Address: Bucharest, Calea 13 Septembrie 1, Intrarea A3
Tel: (21) 311.36.11
Hours: Mon. – Sun.
10:00am – 4:00pm
(English guided tour available)
Built by Communist Party leader, Nicolae Ceausescu, the colossal Parliament Palace (formerly known as the People’s Palace) is the second largest administrative building in the world after the Pentagon. It took 20,000 workers and 700 architects to build. The palace boasts 12 stories, 1,100 rooms, a 328-ft-long lobby and four underground levels, including an enormous nuclear bunker.
When construction started in 1984, the dictator intended it to be the headquarters of his government. Today, it houses Romania’s Parliament and serves as an international conference centre. Built and furnished exclusively with Romanian materials, the building reflects the work of the country’s best artisans.
A guided tour takes visitors through a small section of dazzling rooms, huge halls and quarters used by the Senate (when not in session). The interior is a luxurious display of crystal chandeliers, mosaics, oak paneling, marble, gold leaf, stained-glass windows and floors covered in rich carpets.
The Arch of Triumph
(Arcul de Triumf)
Address: Bucharest, Piata Arcul de Triumf
Arcul de Triumf is a triumphal arch located in the northern part of Bucharest, on the Kiseleff Road.
The first, wooden, triumphal arch was built hurriedly, after Romania gained its independence (1878), so that the victorious troops could march under it. Another temporary arch was built on the same site, in 1922, after World War I, which was demolished in 1935 to make way for the current triumphal arch, which was inaugurated in September 1936.
The current arch has a height of 27 metres and was built after the plans of the architect Petre Antonescu (architect (ro). It has as its foundation a 25 x 11.50 metres rectangle. The sculptures with which the facades are decorated were created by famous Romanian sculptors such as Ion Jalea and Dimitrie Paciurea. Nowadays, military parades are held beneath the arch each 1 December, with the occasion of Romania’s national holiday.
Address: Str. Benjamin Franklin 1
Tel: (21) 315.00.26 or 315.25.67
The work of French architect Albert Galleron, who also designed the National Bank of Romania, the Athenaeum was completed in 1888, financed almost entirely with money donated by the general public. One of the preeminent public fundraising campaigns ever in Romania, the “Give a penny for the Athenaeum” campaign saved the project after the original patrons ran out of funds. With its high dome and Doric columns, the Athenaeum resembles an ancient temple.
The lobby has a beautifully painted ceiling decorated in gold leaf, while curved balconies cascade in ringlets off a spiral staircase. A ring of pink marble columns
is linked by flowing arches where elaborate brass lanterns hang like gems from a necklace. Inside the concert hall, voluptuous frescoes cover the ceiling and walls. Renowned worldwide for its outstanding acoustics, it is Bucharest’s most prestigious concert hall and home of the Romanian George Enescu Philharmonic.
A temple of Romanian art and culture, at its 120th anniversary, the Romanian Atheneum remains not just a building of universal value, architecturally representative for Romania and the Balkans, but also a symbol of the spiritual tradition of a whole nation. And even if its founders, architects, and constructors never dreamed that the circular form would be ideal for an architectural monument (there were voices raised at the time who criticized the unusual technical solution), time has granted the inheritors of the ancient Dacian culture a place which has become a turning stage, not just of history but also of the arts in the European context. The Romanian Atheneum has widely opened its doors to enlightened minds in the whole world who came to Bucharest in order to meet the native people at the mouth of the Danube. And although it was the dream of its founders that all related arts find their home under the cupola of this cultural forum, it seems that just a few have realized that the exceptional acoustics of the building offer the natural climate in which only music can thrive, and so the Atheneum became the home for the great musical personalities and talents of the world. To give a concert on the stage of the Romanian Atheneum in Bucharest, is equivalent today with singing at the Scala Theatre in Milan. The temple in the heart of the Romanian Capital, built 120 years ago, has become the everlasting calling card of contemporary Romania.
Village Museum Bucharest
Address: Sos. Kiseleff 28-30
Tel: (21) 317.91.03
Open: Mon. 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.;
Tue. – Sun. 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Founded by royal decree in 1936, this fascinating outdoor museum, the largest in Europe, covers some 30 acres on the shores of Lake Herastrau in Herestrau Park. It features a collection of 50 buildings representing the history and design of Romania’s rural architecture. Steep-roofed peasant homes, thatched barns, log cabins, churches and watermills from all regions of the country were carefully taken apart, shipped to the museum and rebuilt in order to recreate the village setting. Throughout the year, the Village Museum hosts special events where you will have a chance to witness folk artisans demonstrating traditional skills in weaving, pottery and other crafts. Folk arts and crafts are available at the museum gift shop.
Location: Transylvania – Central Romania
Nearby large town: Brasov (16 miles northeast)
Nearest train station: Brasov
Address: Str. Traian Mosoiu 24, Bran
Telephone: (268) 237.700 or 237.701
Surrounded by an aura of mystery and legend and perched high atop a 200-foot-high rock, Bran Castle owes its fame to its imposing towers and turrets as well as to the myth created around Bram Stocker’s Dracula.
Built on the site of a Teutonic Knights stronghold dating from 1212, the castle was first documented in an act issued by Louis I of Hungary on November 19, 1377, giving the Saxons of Kronstadt (Brasov) the privilege to build the Citadel.
Although Stoker never visited Transylvania, the Irish author relied on research and his vivid imagination to create the dark and intimidating stomping ground of Count Dracula, leading to persistent myths that it was once the home of Vlad Tepes, ruler of Walachia. While the association with Dracula is sketchy at best, the castle continues to hold a strong attraction for all fans of the Count.
From 1920 to 1957 Bran served as royal residence, a gift of the people of Brasov to Queen Marie of Romania. The castle is now a museum open to tourists, displaying art and furniture collected by Queen Marie.
Narrow winding stairways lead through some 60 timbered rooms, many connected by underground passages, which house collections of furniture, weapons and armor dating from the 14th to the 19th centuries. The castle overlooks the picturesque village of Bran, which offers an open-air Ethnographic Museum consisting of old local-style village houses complete with furniture, household objects and costumes.
Nearby attractions: Rasnov Fortress (7 miles); Brasov (16 miles); Peles Castle in Sinaia (35 miles); the ski resorts in Poiana Brasov (10 miles) and Predeal (15 miles); the medieval cities of Sighisoara (88 miles) and Sibiu (96 miles); Bucharest (110 miles).
Location: Sinaia – Southern Romania
Nearby large towns: Brasov (40 miles north), Bucuresti (80 miles south)
Nearby main attractions: Bran (Dracula’s) castle (30 miles north-west),
Brasov (40 miles north)
Nearest train station: Sinaia
Nestled at the foot of the Bucegi Mountains in the picturesque town of Sinaia, Peles Castle is a masterpiece of German new-Renaissance architecture, considered by many one of the most stunning castles in Europe.
Commissioned by King Carol I in 1873 and completed in 1883, the castle served as the summer residence of the royal family until 1947. Its 160 rooms are adorned with the finest examples of European art, Murano crystal chandeliers, German stained-glass windows and Cordoba leather-covered walls.
The furniture in the Music Room is carved of teak, a gift to King Carol I from the Maharajah of Kapurtala in India, while handmade silk embroideries adorn the ceiling and walls of the Turkish Salon. The ceiling paintings and decorative frescoes in the Theater Hall were designed by the renowned Austrian artists Gustav Klimt and Frantz Matsch. Over 4,000 European and Oriental pieces dating from the 15th to the 19th centuries are on display in the armories.
King Ferdinand, who succeeded Carol I, commissioned the smaller, art nouveau-style Pelisor Castle nearby. Pelisor’s 70 rooms feature a unique collection of turn-of-the century Viennese furniture and Tiffany and Lalique glassware.
Also worth exploring in town is Sinaia Monastery, founded by Prince Mihai Cantacuzino in 1695, and named after the great Sinai Monastery on Mount Sinai. The monastery served as the residence of the royal family until Peles Castle was built, and now is home to a monastic establishment.
Sinaia, a well-known ski resort, and the surrounding towns of Busteni, Azuga and Predeal provide many facilities for an active vacation – from ski and hiking trails to wildlife viewing.
Rasnov Fortress (28 miles); Bran Castle (35 miles); Brasov (40 miles); the ski resorts in Predeal (14 miles) and Poiana Brasov (35 miles); Bucharest (78 miles); the medieval cities of Sighisoara (88 miles) and Sibiu (105 miles).
Through May 12, 2013
Wed.: 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.;
Thu. – Sun.: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.;
Mon. & Tue.: Closed
May 14, 2013 to September 15, 2013
Tue. – Sun.: 9:00am – 5:00pm;
Note: Peles Castle is closed during the entire month of November
Targoviste was the capital of Southern Romania in the medieval centuries before Bucharest achieved this status. The princely court was mentioned starting with 1417-1418 in a document of Michael the 1st, the son of Prince Mircea the Old who built here a church in 1415. During this initial stage, the fortress was rather small, surrounded by a wooden defense wall. It’s Vlad Dracul who extended and modernized the court to the standards of a princely residence, fortified against enemy attacks.
His son, the famous Vlad the Impaler built around 1460 the Tower of Chindia, restored hundreds of years later to its current look, a 27 meters high tower with three floors connected by a winding staircase, plus an open terrace on the last level. The tower hosts today an exhibition focused on the life and reign of Vlad the Impaler.
Chindia Tower is the symbol of the princely court of Targoviste. A view from the tower’s balcony will give you a panoramic perspective over the entire court, especially on the ruins of the two princely palaces — from the 16th century and the 17th century — you can explore afterward. From the balcony, you can also observe the contour of the church dated back to 1415.
Targoviste’s small zoo, in the park just north of the Princely Court, is surprisingly comprehensive, with some large cats, a hippo, lots of chimps and a variety of other animals. The zoo shows obvious signs of wear and tear, but the animals appear adequately cared for. Kids will love how close you can come to the animals.
The Princely Court was built in the 14th century for Mircea cel Bătrân (Mircea the Old) and remained a formal residence for Wallachia’s princes, including Vlad Ţepeş, until the reign of Constantin Brâncoveanu (r 1688–1714). Much of the court lies in ruin, though the 27m-high Sunset Tower (Turnul Chindiei) – the symbol of the city – has a museum exhibition. Another highlight is the cathedral.
Just north of the Sunset Tower is a lovely park for strolling. Each of the Wallachian princes gets his own bust here, but the biggest prize is reserved for Vlad Ţepeş, who merits a big, suitably dramatic statue in the centre of the park – a great photo op.