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Travel Destinations for this August – Bucharest, Romania

Romania’s capital used to be called the ‘Paris of the Balkans‘ towards the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th due in large part to the French-inspired architecture, overall city planning and the fact that French was the foreign language spoken by anyone who was anyone or had aspirations of making it into the upper echelons of society.
Unfortunately fifty years of Communist rule and Soviet-style building projects have left their mark upon the city however there are still parts of the city where that ‘Paris’ still exists.

Nowadays Bucharest is divided neatly into two parts by the Dimbovita River and is a rather eclectic mix of parks, lakes, religious and secular buildings, various types of monuments and squares all bundled together with all sorts of Western-style eateries, nightspots and clubs thrown in.

A good portion of what used to be Bucharest was demolished and reconfigured in order to build what is now Palatul Parlamentului – Parliament’s Palace – this immense building was meant to become the headquarters for the Communist Party and other types of government offices but it now houses the country’s democratically elected government. It is actually the second largest government building in the world, being second only to the Pentagon and as such it is probably the first thing that you will have to see while in Bucharest.

A similarly important governmental building which one must see while in the city is Palatul Cotroceni – Cotroceni Palace – this is the President’s official residence and it’s a rather royal looking building to start with.

However the ‘old center’ is where you get your best idea of what Bucharest used to look like at the beginning of the century and why it was called the Paris of the Balkans. In that part of town you will find narrow cobblestoned streets which retain the names of the old guilds that used to inhabit them as well as a bunch of 19th century buildings which are now home to hotels, clubs and other miscellaneous shops.

One place where the city does not disappoint in regards to Western standards is its nightlife; the Lipscani District especially comes alive at night due to its many nightclubs and bars and during the day it is a great avenue of street bazaars and artisans in small shops.

Photo by: worldcitypics



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