Formerly known as the Little Paris, nowadays Bucharest (Romania) still manages to remind locals and tourists alike about its old architecture. In terms of sky line, the city puts up a completely eclectic profile, since the old buildings still standing, which have an undeniable historical value, are heterogeneously paralleled by structures built in either a communist or a modern style.
Best described as a place of contrasts – the Paucescu House is paradigmatic in this respect – Bucharest also enables extremely contradictory reactions among foreign tourists, ranging from the more negative ones to enthusiasm. However, in order to make a clear impression of the city, one should definitely plan a trip or a stay in Bucharest.
The place as such is known to have been inhabited since ancient times, but Bucharest proper is first mentioned in the mid 16th century, when Prince Vlad the Impaler (Dracula) established his residence there in view of running his political and military campaigns against the invading Ottoman Empire. Until 1859, when Bucharest became the capital of the Principality of Romania, it was alternately under the dominion of the Hapsburg Monarchy and of the Imperial Russia. Later, Bucharest managed to get out of the communist rule, which lasted for a few decades, but the traces of the respective regime can still be contemplated in the contemporary Bucharest.
Defined as a place of contrasts, Bucharest is home to both luxury hotels and sleeping venues intended for the use of people who travel on a budget. Hilton Athenee Palace and Howard Johnson Grand Plaza are just two of the several five-star hotels in Bucharest, whereas, on the other hand, the city accommodates a single camping site, which is quite difficult to get to especially during rush hour.
In terms of cuisine, Bucharest disappoints neither the locals nor the tourists. Thus, provided that one is willing to pay a little extra, they can enjoy sampling various ethnic foods represented in Bucharest by sundry restaurants. For instance, Caru' cu Bere is quite an impressive location which, despite that it is a little pricier than expected, offers high quality services and products in a unique ambiance. The traditional Romanian food is definitely a must-try once in Bucharest: the tripe soup, the sarmale (stuffed cabbage rolls), or the large range of borsch dishes, as well as the mititei (grilled minced-meat rolls) are the locals' top favorites.
The Parliament Palace (People's House - Casa Poporului), which is the second largest building in the world, after the US Pentagon, is the closest thing to the idea of symbol of Bucharest. Other significant landmarks which can be identified are the Old Center, the Revolution Square and the Triumphal Arch. Some forty museums are located in Bucharest, of which the Village Museum, the Grigore Antipa Natural History Museum, the National Museum of Contemporary Art and the Cotroceni National Museum are some of the most notable. The Church of the Old Princely Court and the Stavropoleos Church are the oldest religious edifices, but once in Bucharest, one should always make time to visit two of the most beautiful parks, namely, the Cişmigiu Park and the Herăstrău Park.
The two main cultural events which place Bucharest on the cultural map of Europe are the National Opera Season and the George Enescu International Festival. The events occasioned and held under the patronage of the Museum of the Romanian Peasant and of the Village Museum take place throughout the year, honoring the contribution of the Romanian peasant to the cultural patrimony of the country. But Bucharest is also the host of an International Jazz Competition, as well as of an International Film Festival, along with other events, such as Rokolectiv and NexT.
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