With over 2 million inhabitants, Bucharest is an administrative, economic, and culture center. Located in the heart of the great Muntenia Plain, the city was one of the residences of the rulers of the Wallachia region until the 18th century, and became the capital of the United Principalities of Wallachia and Moldovia in 1918. The government of Bucharest played an important role in the unification of the Romanian territories.
Organized into six areas, this is a green city with many parks, gardens and historical monuments, making it a popular starting point for vacations in Romania.
During the Middle Ages, the fair city of Bucharest began to develop, due to its commercial activity. The city center was a place for traders of all nationalities, who lived in caravanserais. Some of these caravanserais can still be seen today. The Hanul lui Manuc (caravanserai of Manuk) and Hanul cu Tei (Linden tree Inn) are some of the most well preserved.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, Bucharest was often called the “Little Paris of the Balkans” because of the similar architecture to that of Paris. At that time, the city was an important cultural center, with a special affinity for French culture. This nickname is rarely used today, as the communist era has left a lasting mark on the appearance of the city, which still prevents it from regaining its past form.
For many people, Bucharest is a reminder of the bloody revolution of 1989 and the dictator Nicolae Ceaushescu. Though the authoritarian regime is gone, the Romanian capital is still scarred by the architectural desires of the “Genius of the Carpathians”, who implemented some of the biggest follies in the history of world communism.
The architecture of Bucharest from the communist era is mainly in the area around the Romanian Parliament (the former palace of Ceaushescu), where most of the government buildings of the city are found. The palace is one of the symbols of the city and its impressive size makes it the second largest administrative building in the world.
The Little Paris of the Balkans offers many magical places: parks, gardens, cemeteries, charming little churches, impressive museums, markets, bazaars, and streets, all of which serve to provide a great amount of variety. Some must see places are the Parliament, Curtea Veche (the Old Princely Court), the Lipscani neighborhood, the Museum of the Romanian Peasant, the Arcul de Triumf, the Romanian Athenaeum and the Museum of the Romanian Village.