FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Bucharest Revives Itself as a Vibrant City

by Karin Leperi

Mar 4, 2020

PHOTO: © GUTESCU EDUARD – DREAMSTIME .COM

March 2020

CONSIDERED THE CULTURAL, industrial and financial center of Romania’s three traditional regions (Wallachia, Moldova and Transylvania), Bucharest continues to emerge from its Communist past and the oppressive regime of the former Communist dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu and his wife, Elena.

To its credit, the largest city and capital of Romania morphed from its tyrannical past with a vibrancy and energy yielding many surprises worth checking out. Allow several days to take in the architecture, monuments, museums, gardens and old town restaurants before heading out to the more traditional region of Transylvania.

Nicknamed the “Little Paris of the East” because of its elegant architecture, largely redesigned by French and Romanian architects trained in Paris between the two world wars, the city features large, tree-lined boulevards along with a triumphal arch, forming a nice counterpoint to former dictator Ceauşescu’s most storied creation of excess: the Palace of the Parliament.

The Palace of the Parliament is the second-largest office building in the world, right behind the U.S. Pentagon. Built on a manmade hill riddled with secret passageways and underground shelters, construction started in 1984 and, ironically, remains unfinished. The construction burdened the Romanian people with a heavy foreign debt, with a cost today of about €3 billion. Originally designed to house all government, it was also to be Nicolae Ceauşescu’s home. Guided tours are available, but make a reservation before you visit.

The historic core of Bucharest, known as the Old City, is anything but dated. You’ll find trendy restaurants, outdoor drinking gardens, bars, clubs and cafés. The vibe alternates between eating, drinking and dancing, depending on the time of day or night. Check out tiny lanes like Strada Smârdan or Strada Covaci.

With a deeply rooted Eastern Orthodox tradition, Bucharest houses ecclesiastical architecture that fuses elements of Byzantine, Greek, Ottoman and Renaissance styles. Look for high steeples with elaborate frescoes, raised pillars and stone balustrades. From the Stavropoleos to St. Apostles’ Church and Antim Church, these sacred spectacles will delight any visitor.

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