ARCHITECTURE OF BUCHAREST
By Lori Verderame
Bucharest is Romania’s municipal, cultural, industrial, and financial center. It is best known for its glorious Belle Époque buildings and reputation for enjoying the high life. In the years between World war I and World war II, Bucharest earned the nickname “the Little Paris of the East.” Bucharest is the 6th largest city in the European Union and it joined the EU in 2007.
Belle Epoque buildings in the nation’s capital reference the rich and varied history of Bucharest. The buildings were erected against the backdrop of the lovely Dambovita River which is a small northern tributary of the Danube. Bucharest is located 43 miles north of the Danube and it is the transportation hub of Eastern Europe.
Calea Victoriei or Victory Avenue is Bucharest’s oldest street, built in 1692. Renamed in 1878 after the Romanian war of Independence, Victory Avenue is home to the beautiful buildings that were modeled after the Belle Epoque buildings constructed for the Paris world’s fair of 1900.
Belle Epoque (French for "Beautiful Era") was a time of peace and prosperity which saw a flourishing of the arts and culture. This golden age featured buildings in Bucharest such as the Romanian Atheaneum which is home to the Athenaeum Cultural Society and a temple of Romanian arts and culture. Built in 1886 by Albert Galleron, it boasts 800 seats and fine acoustics. It is the site of the famous George Enescu Classical Music Festival.
The museum dedicated to Enescu (1881-1955) is also located on Victoria Avenue. It is one of the most famous buildings of the early 20th Century in the bustling Romanian city. It features wrought iron railings, organic and biomorphic masonry work likened to that of buildings found in Barcelona and Paris of the same period. T
The Savings Bank Palace was built in 1897-1900 by architect, Paul Gottereau. The Savings Bank Palace was the headquarters of Romania’s oldest bank, established in 1864. The King, Carol I laid the cornerstone.
A last historic, early 20th Century structure in Bucharest is the Arcul de Triump or Arch de Triomphe like the famous one in Paris. The Romanian arch was originally built of wood in 1922 and later, rebuilt in Deva granite in 1936. The interior staircase provides panoramic views of the city and serves as a war memorial to those who served in the World War I battles in the Romanian service.
Bucharest is a fascinating and busy capital city of Romania with impressive buildings from the early years of the 1900s.
Dr. Lori Verderame is an author, award winning TV personality and professional art and antiques appraiser. Visit DrLoriVcom for more information.