Bucharest, the city of bookstores and more!
From July 4 to 8 I was in Bucharest, Romania taking part in ZEUS project by Solaris FZU as a representative from the German organization, where I am currently volunteering.
(If you want to know more about the project ZEUS, please see here!)
Ohhh, Bucharest!!! I am totally in love with this city full of bookstores, history and mixed architecture.
ZEUS project has been absolutely wonderful for me, as it relates to the topics in the range of my interests and profession. I graduated from the department of Linguistics and Communication (specialized in the British Area Studies) in Yerevan, Armenia, and the ZEUS project is all about communication.
During this particular project workshop the topic was basics of Neuro-linguistic programming. I will not go into the details of the project, but you can read a wonderful article about what we were doing during ZEUS project in Bucharest here! In this blog I will be mainly telling about my impressions of Bucharest, the city of bookstores and much more!
The first impression from Bucharest is perplexing; you are driving towards the inner city and see Bucharest’s Arch of Triumph, which reminds you of Berlin and Paris. Then you see more buildings similar to the ones in Paris, and remember that once Bucharest was called “Little Paris”. By advancing towards the city you see Soviet architecture mingled with the buildings from 16th-, 17th-, and 18th-centuries, dilapidated facades with huge posters of the Kardashians, Coca Cola and more of a capitalistic world expressions.
One of the main sights I was rushing to see in Bucharest was the bookstore Cărturești Carusel. We decided to go to that bookstore the next day after arrival in order to spend more time there. In the evening of the arrival day on the way to the old city to grab food and drinks through the busy street of restaurants, bars and cafes, where there is the tradition of waiters standing outside and calling the potential customers to choose their service (it reminded me of Tbilisi), we accidentally appeared in the amazing, fairytale bookstore, which we were planning to go to the next day and which was still open at 09:30 pm. So is the Bucharest: the fairytale bookstore can be right next to the crazy night clubs and can be open until 10 pm. I couldn’t hide my admiration and happiness in the bookstore embracing all the books of the White bookstore with my eyes. This was my first, but not the last visit to this “heaven of books”. I was going there every day several times during my stay in Bucharest and always mistakenly calling the bookstore “a library” (so huge is it). In general, Bucharest is full of amazing big bookstores, which have wide range of Romanian as well as English books, lots of book souvenirs and bookmarks. I have bought several books from different bookstores as well as for the first time in my life I saw a specialized Military Library.
Bucharest is also full of big and green parks, where one can have a walk or just sit and relax for hours. I was at Cismigiu Gardens enjoying the greenness and sounds of birds and trees of the park.
When in Bucharest, one should know the history of Romania as well as the name of Nicolae Ceausescu, the president of Communist Romania, who ordered the construction of one of the most touristic places in Bucharest- the Palace of the Parliament. It is the world's second-largest administrative building (after the Pentagon) as well as the heaviest building in the world. Over 13 years more than 20,000 workers and 700 architects worked on this Neoclassical-style palace. There was no time for me to be inside the building, but I witnessed its might from outside feeling very small when being beside such a tremendous construction. Instead I was in Ceausescu Mansion, communist leader’s former house, which is currently a museum. I have never seen such a “house” in my life. When most of the people under the communist regime used to live a very humble life, their leaders were not living worse than millionaire capitalists of our times. This house-museum made me think that the history always repeats itself and that everything goes in circles. Luxury interior, paintings, gifts, fountains, “golden” and “rose” bathrooms, a pool made of thousands of tiles, expensive clothes and shoes and much more. Most of the items in the house had picture of peacocks on them, which are the symbol of power and strength. There were also real peacocks in the house-museum, which are the generation of the peacocks Nicolae Ceausescu used to keep when he and his family lived in this house. This house, which can be a dream or reality for some people, seemed to be very sad and oppressive for me, like a real “golden jail”.
Next destination was Romanian Athenaeum. It is home to the George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra and is the city's most prestigious concert hall. The 19th-century building, designed by French architect Albert Galleron, resembles an ancient Greek temple. You can read more about the Romanian Athenaeum and other sights in Bucharest here! I was admiring the interior of the concert hall- huge fresco, rich red seats, decorated ceilings- dreaming of being present at a concert there one day in my life.
Being a big admirer of sacral architecture, I always try to visit religious buildings in every city. Bucharest was no exception. I visited Stavropoleos Church, which was built in 1724 by a Greek monk. The Orthodox church is a combination of Romanian and Byzantine elements. Bucharest Russian Church is also very impressive. This church was very special and holy for me and I will always remember my sensation and feelings inside this church.
I went to the Russian church through the University Square of Bucharest, which has a couple of statues of prominent people in Romania’s history. Usually I don’t like statues and never take pictures of them in new cities, but this range of statues was somehow very attractive and spectacular.
Bucharest has nice and interesting restaurants full of very delicious national dishes. I will not go into details about restaurants and food, as it’s already 2:00 am, when I am writing this blog and also getting hungry :D But when in Bucharest try Polenta and different lemonades for sure!
Guten Appetit when there in Bucharest, good night and thanks for reading my long blog about one of the most interesting cities I have ever visited!