Romania is the country settled in Southeastern Europe and only partially in Middle Europe. The capital of the country is Bucharest. This city is not only the capital and the biggest city in Romania but also industrial, cultural and commercial center of the country. This magnificent city is settled in the southern part of the country in important historical province of Wallachia. The city lies on the banks of the river Dambovita. The river is only sixty kilometers away from the Danube. Bucharest is also the name of the city-district.
The city occupies the territory of 228 square kilometers. It is the sixth largest city in the European Union. Over two million people live in the entire city (according to the list from 2016).
There are many different stories about how the city of Bucharest got its name. One of them is that the city’s name originates from the founder of the city. His name was Bucur. Some claim that he was prince, others that he was a hunter, a fisherman or a shepherd. The controversy about the name is obvious but makes things more interesting.
One more interesting theory is that the name comes from the Romanian word bucurie which means joy, happiness.
Another theory says that Bucharest got its name from beech forests.
Residents of the city are called Bucharesters.
History of the city
Bucharest was first mentioned in 1459. In these first documents it was mentioned under the name “the Citadel of Bucharest”. Then it was the residence of the prince Vlad the third the Impaler (to us better known as Dracula). In the 18th century, the town was handed over to Greek administration (until then it was under the Ottoman jurisdiction). This didn’t last long time and Greeks were soon thrown off.
The area of the city was under constant attacks with a very unstable situation and often wars. But, this situation didn’t stop the development and progress of the city. It was burnt in the 17th century, conquered by the Habsburgs and Russia in the 18th and the 19th century and in 1848, Bucharest was battlefield of the Revolution.
After the unification of Wallachia and Moldavia in 1861, the city became the capital. This woke the city up and it made its progress possible. At the same time the population grew.
The influence of France is quite obvious. There are many parks, palaces and boulevards made mostly by French and Italian architects. This is when Bucharest got its nickname “Little Paris” or “Paris of the East”.
The development of the city was interrupted during the First World War. In this war, the city was under German occupation (1916-18). However, after the war the city becomes the center of Great Romania, one of the biggest European countries back then. This enabled rapid rise and growth.
The Second World War wasn’t as horrible for Bucharest as The First. But, in this period, the influence of the communist regime was big. The city was completely transformed. Massive urbanization and transformation happened under the authority of Nicolai Ceausescu. Additionally, a huge earthquake hit the city in 1977.
1989 was the year of a Romanian Revolution which was especially bloody in Bucharest. After this, the city and the entire country went through a hard time.
Law, administration and government
Bucharest has the unique administration in Romania. It is the only municipal area that is not part of any county. The head of the city’s government is a general mayor. Every decision is discussed and approved by the General Council (made of 55 councilors). The city is divided into six sectors (administrative). All councilors and are elected every four years.
The justice system is the same like in the rest of Romania. Each of the six sectors has its own local court.
The crime rate is lower than in most European cities.
As the capital of the state, Bucharest has very vivid and well-developed cultural life. There are many museums, theatres, libraries, galleries, cultural centers. The state opera and Philharmonics are also here. Bucharest’s cultural; scene does not have a typical nor defined cultural style. It’s a mixture of national and international culture.
There are many interesting sights you can see and visit when you come to Bucharest. Maybe the most outstanding is The Palace of the Parliament. It was built in 1980s during the communist regime. Romania has the largest Parliament building in the world as well as The National Museum of Contemporary Art.
The Arch of Triumph was initially built of wood (in 1878). It was built in the memory of Romanian soldiers who won the Independence War. It was rebuilt in 1922 and redecorated in 1936.You can climb to the top and enjoy the view of the city.
House of the Free Press is an impressive building set in the northern part of the city. This building is a smaller copy of the Lomonosov University in Moscow.
One of the oldest and probably most charming streets in Bucharest is Victory Way (Calea Victoriei). Some of the most stunning and most beautiful squares and buildings are in this street (National History Museum, the Revolution Square, National Savings Bank Palace, Cantacuzino Palace, and others).
The Romanian Athenaeum is a building considered as the national symbol of Romanian culture. Memorial of Rebirth is one of the newer landmarks of the city. It’s a marble pillar built in the memory of Romanian victims of the Revolution in 1989.
There are many other places you will enjoy seeing and visiting if you ever come to this amazing city. Don’t miss the National Museum of Art of Romania, Museum of the Romanian Peasant, Military Museum and many, many others.
Bucharest is a very vivid city, a combination of traditional and modern way of life. One thing is for sure, if you ever come to Bucharest you won’t be bored. Music and nightlife are very rich. Jazz, blues, house music, punk on one side and opera and traditional music on the other side will complete the experience.
Bucharest is the organizer of many festivals every year (Bucharest Film Festival, Chinese New Year’s Eve Festival, etc.). Many cinemas, art biennale will also complete your staying in this marvelous city.
Bucharest is one of the cities you should definitely visit if you ever have the chance. You wouldn’t believe how beautiful and impressive it is.