Bucharest is Romania’s capital and largest city. Nicknamed “Little Paris”, it has the charm and character to live up to that moniker. Wide boulevards are enhanced with multiple fountains in each direction.
Main sites include the Parliament Palace which is the world’s second largest building (after the US pentagon), Revolution Square, the Arch of Triumph, Romanian Athenaeum, and the WWII American Memorial.
Oh how I would have loved to have seen the inside of this building. Listed as the largest civilian building in the world, it is comprised of over 1100 rooms and approximately 3,700,000 sq. ft. (340,000 m2).
Sadly the construction of the Parliament Palace required the destruction of much of Bucharest’s historic district, which included:
19 Orthodox Christian churches, six Jewish synagogues, three Protestant churches (plus eight relocated churches), and 30,000 residences ~ Wikipedia
The square gained worldwide attention on December 21, 1989 when Communist Dictator Nicolae Ceausescu’s final moments in power were televised from here.
While standing on the balcony of the former Communist Party Headquarters, Ceausescu watched as the people gathered below turned on him. He fled the angry crowd by helicopter but was captured outside of the city a few hours later.
Dimitrie Gusti National Village Museum
The outdoor Village Museum was established in 1936 and contains over 300 structures including fully furnished traditional Romanian wooden houses, windmills, churches and other village buildings brought from all over the country and reassembled here.
Most of the buildings are from the 18th and 19th century. Located on the shores of Lake Herastrau, it is the largest open-air museum of this kind in Europe.
We wound up the tour portion with a stop at the Cotroceni Museum which is made up of two parts, the Cotroceni Monastery and the Royal Palace. I was disappointed that zero photography was allowed, so I had to make do with mental memories only.
That evening it was time for the final hoorah of the tour which included a celebratory dinner and being entertained by traditional music and dancers in full costume. The music was lively even if the musicians themselves looked bored. I took around 50 pictures of them playing and did not capture a single smile until the end when a young bright-eyed girl caught the band leaders eye. What happened next brought everyone to their feet in appreciation.
The band leader noticed and swept her up in his arms, twirling her to the music…
And that “dear friends” completed the organized part of our tour. I’m sitting here laughing silently to myself. Our tour leader, called us “dear friends” with every long-winded sentence that came out of his mouth.
It is funny what sticks with you.
The next morning we moved to a new hotel and started exploring on our own. To be continued…