Bucharest has been Romania’s capital for 150 years. Due to its geographic position, Bucharest is close to both East and West. Interestingly, however, it has decidedly been under a Slavic sphere of influence – which is enough to create a rich cultural mix, quite unique among European capitals. A first glance on the city leaves you wondering about the numerous architectural styles, a likely answer being given by the history of the last two hundred years. Moreover, Bucharest’s proximity to Istanbul meant assimilating and integrating elements from their architecture, the cuisine and fashion style.
You can easily “get lost” yourself on one of the winding, narrow streets of Bucharest’s historical center, where tourists look for a seat at a restaurant or a terrace café, but there are a lot more things to do in Bucharest.
Bucharest’s golden age is considered the one-hundred-year span when the city thrived under a marked Western influence. The economic and cultural peak was reached in the interwar period, in 1938. Culturally speaking, in the nineteenth century Romania was a francophone country, as French was spoken by both the elites and the common people. No wonder our capital was nicknamed Little Paris, a name we nostalgically return to time and again. It was a prosperous, elegant and attractive city with cosmopolitan highlights. Iconic buildings remained witnesses of a privileged past: the Atheneum, Cotroceni Palace, Calea Victoriei boulevard. This elegant avenue revealing the facades of outstanding buildings hosts chic cafés, designer stores, museums and churches of great historical value.
The 50 years of communism have equally left their signature on the architecture of the city, as well: huge urban projects, administrative buildings entering the book of records in terms of size and … too little freedom. Yet, don’t be surprised to discover an underlying nostalgia associated with the communist regime or powerful emotions triggered by the ‘89 Revolution, the first revolution broadcast live in TV history. These are all part of who we are, of our recent past. The last two decades have meant finding our way, struggling for an identity whose landmarks can be discovered in the city’s youthful spirit, in the new generations that come with a different mentality.