Sava National College, both of which are amongst the most prestigious of their kind in Romania.
There are around 450 public primary and secondary schools in the city, all of which are administered by the Bucharest Municipal Schooling Inspectorate. Each sector also has its own Schooling Inspectorate, subordinated to the Municipal one.
Football (soccer) is the most widely-followed sport in Bucharest, with the city having various club teams that are known throughout Europe. Three Bucharest-based football teams participate in Liga 1 (League 1), formerly Divizia A, the top division in the Romanian football league: Rapid, Steaua and Dinamo.
The Lia Manoliu Stadium was the largest stadium in Romania. It has now been demolished to make way for a new stadium, which will host the 2012 Europa League Final. Other large sport centres include Dinamo Sports Park, Ghencea Stadium and the National Sports Center.
There are also a number of sport clubs for ice hockey, rugby union, basketball, handball, water polo and volleyball. The majority of Romanian track and field athletes, boxers, and a great number of gymnasts are affiliated with clubs in Bucharest. The Athletics and many Gymnastics National Championships are held in Bucharest, one main reason being the city's extensive sporting infrastructure.
Every autumn, Bucharest hosts BCR Open Romania international tennis tournament, which is included in the ATP Tour. Also, the Romanian Davis Cup Team usually plays its matches in Bucharest, either outdoors at the BNR Arena or indoors at the Sala Polivalentă. Ice hockey games are held at the Mihai Flamaropol hall, which holds 8,000 spectators.
Starting in 2007 Bucharest has hosted annual races along a temporary urban track surrounding the Palace of the Parliament, called Bucharest Ring. The competition is called the Bucharest City Challenge, and has hosted FIA GT, FIA GT3, British F3, and Logan Cup races in 2007 and 2008. The 2009 edition has not been held in Bucharest due to a conflict with the city hall, and took place on the Hungaroring circuit in Hungary instead.
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Quotations on the city of Bucharest, the capital city of Romania (1862 - present):
Bucharest is Romania's capital and largest city, as well as the most important industrial and commercial center of the country. With 2 million inhabitants in the city proper and more than 2.4 million in the urban area. Bucharest is the second largest city in South Eastern Europe behind Athens.
Bucharest is the primary entry point into Romania. It typically elicits a wide spectrum of opinions on the part of tourists. Known in the past as "The Little Paris" Bucharest has changed a lot lately and today it has become a very interesting mix of old and new that has little to do with its initial reputation. Finding a 300 years old church near a steel-and-glass building that sit both next to a communist style building is common place in Bucharest. Perhaps "The Big Mix" would be a more appropriate name for the current Bucharest. Some adore it and enjoy its unique charm, while others feel uncomfortable around the gray Communist-era buildings and lack of western style tourist attractions. However, Bucharest offers some excellent attractions, and has, in recent years, cultivated a sophisticated, trendy, and modern sensibility that many have come to expect from a European capital. Bucharest has been undergoing major modernisation programmes in recent years and is still going to continue not if more projects in the years to come. Bucharest is experiencing an economic boom and will be experiencing this boom for many years to come.
The official language is Romanian, a Romance language which claims to be the closest currently-spoken relative to Ancient Latin, but contains around 20% of loan words from Slavonic languages. Most educated people born after about 2000 will speak reasonably good English and will likely be proficient in one or more second Romance languages; most educated people born before about 1970 will speak reasonably good French, Spanish or Italian. The Roma people (Gypsies) speak their native Romany, as well as Romanian, and sometimes English as well. Beyond that, as in any major city, there will be a smattering of other languages like chinesse, arabic, turkish, hungarian.
Bucharest has, like most of Romania, a temperate-continental climate with hot summers and cold winters. This region of Romania gets all four seasons, although spring is brief and falls mainly in April. The average high daily temperature in summer is about 29ºC/85ºF and in winter about 2ºC/35ºF. It can get really hot and dry during the summer (40ºC/105ºF) and really cold during the winter (-20ºC/-5ºF),even though temperatures below -12ºC/10ºF are extremely rare. Best time to visit is April through June, September through October and early December.
Bucharest is in the Eastern European time zone (UTC+2, with a DST of UTC+3 from April to October).
Bucharest has reasonable connections with most European capitals and with the largest cities in Romania, but it can be difficult to find a direct flight to Bucharest from outside of Europe or the Middle East. Discount air companies have been operating flights to Bucharest since 2004, but it was only in late 2006 - early 2007 that the number of such flights seriously began to grow, so at this point there are low-costs flights to to various destinations in Italy, Spain, Germany, France, the UK, Belgium, Hungary, Slovakia, Turkey and Austria.
Most flights, both international and domestic, land at the Henri Coandă International Airport , located in Otopeni, 18 km north of the city downtown. The airport, built in 1968, underwent a massive modernization effort since the late 90's and is set to be further enlarged. It is the main hub for the Romanian flag carrier Tarom  and is used by the major international airlines. All concessions inside the airport (shops, cafes, restaurants) are extremely expensive (everything is about twice more expensive than in the city). Avoid exchanging money in the airport, exchange rates are 20-25% worse than what you would find in the city - you are advised to use a credit card at an ATM in the lobby for immediate needs and exchange money downtown. There is a supermarket on the bottom floor (domestic departure) which is a reasonable place to get a snack and/or spend your last few Lei on departure.
The smaller Aurel Vlaicu International Airport  was used for commercial flights as early as the 1920s; its present building was finished in 1952 based on a 1930s design. It is located inside the city, in Băneasa, about 4-6 km to the city center and is used primarily by business, charter and low-cost airlines: BlueAir , WizzAir , Germanwings .
Note that this airport is amazingly small (only 3 gates), with outdated facilities and becomes extremely crowded especially during the charter season (June-September and December), being built to handle a tenth of the passengers it actually handles. The runway and taxiways have been thoroughly modernized in 2007, and a new terminal building is under construction. Free wi-fi is available (if you can find a place to sit and power-up your laptop, which is no small task). There is an ATM in the departures hall next to the Blueair check in but it's not always working. The exchange office has bad exchange rates. However, if you walk out of the airport and turn left (towards the city center) you will find several ATMs two blocks down the road. You can buy public transport tickets at a counter at the bus stop on the other side of the road that runs outside the airport.
There are bus connections between Bucharest and large cities in Europe (especially in Southern Europe) and also to many large and medium sized cities throughout Romania. Bucharest has several bus terminals: Băneasa (for northern bound routes), Obor (east), Filaret (south), Alexandriei (south-west), Militari (west), and Griviţa (north-west).
The timetables for domestic routes are available here: .
Bucharest is linked through direct daily trains to all neighboring countries’ capitals (Belgrade, Budapest, Chişinău, Kiev, Sofia), as well as to Wien, Venice, Thessaloniki, Istanbul, Moscow and of course to main cities in all of Romania’s 41 counties.
All international trains and most long distance internal trains arrive at Gara de Nord (Northern) station, located quite near of the city center, to which it is linked by subway and several buses, trolley, and tramway lines.
Some trains to and from the Black Sea Coast use either Gara de Est-Obor (Eastern) station, or Băneasa station,as well as the main Gara de Nord station;currently the rute between Bucharest and Constanţa,the main city in the black sea area is undergoing modernisation and you shoud expect long delays so if you can it's best to go by the Gara Obor station because it saves around an hour on your trip.
The other three smaller stations (Basarab, Progresul and Republica) are used exclusively for local and regional trains.
The timetables for domestic routes are available here: .
Watch out for the shady private taxi services and avoid taking taxis near the stations. Always look to see if the cab driver starts the meter and allert him by saying "aparatul" (ah-pah-RA-tool) while pointing at the meter. There will be drivers offering rides - be extremely wary.
The city’s entrances from the north (the E60 road coming from Braşov), west (the A1 highway from Piteşti), east (the A2 (Sun) highway from Constanţa), south (the E20 road from Giurgiu) and the avenues in the city center are very crowded, especially at rush hours. Inside the city there are few parking spaces and some of the secondary streets are in bad condition.
Bucharest has one of the most extensive systems of public transport in Europe, even though it can sometimes be confusing and crowded.
The metro, which has four lines (M1, M2, M3, M4) and covers the city quite extensively, is usually a cheap (2.2 lei for 2 trips, 8 lei for 10 trips and 23 lei for a monthly pass) and easy way to get around even though there are surprisingly few stops in the city center, since the system was originally built to transport workers and commuters from outlying neighborhoods through the city to peripheral industrial areas. If you're staying outside the city center, or even if you want to travel within it, the Metro can be a very fast and convenient way of traveling to your destination, avoiding the traffic jams and crowds that frequently characterize surface transport.
The network is arguably frequent and fairly comfortable, reliable and easy-to-use. Surprisingly for some, it is by far the safest way to travel through the city. Since 2002, Bucharest Metro has embarked on a comprehensive modernization plan, including the replacement of old train-sets with state-of-the-art Bombardier Transportation trains and the renovation of stations and tracks in collaboration with Alstom.
Line M1 starts in the eastern part of the city and then goes through the downtown on a circular route, passing by the main train station Gara de Nord and meeting up with the M2 line (which runs north-south) at Piaţa Unirii and Piaţa Victoriei stations. Line M3 links the western and eastern parts of the city. The central section on the M3 between Eroilor - Nicolae Grigorescu is shared with M1 and trains from both lines run in tandem having the terminus displayed at the front of the cab. Line M4 is a short shuttle line starting from Gara de Nord, planned to eventually link the city with its airports.
Maps of the subway can be found on the Metrorex official site .
Bucharest has a very complex network of buses, trams and trolleybuses which is, at first glance, fairly confusing to the tourist. This is not because of any inconsistencies within the network, but rather due to the intricate web of hundreds of bus, tram and trolleybus routes found in the city. Once you know your way around the network, however, public surface transport can be a very good way of getting around since there is a bus, tram or trolleybus stop virtually everywhere in this city. The vehicles are usually very frequent, although they can also get terribly crowded at peak hours.
Make sure you know the stop you're getting off at - even though in most trolleybuses and in some modern buses and trams, following stops are announced automatically and displayed on a screen inside the vehicle. However, these displays tend to be not very reliable, pointing to either a wrong stop or not working at all. In addition, the older buses (most commonly found outside the core center) do not have any displays or announcements. If you are uncertain if a stop is the one you want, you can always ask your fellow travelers.
The ticketing system uses contact-less smart-cards, called Activ cards . Once bought (you will need some ID to do that) the cards can be loaded with various ticketing options, including some that allow usage on both the subway and surface networks. To validate the card after entering a vehicle (or subway station) hold it still in front of the validating device (an orange box with a small LCD screen) until you hear a short beep. If you do not wish to buy a card, paper tickets valid for one ride on one route are also available (1.3 lei). Be warned that you cannot buy tickets/cards in the vehicles and if caught by an inspector (controlor) you could be fined with 50 lei. Some buses still use the old system of paper ticket, essentially a strip of paper that needs to be validated inside the bus. Be sure to validate your ticket, as enforcers can be very strict, even to visitors unfamiliar with the system.
You can check the 2004 surface transport map here:  (note: some routes / numbers have changed). A constantly updated site with detailed route information, schedule and interactive maps, with both English and Romanian interfaces can be found here: .
Car rental in the Pache Protopopescu Street or Europcar are all at the city and airport. Other local rentals also throughout the city. The average price for a day rental is about 20 EUROS for the cheapest car.
There are a lot of taxi companies in Bucharest and you'll easily find a cab here. But be aware! Don't take any independent cab drivers, but use only the services of big taxi companies. Cars from these companies have the rates displayed on the door. Each door used to contain an initial "sitting" fee (between 1.6 to 3 lei), a per km fee (1.4 to 3.6 lei) and per hour fee. However, taxis now display a single number which is both the initial "sitting fee" and the per km fee. The per hour fee is not listed, but should be around ten times the per km fee. Independent have significantly higher fees (up to ten times the average!) If a taxi does not display these prices on the door it is best not to take it and find another, as you'll probably be charged a rate five to ten times higher than usual. Also, it should be noted that some taxis now have a low "nighttime rate" listed in a large font with an expensive daytime rate listed in a small font. So, read carefully and remember that "noapte" means night. And you should insist the driver starts the meter, and pay the sum displayed on it. If you are traveling outside the city limits (say to or from the airport) prices per km and per hour are often doubled, or an extra 10-15 lei is added to the fare. Be wary of taking taxis from places where a lot of tourists pass through, especially from Gara de Nord. Many of these taxis may be operated by con men. Tourists being asked to pay large sums to recover their luggage from the trunk or even muggings after taxi rides are not unheard of.
There are also a number of smaller museums, housing private collections, notably the “D. Minovici" Western European Arts Museum located in a beautiful eclectic villa (strada N. Minovici, nr.3) and numerous memorial houses dedicated to various literary, scientifical and political personalities.
There are two free weekly guides published in Bucharest featuring all the events of the week, as well as listing the addresses of most restaurants, clubs, pubs, bars, cinemas etc. in the city. One is Şapte Seri (Seven Nights), the other 24-FUN. They have small sections in English available.
- Cişmigiu Garden is a lovable small park, the oldest in the city (designed 1845-1860), located in its very center. Has boat rental in summer, ice skating in winter time, a reasonable restaurant and several bars.
- Herăstrău Park (the largest of several parks around man-made lakes on the Colentina River running through the city’s north and east side) houses the Village Museum, an open-air theater, various sports grounds, something like an amusement park and numerous restaurants and clubs. Has boat rental and boat-trips in summer.
- The Botanical Garden, established in 1884 near Cotroceni Palace, displays a variety of plants from all over the world, including an indoor tropical plants exhibition. Small entry fee.
- Carol Park (designed in 1906), a quiet oasis not so far from Piata Unirii, has an open-air theater replicating a Roman arena and another construction replicating a medieval fortress. It houses the tomb of the Unknown Soldier as well as an infamous mausoleum built for the Communist nomenclature.
- Tineretului Park, just one subway station south of Piaţa Unirii, has a large multipurpose building (Sala Polivalenta) used for various concerts, sporting events, exhibitions etc., an amusement park for children, boat-rental, several restaurants and bars.
- Titan Park (also known as IOR Park), a green oasis amongst Communist era high rise apartment buildings in the eastern part of the city (Titan subway station), has a charming wooden church as well as several lake-side clubs.
Major brand-name shops and upscale boutiques are concentrated along the main boulevard from Piaţa Romană to Piaţa Unirii and on the small streets adjacent to this boulevard, but also on Calea Victoriei, on Calea Dorobanţilor (the part between Blvd. Iancu de Hunedoara and Piaţa Dorobanţilor) or on Calea Moşilor's section between Blvd. Carol I and Piaţa Obor.
In the past years numerous modern shopping centers have sprung up in the city (and even more are in construction), the best known being:
More shopping jalls in Bucharest and its surrounding area are being currently constructed or in the planning stages of being constructed
Book stores with a good supply of English language books are difficult to find in Bucharest but there are a few places mainly situated in the center.
Also, the biggest chain of libraries in Romania called "Diverta" has in every location a department with English/German/French books.
Buses are safe, but use your common sense, and put your things in internal pockets, just to be 100% sure. Taking taxis from areas frequented by foreign tourists may also pose a threat as some of these taxis may be operated by con men waiting for an unsuspecting victim. This is especially true for taxis around Gara de Nord where their associates actively try to lure you into such cars. Tactics range anywhere between overcharging you to taking you to an ATM and having armed associated forcing you to withdraw large sums of money. If possible, avoid taking cabs from Gara de Nord unless you are familiar with the taxi operators there.
As strange as it sounds, you'll see that Bucharest is a far safer city than its western European counterparts. Statistically Bucharest is one of the safest capitals in Europe, far safer than cities like Berlin, London, Rome, etc.
Bucharest has perhaps the largest population of stray dogs for a city in eastern Europe (numbering around a million). Although their numbers are gradually decreasing due to projects by the City Hall, they still remain a threat to safety as at least ten people have to be hospitalized every day for painful dog attacks, and, at night, they tend to form packs which greatly increases their danger. Rabies vaccinations are recommended but not required, but there have been no rabies cases in Bucharest since 1979. Most dogs will not give you a problem unless you go out of your way to pester them, but many dogs have been treated poorly. Be extremely wary of them, and do not approach a stray dog if you are alone. It is perhaps best to walk around in a group or walk where you see other people. As of 2009, stray dogs are an ever more rare sighting in the city center.
Like most other big cities, walking around at night isn't safe in some parts of the city like Pantelimon, Ferentari, Giulesti, and the Gara de Nord area. If you must travel into these neighbourhoods, it's safer to take a taxi.
Gara de Nord is not particularly dangerous to walk in but avoid suspicious-looking characters, and if you feel that you are being followed, just walk into the station. Gara de Nord and its surroundings are populated by homeless people and children. Be careful, as many street children use an amoniac-based drug and may be dangerous. As heartbreaking as this problem is, it's best to avoid any contact. If you do wish to give them something, buy food for them, don't give them money. Ferentari is a gypsy enclave in Bucharest and, while not as dangerous as it used to be, it's not advisable to walk there at night. For the traveler, there is nothing of interest there so you should have no reason to go there to begin with.
The unofficial red light district is Mătăsari, which is also a popular place for clubbers and pubs; you can walk there without any worries because it's always crowded and lively, but avoid talking to strangers in that particular area, especially gypsies. As of 2009 there have been a lot of crackdowns on pimps and prostitutes in the Matasari area, so be careful or you might wind up spending a night in jail and with a hefty fine if caught soliciting.
In the event that you do get caught in a police raid, do not attempt to bribe your way out of it with so many of them around as you might get into serious trouble. Police are more inclined to take bribes from locals than from foreigners and please be responsible and do not contribute to this phenomenon that has been plaguing this country for so many years. Police corruption has been vigorously fought in the past years, and it is not as generalized as it used to be in the 1990s. It's always better to walk on boulevards and avoid alleys and backstreets.
The crime rate is low, but a traveler must always be cautious. Violent attacks are very low, but if attacked just yell "Ajutor!". It is very difficult for anyone to get away with violent crime because as everything is packed so closely together, any loud noise will attract attention. This is truly a city that doesn't sleep. You'll find people out and around at all hours in most parts of the city. Police men are pretty friendly and the younger ones speak English, so you can ask directions. In the event that you do need to report a crime to the police, do not hesitate and proceed to the nearest police station. They will often help you to the best of their ability.
One must be incredibly careful as a pedestrian in Bucharest. Drivers are inconsiderate and often do not obey traffic signals. NEVER assume a car will stop for you at a red light--be vigilant at all times. This is definitely the biggest hasard in Bucharest, not so much in the daytime, when crowded streets make it impossible to drive cars at high speeds, but, at night, the streets clear out, a lot of illegal races taking place with reckless driving on main boulevards.
It is generally NOT recommended to drink tap water, mostly because of the old pipe network that the city has at its disposal, and the huge amounts of chlorine added into the water. You should buy bottled water, available in 2 liter bottles (carbonated - apă minerală/acidulată, or non-carbonated - apă plată; about 2.0-2.5 lei/bottle), or in 5 liter bottles (non-carbonated, about 3.0-5.0 lei/bottle).
Those with allergies may find Bucharest annoying in that it is both hot and very dusty in the summer, with temperatures easily exceeding 40 C in July and August, so bring whatever you might need to stay comfortable. Please note that there are very limited shaded areas in Bucharest, so, during the summer, sun strokes and heat strokes can be very dangerous.
Pharmacies are usually open between 9 AM and 6 PM, but many will stay open through the night. In Romania, there are relatively few over-the-counter drugs available, but pharmacists are allowed to dispense limited quantities of some prescription drugs (such as pain relief medicine) for what they see as immediate needs. Bucharest has 6 designated emergency hospitals and a modern ambulance service, plus a large number of additional public and private hospitals, clinics, and dental practices.
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BUCHAREST (Bucuresci), also written Bucarest, Bukarest, Bukharest, Bukorest and Bukhorest, the capital of Rumania, and chief town of the department of Ilfov. Although Bucharest is the conventional English spelling, the forms Bucarest and Bukarest more nearly represent the correct pronunciation. The population in 1900 was 282,071, including 43,274 Jews, and 53,056 aliens, mostly Austro-Hungarian subjects. With its outlying parts, Bucharest covers more than 20 sq. m. It lies in a hollow, traversed from north-west to south-east by the river Dimbovitza (Ddmbovita or Dimbovita), and is built mainly on the left bank. A range of low hills affords shelter on the west and south-west; but on every other side there are drained, though still unhealthy, marshes, stretching away to meet the central Walachian plains. From a distance, the multitude of its gardens, and the turrets and metal-plated or gilded cupolas of its many churches give Bucharest a certain picturesqueness. In a few of the older districts, too, where land is least valuable, there are antique one-storeyed houses, surrounded by poplars and acacias; while the gipsies and Rumans, wearing their brightly coloured native costumes, the Russian coachmen, or sleighdrivers, of the banished Lipovan sect, and the pedlars, with their doleful street cries, render Bucharest unlike any western capital. Nevertheless, the city is modern. Until about 1860, indeed, the dimly lit lanes were paved with rough stone blocks, imbedded in the clay soil, which often subsided, so as to leave the surface undulating like a sea. Drains were rare, epidemics common. Owing to the frequency of earthquakes, many houses were built of wood, and in 1847 fully a quarter of the city was laid waste by fire. The plague visited Bucharest in" 1718, 1 73 8, 1 793, when an earthquake destroyed a number of old buildings, and in 1813, when 70,000 of the inhabitants died in six weeks. From the accession of Prince Charles, in 1866, a gradual reform began. The river was enclosed between stone embankments; sewerage and pure water were supplied, gas and electric light installed; and horse or electric tramways laid down in the principal thoroughfares, which were paved with granite or wood. The older houses are of brick, overlaid with white or tinted plaster, and ornamented with figures or foliage in terra-cotta; but owing to the great changes of temperature in Rumania, the plaster soon cracks and peels off, giving a dilapidated appearance to many streets. The chief modern' buildings, such as the Athenaeum, with its Ionic facade and Byzantine dome, are principally on the quays and boulevards, and are constructed of stone.
Bucharest is often called " The Paris of the East," partly from a supposed social resemblance, partly from the number of its boulevards and avenues. Three main thoroughfares, the Plevna, Lipscani, and Vacaresci, skirt the left bank of the river; the Elizabeth Boulevard, and the Calea Victories, or " Avenue of Victory," which commemorates the Rumanian success at Plevna, in 1877, radiate east and north, respectively, from the Lipscani, and meet a broad road which surrounds all sides of Bucharest, except the north-west. The Lipscani was originally the street of merchants who obtained their wares from the annual fair at Leipzig; for almost all crafts or gilds, other than the bakers and tavern-keepers, were long confined to separate quarters; and the old names have survived, as in the musicians', furriers', and money-changers' quarters. Continuous with the Calea Victories, on the north, is the Kisilev Park, traversed by the Chausee, a favourite drive, leading to the pretty Baneasa race-course, where spring and autumn meetings are held. The Cismegiu or Ci§migiu Park, which has a circumference of about r m., is laid out between the Plevna road and the Calea Victories; and there are botanical and zoological gardens.
The Orthodox Greek churches are generally small, with very narrow windows, and are built of brick in a modified Byzantine style. They are usually surmounted by two or three towers, but the bells are hung in a kind of wooden porch, resembling a
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