No doubt when arriving to Bucharest our guests are impressed by its many influences: soviet, French, Turkish and it is no wonder, considering its rich history.
The story, not history, of Bucharest starts with a simple man and a simple situation. So simple in fact, that even scholars believe it to be true. Also, we really have no other version, therefore we must make the most of what we have 😉
Legend has it that Bucur, a shepherd from Transylvania, his wife, Dambovita and their sheep travel over the mountains to Wallachia – the name of the southern province of Romania, and find the Vlasia forest, crossed by a beautiful river, rich in pastures for sheep. That was it – Paradise! They settled here and live happily ever after in – The land of Bucur’s people – in Romanian that would sound like: Bucuresci, or, more modern: Bucuresti, naming the river crossing the city after his beautiful wife: Dambovita.
Simple right?! Too simple!
All the more reason to believe it.
THE HISTORICAL FACTS | OTTOMAN PERIOD
Actually, the first official historical mention of Bucharest is in a document dated in 1459, written by Vlad the Impaler. At the time, Wallachia was under Ottoman rule, and it stayed so for the next 400 years.
In spite of this, between 1500- 1800 the city is in constant development due to its location on the Silk Route, and therefore rich economy. The Old Royal Court, whose ruins you may see nowadays in the old town, has been built in the mid 16th century on the right bank of the river, and shortly after a church is added to the royal complex – the church still stands proud today, under a new name – St Anthony.
The late 19th century marks the beginning of the modern period of Bucharest. The Ottomans are slowly pushed out by repeated rebellions and revolts so that by 1878 Wallachia is finally declared independent from Ottoman rule.
FRENCH MODERN PERIOD
1850s marked the beginning of a prosperous period for Romania as well as for Bucharest, now the capital of the 3 unified Romanian provinces. We have the first Parliament (1862), University of Bucharest (1864), School of Belle-Arte, first rail roads, Romanian Academy (1879), urban, cultural and scientific development.
Bucharest is starting to resemble more and more the European capital it was meant to be, starting to be known as Little Paris: the architecture, decorations and details, specific to the Bauhaus of Romanian architecture, there are extensive technological developments: modern tramcars, electric public lighting but most importantly culture: the cultural scene of Bucharest is ever growing; true luxury takes over the streets and salons of the city.
The city goes through major changes starting the 40s when a heavy Earthquake in 1944 and the bombings of the Allied Forces destroy iconic buildings around the city: The National Theater, North Train Station, La Fayette Galleries of Bucharest.
THE COMMUNIST PERIOD
Following WW2, Romania became a communist country. For the following 45 years, priority was given to infrastructure and industry: we owe most of the large scale infrastructure in the country today to the efforts during the communist period: the metro system in Bucharest, some of our major boulevards, the Palace of the Parliament, the most beautiful road in Europe – the Transfagarasan – all of which you may enjoy on your next visit to Bucharest.
During the last 25 years Bucharest, and Romania, is going through a transitional period, recovering from the revolution in 1989. Nowadays a vibrant city, Bucharest is enjoying a rich cultural and urban life: the former sites of the revolution (such as the University Square) are now landmarks of democracy: where people protests, party, dance in the street.
Regardless of what you are looking for on your travels, Bucharest has it hidden somewhere: good street food, urban art, rich stories about the past, elegant boulevards and shops and so on.
All you need to do is find the right activity whether it is a walking tour, people watching from the many cafes and great restaurants you may find in the Old Town or just wandering the streets with your camera.