A travel journal
to Bucharest by 3mttours
Quote: Mentioned the first time in the middle of the 15th century during the reign of Vlad Ţepeş, better known as Dracula, Bucharest has seen a big increase in size and reputation until the 20th century, thus becoming a regional Capital and a cosmopolitan city and a sharp decline during communism.
Hotel | "Hotel Opra"
If you are looking for a hotel that feels just like home, Hotel Opera is the place. Reopened in December 2002, Hotel Opera is perfectly placed in a central cultural and business area of Bucharest in a really quiet corner close to the Cişmigiu Garden.
Paintings depict the city during the previous century, and silver objects and porcelain add a distinctive note to each room. Warm colours and the quality of personalized services transform it in a unique executive business hotel that combines the glamour of the beginning of the 20th century with today’s comfort standards.
The rooms offer modern comfort in a traditional manner perfectly suited both for business and for leisure. On the seventh floor there is a conference room and a business lounge, as well as a place for playing games and relaxation.
It is a small hotel of only 33 rooms:- 4 executive rooms with the names of operas: Aida, Boema, Tosca, and Travita- 3 junior suites with the names of operas: Rigoletto, Nabuci, and Carmen- 20 double rooms- 6 single rooms
All rooms are air-conditioned and have a bathroom/shower, hair dryer, a mirror for make-up, cable and satellite TV, high-speed Internet access, a minibar, international phone-calling opportunities, a coffeemaker, and some rooms for people with special needs.
The hotel does not have its own restaurant, but many excellent restaurants, including fast food, are within walking distance.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 12, 2005
Str. Brezoianu nr. 37, sector 1
+40 (21) 312 48 55
Manuc Mirzaian is one of the most interesting and controversial characters of Romanian history. Born in 1769 in Rusciuk (today in Bulgaria), he found his way with the Turkish officials, receiving the Moldovian throne in 1808.
The important inheritance that he received after the death of his father helped him greatly. He bought some land near the Old Princiary Court, which was auctioned at the beginning of the 19th century, and built an inn between 1806 and 1808. The inn was built on three levels, including 15 vaulted cellars, several shops, deposits, dormitories for servants, kitchens, and dormitories and office rooms. The inner court housed a cafe.
After his protector, the great vizier, fell into disgrace and was murdered, Manuc left for Vallahia and went on the Russian side. After 1810, Manuc made himself useful to both sides, both Turkish and Russian.
Invited to Constantinople and not honouring the invitation, Manuc leaves Vallachia, and in 1814 he reappears as a state counsellor in Russia. As such, he is being approved of making a new commercial town in Bessarabia (today’s Republic of Moldova), buying in this sense a piece of land at Hancesti. The project soon comes to an end, without anything being done, as a result of his mysterious death on June 20, 1817.
After Manuc’s death, his inn in Bucharest has different roles. Thus, in 1861 it becomes a hotel, and in 1916 and around World War I it serves as meeting place of all political parties, while nowadays travellers see it restored to its initial functioning as a hotel with a restaurant and a wine cellar.
It's nice to have a coffee break here, but service needs improvement. Just go on and take a look!
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on December 12, 2005
62 – 64 Franceza Street
+40 21 3131415
Restaurant | "Restaurant & Hotel Capşa"
Built in the 1880s as a posh restaurant and hotel, the Restaurant Capşa has become internationally reputed. Shortly after Romania’s entry into World War I, half of the country was under occupation. Well, Capşa became an important meeting club of the occupation army, a sort of club of the superiors of the said army.
Stories of the old tell how a general of the occupation army, a regular guest of the restaurant, having his coffee after lunch, spits on the floor to his right. The waiter, not saying a thing, brings a silvery bowl and puts it on the table for his guest’s convenience, on the side where he had previously spit. After a while, the guest, the general, spits again, now on his left. The waiter duly takes the bowl and moves it on the other side of the table. The general, really annoyed, told him, “If you don’t take that thing immediately away, I’ll spit in it!” not realising the bowl was intended exactly for this purpose.
The building (restaurant and hotel) has the very French look that was so modern at the end of the 19th century in Bucharest. The restaurant is highly specialised in French food and also serves some Romanian dishes. For a three-course meal, including drinks, one should count on around spending $20. The hotel itself re-opened in 2003 after a rather long break and offers the usual services of a five-star hotel.
I recommend it anytime to anyone wanting a special dinner out in town. The staff at Capşa can actually do the dinner special for you.
Restaurant & Hotel Capa
Attraction | "The Church of the Old Princiary Court"
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 12, 2005
Church of the Old Princiary Court
St. George's Churches of Bucharest
Attraction | "The Romanian Patriarchy"
In 1688 it took over the title of the Valahian Mitropolitan Seat from the Old St. George’s Church. In 1886 the church was repainted by Gh. Tattarescu. From its original painting remains only the icon of its festivity, the icon of the Saint Emperors Constantin and Helen.
In 1744, Russian General Saltâkov brought from Rusciuk (today’s Bulgaria) the relics of the Saint Dimitrie Basarabov, with the intent to bring them to Russia. He was convinced to leave them to the Mitropoly, and the saint became the protector of the city. During World War I, the Bulgarian army stole the relics. The Prefect of Bucharest intervened, asking a German detachment to catch up with them and bring the relics back. They duly accepted and the relics were brought back to the Mitropoly.
In 1678, the Metropolitan Bishop Varlaam installed a second publishing house at the Mitropoly. The first book printed here was The Clue of Meaning. Other books followed in several languages (Greek, Slavone, Arabian, and Turkish, the first book printed in Turkish in Bucharest). Of utter importance to the Romanian language was the Bible, printed at the Mitropolitan Seat of Bucharest.
In 1925, when the Romanian Orthodox Church was raised to the level of a Patriarchy, the church became the Patriarchal Cathedral Romania’s, alongside Valahia’s Mitropoly.
Also on the Patriarchy’s Hill, the place of the meeting room of the Divan (the first form of Parliament in Valahia) and the meeting place for discussions of the Union of Moldova and Valahia in 1859, the Parliament’s Palace has been constructed in 1907. It is proven too little by 1996, when the one of the chambers of the Parliament moves to the House of the People (now Parliament’s House) and the building is taken over by the Patriarchy.
Attraction | "The Princiary School at St. Sava"
Princiary School at St. Sava
Bulevardul Geniului, nr. 1
Attraction | "Calea Victoriei - The History of a Road"
Attraction | "The Romanian Athenaeum"
When inside, one will wonder at its architecture: a round hall. The reason for building it so came less because of acustics, but rather because before the ground being given to the Athenaeum; it was planned to build a circus here. The foundations were already in place and it was imposed on the Athanaeum to keep these foundations. This imposed the whole architecture of the halls. Being short of space, the four stairs from the entrance hall leading to the first floor are in a snail form, with a break in the form of a rounded balcony with a view on the central part of the entrance hall, bordered by 12 columns covered with an immitation of rosa marble. The round form of the main hall proved, however, very good for conferences and concerts.
Its facade was inspired by the Erechteion Temple in Athens, while the circular middle, with its cupola, was inspired by Lysicratos’ Monument in Athens.
Attraction | "The University of Bucharest"
In 1891, at the 25th anniversary of his reign, Charles I of Romania donated the necessary money to build a university close to his royal residence. Some 4 years later, the institution was ready for inauguration.
Among the objectives HM set for the university was building a library, which initially hosted 3,400 volumes, most of which were donated by His Majesty himself (this being the first university library); facilitating the study for undergraduate and for postgraduate degrees; providing bursaries for poor, though brilliant students; and also printing students’ works and PhD thesis. While in the beginning there was a pretty high control from the side of His Majesty, after gaining some experience, the institution also gained more independence.
The number of students grew steadily, so by 1914, a second building, the one in today’s University Square, had been bought. Both buildings were designed by the French architect Paul Gottereau, an influential architect in Bucharest of that time (his are also the plans for the headquarters of the Economies’ House).
It is the achievement of HM Charles I that up until World War I, the University of Bucharest was able to make ends meet within its budget, as the Royal Family in fact administered its finances and made sure to keep it without the reach of political parties. Charles I dies in October 1914, and his successor, a nephew of his, Ferdinand, decides under the pressure of the political parties to enter the war. Just a few months later, Bucharest and half of the country sees itself occupied by the allied armies of the Austrian empire and Bulgaria. The University of Bucharest had to stop any teaching and research activity during these times. After the war, the national currency was strongly devalued and the university could not maintain itself from its own budget, so it needed subsidies.
University of Bucharest
36-46, M. Kogălniceanu Bd
+40 21-307 73 00
Attraction | "The House of The People"
To build the House of the People and the Research Institute nearby (intended for Elena Ceauşescu, the dictator’s wife) and the whole complex of ministries, institutes, and flats for the leaders of the country and for the members of the Communist Party, a whole part of the city was destroyed, just to build it all on the most seismic stable hill of Bucharest. It is said that one sixth of the city was destroyed during Communist time, the biggest ever destruction in times of peace.
It should have been the second biggest building in the world in terms of the surface it occupies (the Pentagon in the US is bigger than the House of the People) or the third biggest building in terms of its inner volume, just after Keop’s Pyramid. Its function: an administrative building, with facilities for press releases and meeting the press and holding conferences. Its advantages went further: it had a balcony for speeches to the masses, which overlooked a square where some 600,000 persons could gather, double the size of the square in front of the former Central Committee (now, Square of the Revolution), where Ceauşescu held his last speech in December 1989. Ceauşescu could not use it, however. By the end of 1989, only half of the building has been finished (while thousands of workers worked in three shifts, which meant they were working 24 hours a day). The first person to talk from the balcony was Michael Jackson in 1994, who upset his fans from Bucharest by greeting with, "Hello Budapest," the capital of the neighbouring country, Hungary.
Now the building is about 90% finished and can be visited. A visit is worthwhile to see luxuriant rooms. Some two rooms are used presently by the Parliament, while various rooms can be rented for various events.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 13, 2005
House of The People
Attraction | "The Museum of the Jews in Romania (1)"
The Jewish Museum in Bucharest has been organised in a synagogue as soon as 1978. It is located in the old Jewish quarter of the city, downtown in Bucharest. Here, some 60 years ago, this was the place where much of the commerce of the town took place. Now the area is enclosed by a circle of blocs of flats, built during Communist rule. It is hoped, however, that this part of the city will shortly rise again.
In the very centre of the museum there is a statue of the Holocaust, a symbol of the dead of all pogroms. The statue has no head and it is hollow inside. Leading to it is a so-called “Road of the Death,” on which one can recognise footprints. All prints seem to lead only one way, in the direction of the Holocaust, as there is no return from death. The visitors learn that two former Auschwitz prisoners were asked to walk barefoot on the symbolic road to the death. In front of the statue there are six light bulbs switched on for the 6 million dead of the Holocaust.
Except the frightening statue, there are in the museum various objects to show the history of the Jews on Romanian grounds. There are reasons to think that the first Jews arrived in this area shortly after the destruction of Jerusalem. In the Roman Army that conquered Dacia, the ancient country that covered the area of today’s Romania, under the emperor Trajanus, there should have been a Jewish corpus too.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 19, 2005
Museum of the Jews from Romania
Attraction | "The Museum of the Jews from Romania (2)"
The fact is that the doctors at the princiary courts were Jews, especially in Moldova. Between the 15th and 18th centuries, there are plenty of documents attesting the presence of Jewish doctors at the courts of Stefan the Great, Vasile Lupu, and Nicolae Mavrocordat. Even in the army of Mihai Viteazu, who succeeded around 1600 to unite the Romanian principalities the first time after the Roman period, there were Jewish soldiers. Many cities have been made by Jews, especially in Moldova, where Jews were brought from other countries by the rulers or by the nobility to get the economy in a better state. Despite this, the Jews did not get any political rights in the Romanian principalities; even though they got commercial privileges, they were not recognised as citizens. The revolution at 1848 wanted to give all the inhabitants of Romania the right to claim citizenship. From 1877 to 1878, some 4,000 Jews were fighting alongside Romanians in the Independence War of the country. After the victory, they were made Romanian citizens. As late as 1918, all inhabitants of the country were given the right to Romanian citizenship, a time when the Romanian national state was founded. Since, very little time has elapsed.
Not everyone agreed to this right of citizenship given to “foreigners.” So right afterwards, the Iron Guard was formed. It followed the rebellion of the legionaries and the Communist regime that suppressed the scandal, without bringing it to an end. That was the issue of a free and democratic Romanian society that was built after the downturn of Communism in 1989. To a greater extent, we may say that has been solved.
In1632, a traveller through Bucharest wrote that it was a city "without any fortifications, laid in a region that is rich in grains and full of cattle of all sorts, of grapes and fruits; fish is abundant, the Danube being not far, at some 30 miles, and many lakes even closer to the city. This city has, on all streets and squares wooden bridges, as, being in a plain, when it rains, it gets muddy, and horses, carts and people alike walk the streets and squares on these bridges."