TOURIST INFORMATION


Known for its wide, tree-lined boulevards, glorious Belle Epoque buildings and a reputation for the high life (which in the 1900s earned its nickname of "Little Paris"), Bucharest, Romania's largest city and capital, is today a bustling metropolis. Romanian legend has it that the city of Bucharest was founded on the banks of the Dambovita River by a shepherd named Bucur, whose name literarily means "joy." His flute playing reportedly dazzled the people and his hearty wine from nearby vineyards endeared him to the local traders, who gave his name to the place. In the 15th century, the princely court of Vlad Tepes (thought to have been the inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula)was established here and by the end of the 17th century, the city had become the capital of the province of Walachia. In 1862, Bucharest became the capital of Romania.

The Romanian Atheneum Remodeled in the late 19th century by French and French-trained architects, the city features large neoclassical buildings, fashionable parks, and even its very own Arc de Triomphe on the elegant Soseaua Kiseleff, an avenue longer than the famed Champs-Elysees and home to the city's mansion district.

Bucharest is laden with historical charm - from the streets of the Old City Centre, which are slowly being restored, to the grand architecture of the Royal Palace and the lush green of Cismigiu Park. The city also claims a large number of museums, art galleries, exquisite Orthodox churches and unique architectural sites. Nicolae Ceausescu's legacy, including the Parliament Palace (formerly called the People's Palace), which at 3.76 million square feet stands as the world's second largest building after the U.S. Pentagon, provides an interesting introduction to the dictator's megalomaniac vision.

Bucharest's buzzing cultural scene - 37 museums, 22 theatres, concert halls, opera house, 18 art galleries, jazz clubs and hip nightclubs - will certainly keep you busy. Every two years, Bucharest is host to the George Enescu International Festival, a prestigious cultural event named after the famous Romanian musician and composer. Renowned orchestras, conductors and soloists perform at the Romanian Athenaeum, a hall with acoustics comparable to Milan's La Scala.

CITY LANDMARKS


The Arch of Triumpf

The Arch of Triumpf
Initially built of wood in 1922 to honor the bravery of Romanian soldiers who fought in World War I, Bucharest's very own Arc de Triomphe was finished in Deva granite in 1936. Designed by the architect, Petre Antonescu, the Arc stands 85 feet high. An interior staircase allows visitors to climb to the top for a pa- noramic view of the city. The sculptures decorating the structure were created by leading Romanian artists, including Ion Jalea, Constantin Medrea and Constantin Baraschi.
Adress: Piata Arcul de Triumf


Revolution Square

Revolution Square The square gained worldwide notoriety when TV stations around the globe broadcasted Nicolae Ceausescu's final moments in power on December 21, 1989. It was here, at the balcony of the former Communist Party Headquarters, that Ceausescu stared in disbelief as the people gathered in the square below turned on him. He fled the angry crowd in his white helicopter, only to be captured outside of the city a few hours later. The square's importance stretches back long before the dramatic events of the 1989 Revolution. On the far side of the square stands the former Royal Palace, now home to the National Art Museum, the stunning Romanian Athenaeum and the historic Athenee Palace Hotel. At the south end of the square, you can visit the small, but beautiful, Kretzulescu Church.


The Romanian Atheneum

The Romanian Atheneum The work of French architect Albert Galleron, who also designed the National Bank of Romania, the Athenaeum was completed in 1888, financed almost entirely with money donated by the general public. One of the preeminent public fundraising campaigns ever in Romania, the "Give a penny for the Athenaeum" campaign saved the project after the original patrons ran out of funds. With its high dome and Doric columns, the Athenaeum resembles an ancient temple. The lobby has a beautifully painted ceiling decorated in gold leaf, while curved balconies cascade in ringlets off a spiral staircase.
A ring of pink marble columns is linked by flowing arches where elaborate brass lanterns hang like gems from a necklace. Inside the concert hall, voluptuous frescoes cover the ceiling and walls. Renowned worldwide for its outstanding acoustics, it is Bucharest's most prestigious concert hall and home of the Romanian George Enescu Philharmonic.
Address: Str. Benjamin Franklin 1
Tel: (21) 315.00.26 or 315.25.67
Web: http://fge.org.ro/filarmonica-george-enescu/


The National Military Club

The National Military Club Standing guard imposingly, this neoclassical masterpiece, designed by Romanian architect Dimitrie Maimaroiu, was built in 1912 to serve the social, cultural and educational needs of the Romanian army. Banquets and official events are still hosted in the ballrooms, while the upstairs area is reserved for the army's library, as well as offices and classrooms for officer instruction. The main part of the building is off-limits to civilians, but the sumptuous restaurant and summer terrace is open to the public.
Address: Blvd. Regina Elisabeta 21
Tel: (21) 313.86.80
Web: http://www.cmn.ro/


Parliament Palace

Parliament Palace Built by Communist Party leader, Nicolae Ceausescu, the colossal Parliament Palace (formerly known as the People's Palace) is the second largest administrative building in the world after the Pentagon. It took 20,000 workers and 700 architects to build. The palace boasts 12 stories, 1,100 rooms, a 328-ft-long lobby and four underground levels, including an enormous nuclear bunker. When construction started in 1984, the dictator intended it to be the headquarters of his government. Today, it houses Romania's Parliament and serves as an international conference centre. Built and furnished exclusively with Romanian materials, the building reflects the work of the country's best artisans. A guided tour takes visitors through a small section of dazzling rooms, huge halls and quarters used by the Senate (when not in session). The interior is a luxurious display of crystal chandeliers, mosaics, oak paneling, marble, gold leaf, stained-glass windows and floors covered in rich carpets.

Interesting facts:
-It is the world's second-largest office building in surface (after the Pentagon) and the third largest in volume (after Cape Canaveral in the U.S. and the Great Pyramid in Egypt).
-The crystal chandelier in the Human Rights Hall (Sala Drepturilor Omului) weighs 2.5 tons.
-Some of the chandeliers have as many as 7,000 light bulbs.
Address: Calea 13 Septembrie 1, Intrarea A3
Tel: (21) 311.36.11
Hours: Mon. - Sun. 10:00am - 4:00pm
Admission charge (English guided tour available)


TRANSPORT

Henri Coanda International Airport (Otopeni) - www.otp-airport.ro
Aurel Vlaicu International Airport (Baneasa) - www.baneasa-airport.ro
Train transport - http://www.mersultrenurilorcfr.ro/
Surface public mass transportation - Route map - www.ratb.ro
Subway - Subway map - www.metrorex.ro