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Bucharest (population 2.3 million, Romanian: Bucureşti) is the capital city and industrial and commercial centre of Romania, located in the southeast of the country, on the Dāmboviţa river.

Seal of Bucharest
Location of Bucharest in Romania
 - Metropolitan
 - Total
 - Water

228 km2
1,521 km2
? km2
 - Total (2002)
 - Density

Mayor Traian Băsescu (outgoing)
Time zone Eastern Europe: GMT+2


44° 25' N;
26° 06'E



Along a small tributary of Dāmboviţa, named Colentina, several lakes stretch across the city, the most important being Lake Floreasca, Lake Tei and Lake Colentina. In addition, in the center of the capital there is a small artificial lake - Lake Cişmigiu. Surrounded by gardens and parks, it has a rich history, as it was frequented by famous poets and writers.

The city has a total surface of 226 km2 and it is divised in 6 administrative sectors.

Until recently, the regions surrounding Bucharest were largely rural areas, but after 1989, new suburbs started to be built around Bucharest, in Ilfov county.


Main article: History of Bucharest

The legend says that Bucharest was founded by a shepherd named Bucur , another variant, more likely, is that it was established by Mircea cel Bătrân in the 14th century after a victory won over the Turks (bucurie means joy in Romanian, for this reason Bucharest is often called "The City of Joy.").

Like most ancient cities of Romania, its foundation has also been ascribed to the first Walachian prince, the half-mythical Radu Negru (1290-1314). More modern historians declare that it was originally a fortress, erected on the site of some Daco-Roman settlements, then it was used to command the approaches to Târgovişte, formerly the capital of Walachia.

Bucharest is first mentioned under its present name as a residence in 1459 of the Walachian prince Vlad Ţepeş (Vlad the Impaler). It soon became the summer residence of the court. In 1595 it was burned by the Turks; but, after its restoration, continued to grow in size and prosperity, until, in 1698, Prince Constantin Brāncoveanu chose it for his capital and of the united provinces of Walachia and Moldavia from February 1859 (renamed Romania in December 1861 while still nominally subject to the Ottoman Empire).

During the 18th century the possession of Bucharest was frequently disputed by the Turks, Austrians and Russians. In 1812 it gave its name to the treaty by which Bessarabia and a third of Moldavia were ceded to Russia. In the war of 1828 it was occupied by the Russians, who made it over to the prince of Walachia in the following year. A rebellion against Prince Bibescu in 1848 brought both Turkish and Russian interference, and the city was again held by Russian troops in 1853-1854. On their departure an Austrian garrison took possession and remained till March 1857. In 1858 the international congress for the organization of the Danubian principalities was held in the city; and when, in 1861, the union of Walachia and Moldavia was proclaimed, Bucharest became the Romanian capital. Alexander John Cuza, the first ruler of the united provinces, was driven from his throne by an insurrection in Bucharest in 1866.

In the second half of the 19th century, the population of the city increased dramatically. The extravagant architecture and cosmopolitan high culture of this period won Bucharest the nickname of The Paris of the East (or Little Paris, "Micul Paris"), with Calea Victoriei as its Champs Elysées or Fifth Avenue, but the social divide between rich and poor was described at the time by Ferdinand Lassalle as "a savage hotchpotch."

On December 6 1916 the city was occupied by the German forces, the capital being moved to Iaşi, but it was liberated in November 1918, becoming the capital of the new united Kingdom of Romania.

Bucharest suffered heavy loses during WWII due to the English and American bombardments. On November 8 1945, the king's day, the communists suppressed pro-monarchist rallies.

During Nicolae Ceauşescu's leadership, most of the historical part of the city, including old churches, was destroyed, to be replaced with the grandomanic socialist buildings of the Centru Civic, notably the Palace of the Parliament. Some historic districts remain, but many argue whether Bucharest is really the Paris of the East today.

After the year 2000, due to the advent of Romania's economic boom, the city has modernised and many historical areas have been restored to their former glory.

Treaties signed in Bucharest

  1. May 28 1812, at the end of the Russian-Turkish war, Romania losses Bessarabia
  2. March 3 1886, at the end of the war between Serbia and Bulgaria
  3. August 10 1913, at the end of the Second Balkan War (see: Treaty of Bucharest, 1913)
  4. August 4 1916, the treaty of alliance between Romania and Entente (France, England, Russia and Italy)
  5. May 6 1918, the treaty between Romania and the Central Powers, which was never ratified

(see: Treaty of Bucharest, 1918)


The population greatly increased in the last two centuries with Bucharest growing importance, partialy due to urbanization of Romanians, who, until the 19th century were mostly farmers, predominantly living in rural areas.

  • 1800: 32,000
  • 1859: 122,000
  • 1900: 282,000
  • 1918: 383,000
  • 1930: 639,000
  • 1966: 1,452,000
  • 2000: 2,300,000
  • 2003: 2,082,000 (official census statistics) + 50,000 commuters

The life expectancy of Bucharest in 2000-2002 was 73.1 years, around 2 years higher than the Romanian average.


Although it accounts for around 9% of Romania's population, Bucharest produces around 21% of the country's GDP, being obviously the most developed area and industrialized area of Romania. The weak status of the Romanian leu in international exchange rates makes it difficult to compare economic product of Bucharest to that of the European Union countries. Based on local purchasing power, Bucharest has per capita GDP about about 50% that of the EU, nearly twice the Romanian average (but still very close to other urban areas in the rest of Romania). [1] . Based on the fact that Bucharest produces around 21% of Romanian GDP for a population of around 2 milion, the GDP (PPP) per capita would be US$16,300. [2]


Main article: Mass transit in Bucharest

Bucharest boasts the largest transport network in Romania, and one of the largest in the Central and Eastern Europe region. Transport can be divided into three major fields:

  • A metro (subway) system, run by Metrorex
  • A surface transport system run by RATB that is made up of buses, trams, trolleybuses and high-speed trams (light-metro).
  • A private taxi system

Getting to and from Bucharest


TAROM, the national air carrier, has good flights from a large variety of world cities, including Paris, Madrid, Munich and Rome, to Henri Coandă Airport (formerly Otopeni), the main international airport. Also, other private Romanian airlines operate from Băneasa and Coandă Airports.

See also Angel Airlines.


Main article:Căile Ferate Române

Train services into and out of Romania are of very high quality, especially those trains that are operated by Romanian railways, Hungarian railways or Polish railways. There are quality EuroCity and EuroNight trains to Budapest via Arad, as well as to Belgrade via Timişoara.Quality Intercity and Rapid trains service all major cities in Romania. Tickets are inexpensive by Western standards. In contrast to these are the daily commuters trains (Personal) that are very slow, crowded and inconfortable. Avoid these at all cost.

Sights & Landmarks

Palatul Parlamentului

The Palace of the Parliament was built by the communist dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu (then known as the Palace of the People) and it is the second biggest building in the world after the Pentagon.

A House in Bucharest's Village Museum
A House in Bucharest's Village Museum

The Village Museum

Established in 1936, the Village Museum is an open air ethnographical museum, extended on 10 hectares, containing 272 authentic buildings and peasant farms from all over Romania.

Arcul de Triumf

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, after World War I. The current arch was built in 1935.

Cişmigiu Gardens

The Cişmigiu Gardens were built as a public garden in the center of Bucharest in 1847 after the plans of the German architect Carl F.W. Meyer.

National Museum of Art

See main article National Museum of Art of Romania.

Located in the former royal palace, the museum features notable collections of medieval and modern Romanian art, as well as the international collection assembled by the Romanian royal family. The modern Romanian collection features sculptures by Constantin Brâncuşi and Dimitrie Paciurea.

Museum of the Romanian Peasant

See main article Museum of the Romanian Peasant A beautifully displayed collection of textiles (especially costumes), icons, ceramics, and other artifacts of Romanian peasant life. This institution received the "European Museum of the Year 1996" prize.

Other landmarks

  • The Romanian Athenaeum (Ateneu Român)
  • The Museum of Romanian History
  • The Museum of Art Collections
  • Herăstrău Park , site of the Village Museum
  • Botanical Garden
  • University Square
  • Lipscani area, including Manuc's Inn (Hanul lui Manuc ) and the Old Court (Curtea Veche )
  • Zambaccian Museum
  • Theodor Pallady Museum
  • Kretzulescu Palace
  • Cotroceni Palace
  • Obor Market (Piaţa Obor)

See also a more comprehensive list of buildings in Bucharest.


Supermarket chains

Shopping in Bucharest is very affordable and of a considerably high quality. For food and necessities shopping, see Supermarkets in Romania.

Shopping centers

The biggest shopping centers in Bucharest are Cora [3] , Carrefour, Bucharest Mall and Unirea shopping center .

Ethnic artifacts

The Museum of the Romanian Peasant has a very notable store, offering artifacts such as textiles, musical instruments, and painted eggs.


The first Romanian higher education institution was opened in 1694 (the Academy of Saint Sava), and in 1864 the Bucharest University was established; today there are 21 higher education institutes with nearly 100,000 students in the capital.

Colleges and Universities

Sports Teams

Football (soccer)

See also

Portrayal in film and fiction

  • The American-produced Romanian-language documentary Children Underground (2000) [4] portrays the lives of homeless children in Bucharest.
  • The Romanian-language film Filantropica ("Philanthropy", 2002) [5] gives a satiric portrayal of the city and of many strata of its life.
  • The English-language film The Wild Dogs (2002) [6] gives a more uniformly bleak portrait of the city.

External links

Official sites

  • Bucharest: Official administration site
  • RATB (Public Transport Company) website

City guides

  • Travel information on Bucharest at Wikitravel
  • In Your Pocket guide (also a downloadable PDF guide )
  • Bucharest Travel Guide - locations tested and recommended

Last updated: 02-08-2005 16:39:37
Last updated: 02-24-2005 14:41:11