Bucharest On the Road

Bucharest, Romania
Bucharest - a city with a heavy past. She was once Vlad the Impaler's summer residence, and is steeped in turbulent history, invasions, World War bombings, and of course, the original Vampire's darker heritage. In the 1930s, Bucharest claimed her glory years, and was also known as the 'Paris of the East'. The late 60s to 80s was instead shadowed by Nicolae Ceausescu’s dark years of dictatorship.

But enough of yesterday - in Bucharest, it’s all about looking forward, and now.

Recently, Bucharest has been gaining a reputation as a heady new European city in the making. Her pending entry into the European Union for 2007 has changed things tenfold. Emerging from darker communist days and a tyrannical ruler, Bucharest is slowly regaining her glory status. The vibrant cityscape offers culture in bucket-loads, and her quirky character will have you itching to discover more. She hasn’t been described as crazy beautiful for no reason!

After all, while Bucharest is looking forward, those rough edges, throwbacks from a turbulent history are what really make her unique. On her streets you’ll find remnants of a Communist era alongside Grand Belle Epoque buildings on wide, tree lined boulevards, and run down areas jostling for space next to the world’s biggest public office (and monument to megalomaniac ex-dictator).

Bucharest is full of architectural gems, from neoclassical, Byzantine and art nouveau to beaux arts and unsurprising communist blocks. You’ll find grand examples on the Calea Victoriei, Bucharest’s main artery, a wide, tree-lined boulevard. On the Lipscari St, the old garment district, you’ll find examples of architecture spanning over 6 centuries. Dig further into her past and visit old Dracula at the Curtea Veche, and old fortress of Vlad the Impalers built in 1459.

But there’s nothing like the megalomaniac glory of Ceausescu and his grand Palace of Parliament, now standing practically empty. This is Bucharest’s main attraction, and oddly fascinating if you stop to think about the sacrifices the people made for lavish marble and crystal rooms. This is the world second largest ‘office’ building, and is filled with marble edifices, crystal chandeliers and a reception hall designed with an open roof. For helicopter landings (of course).