March 18, 2018

About Bucharest

Bucharest is the capital city of Romania and, at the same time, the city’s most important and largest: it is a political, financial, banking, commercial, cultural and scientific center. The population of more than two million people ranks Bucharest as the sixth capital city size-wise in the European Union.

In the Middle Ages the Greeks called it “HILARIOPOLIS – The City of JOY”; in the 1800s it was considered “Le Petit Paris“, fully living up to the name – for everything the city represented back then, today there is no exaggeration to say that BUCHAREST – The Capital City of Romania – is indeed a modern city in European style.

The honorable person to have established the city is either Bucur the Shepard according to tradition or the controversial Vlad the Impeller, according to the first known document, which certifies the existence of the Capital City on September 20th 1459. Actually, historic and archeological research has revealed the remains of a fortress, dated back to the first half of the 14th century. It was then that Bucharest was born and around this 160 square meter fortress, the following would be built one by one: The Royal Court, Mircea the Shepard’s Church (1558-1559), the streets of craftsmen and tradesmen, in other words the political and cultural city.

The area developed step by step, bringing together the neighboring villages around the old history center. Dâmboviţa served as the binder of the urban area; this area sought for its natural dimensions, extending mainly to the north, in the lake area. The memory of the old villages is still preserved today in the conscience of Bucharest citizens, who are familiar with names such as Berceni, Floreasca, Colentina and Pantelimon.

In 1659 Bucharest becomes the Capital City of Walachia. The City develops, numerous churches, large fortified inns are erected and the first road paved with wood boards appears, Mogoşoaiei Bridge (1692), renamed Calea Victoriei later, in 1878. Văcăreşti Monastery (1724) is built; this was a masterpiece of Brâncoveanu architecture, and was demolished in the last years of the communist regime.

In the 19th century, the city is modernized, and chosen as the Capital City of Romania which was born after the unification of Moldova and Walachia, in 1862. Back then, it was the largest city in south-east Europe, after Istanbul. The following appear: wood paving, followed by Scotland and Sicily granite, public illumination, the sewage system and parks. Towards the end of the century two axes are traced: north-south and east-west which outline the city. The reign of Carol I (1866-1914) witnesses the erection of great representative edifices in Bucur’s city: The Romanian Athenaeum (1888), Carol I Foundation (1891), The Ministry of Agriculture (1894), The Palace of Justice (1890-1895), The Palace of the Post (1894-1900), The Sturdza Palace (1899), The CEC Palace (1900), The Patriarhiei Palace (1907), The Military Center (1912), Athenee Palace Hotel (1914), etc.

After the First World War (1914-1918), Bucharest becomes one of the most beautiful European capitals, and deservedly receives the name “Little Paris” due to its bright cultural and social life, atmosphere and architecture”.

Its natural and harmonious development was interrupted by the establishment of the communist regime (1945-1989). The city became the subject of a devastating social and town-planning experiment. Hundreds of thousands of people were taken to Bucharest, along with the forced industrialization of the capital city. With no connection to the city, the new inhabitants were relocated to dormitory-blocks which, in turn, formed the labor satellite districts of Bucharest. In Ceausescu epoch, an area the size of Venice was demolished in order to make room for the People’s House project. Tens of churches, among which some with outstanding historic and architectural value were demolished: Sfânta Vineri, Văcăreşti Monastery, Enei Church, etc.

Today, the city is a mixture of the old and new, traditional and modern, east and west, which on the one hand gives it the aspect of an eclectic and chaotic metropolis, and originality and charm, on the other.

Bucharest City Hall manages the city and is headed by the General Mayor (currently Gabriela Firea). The City is divided into 6 administrative boroughs, each managed by its own mayor’s office. The boroughs are displayed in a radius (and numbered clock-wise), so that each of them manages a part of the center of Bucharest.

The Patron Saint of Bucharest: Saint Dimitrie Cel Nou Basarabov; one of the most important representatives of Christian life, whose relics are preserved in the Patriarchy Cathedral of Bucharest.

Photo – Bucharest City Hall