The nation's capital since 1862, Bucharest is the country's largest and wealthiest metropolis. Tree-lined boulevards, classical buildings, and extravagant public structures lie in juxtaposition to crowded streets, Stalinist apartment blocks, and towering skyscrapers. It is a city where east meets west, where utilitarianism meets extravagance, and where business meets pleasure.
Bucharest Skyline © seisdeagosto
Once considered the 'Paris of the East' for its long leafy avenues, grand buildings, and distinguished social scene enjoyed by the extravagant Romanian aristocracy, the city's elegance and beauty soon deteriorated under the harsh era of communism. The notorious redevelopment project by Nicolae Ceausescu, leader of the Communist Party in 1965, was a scandalous affair. In order to create an imitation Champs Elysee, a Civic Centre, and 12-storey palace for himself together with a parliament building, he demolished an immense area of historic architecture in the old city, including 26 churches. The parliament building was designed to be the largest building in the world. It is now known as the Palace of Parliament, second in size to the Pentagon, and has become one of the city's prime tourist attractions.
However, the capital of Romania is now experiencing a cultural revival; historic buildings have been restored and there is plenty of nightlife and an increasing amount of cultural events. It offers a number of superb museums, galleries, exquisite Orthodox churches, and architectural delights. Its political legacy provides a fascinating selection of sights where visitors can rediscover the events of its sobering past. Traditional Romanian cooking can be savoured alongside international cuisine, and in summer festive beer gardens and picturesque parks are filled with cheerful crowds.