Bucharest was alternating with Curtea de Argeş (the first capital) and Târgovişte during the second half of the 16th century and the first half of the 17th century as the capital city of Valahia. The main residence of the ruling prince was directly dependent of his politics--a filo-Turkish approach (Bucharest was the option), or an intent of independence (Curtea de Argeş was, in this case, the option).
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."
And indeed Bucharest has grown to a cosmopolitan city. It has had a Protestant church since 1574 and a Catholic church since 1637 in an Orthodox country. However, its economy entered a boom during the Fanariot period (1715-1821), when the Turks appointed the Rulers from the members of the Greek community of Constantinople, today’s Istanbul. It was a period of high corruption (in order to get things done), when Bucharest took advantage both of a sudden increase in population and of the underground economy, just like in recent years, after the downturn of Romanian communism.
During communist rule, Bucharest suffered the most--a grandiose one-sixth of the city had been destroyed, the greatest destruction of a city in times of peace. From the architectural point of view, Bucharest itself does look in a pretty good state, despite the great destruction of communism. It mainly takes a few steps beyond the modern buildings to get to see the nice old centre. If you have done so, you will find a complete image of Bucharest: buildings date as far back as 1558, many from the 18th and 19th centuries and some of a more recent date, including some important ones built during the communist rule.
In more recent times, Bucharest has grown considerably in size, reaching 2.5 million inhabitants, more than 10% of the country’s population. Quite understandably, people from other Romanian cities do feel overwhelmed when trying to get at grips with the whole hectic aura of the capital or when trying to make their way through the very Latin-style traffic here.
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