Architecture in Bucharest, the capital of Romania, is the miraculous result of ecclesiastic architecture – a city of paradoxes and contrasts. Most of down-town Bucharest follows no single rule in terms of urban design. There is no obvious delimitation between styles or periods, as there is no delimitation between people. The people here live in so different conditions that the poles are two worlds apart.
When I was there at the CEPIS Council meeting last weekend I combined business and pleasure while taking my wife along for some more urban adventures. We had Sunday off, and used it to explore the city and we gladly take you along. Let me start with a pic to demonstrate the contrast:
Bucharest Financial District:
The first bank in Romania, now a very inefficient and overstaffed state bank; the Old National Bank, New Palaces and Romanian Commercial Bank plus the former Stock Exchange are all lined up beside each other. The glass dome used to be a trademark of the early century Bucharest skyline, alongside the Museum of History’s twin domes:
Walking around getting close to the Revolution Square, there was another building designed by the same architect. Built between 1896 and 1900, this classical French Eclectic building the Roman Atheneum, and has been used in the motion picture Amen by Costas Gavras as a replacement for the Vatican:
The Military House:
A gigantic flag is placed in the middle of a square called the Square of the Flag. The building right in front of you is the Army Club, a very impressive ornate building dating from 1912 and having as creators the architects Dimitrie Maimarolu, Victor Stefanescu and Ernest Doneaud.
In the streets of Bucharest:
Since pictures say more than a thousand words, and keeping these architectural paradoxes and contrasts in mind – let me show you some random pics from the streets of Bucharest:
Not “In the streets of London….” – But: In the streets of Bucharest.
The Cişmigiu Gardens or Park:
Bucharest is rich in public parks, leafy avenues, and scattered lakes. The first public park, Cişmigiu, was laid out by the German landscape gardener Carl F. W. Meyer , who was called to Bucharest to create a People’s Park in the 1830s. He drained marshland, created lakes with islands, meadows with clumps of trees, and laid out drives and paths. Let me give me a peek of how it looks in early spring time, a week ago:
Meyer planted more than 30,000 trees and shrubs, and placed pavilions to enjoy the main viewpoints of the city and the park. Later alterations have included the eclectic work of the German architect F. von Rebhuhn in 1910. Today long rows of clipped lime trees, yew hedges, rose gardens, and box-edged beds filled with seasonal bedding provide a basic structure.
This is my second post from our trip to Bucharest. The last one was about our culinary adventure.
So stay tuned, as there will be more about the famous Palace and the history of Romania and why this country is called so. Bucharest was a very different city from any other place I have been, maybe any other place in the world and when we got over the contrast in architecture it got to be quite funny to look around. Sunday in the park was also quite an experience since it is a popular activity for the local residents. I do hope you enjoy this series and will follow along. Do you want similar adventures in Scandinavia… join Oslo Blog Gathering 2010… sign up now!