Bucharest is the capital of Romania and the largest city of the country. It is the only city which has a population of over one million. Moreover, it is one of the most renowned cultural and social centers of Romania, along with some cities in the western part of the country.
If compared to other major European cities, Bucharest has a short history, but this doesn’t set it back to be one of the most important capitals of the continent. Despite its history is of short span, just over 500 years, a large number of beautiful and at the same time very important structures and sites are situated here.
A good evidence of this is that Bucharest is often referred to as “Little Paris” or “Paris of the East”. If the systematization of the late dictator didn’t imply the destruction of many historical structures, today many more attractions would be in the city. Luckily, many notable structures came through this mindless plan.
Today more than 2.5 million people live in the metro area of the city. Most of them live inside the proper city borders. This way Bucharest is the sixth largest city in the EU, with an estimated population of slightly less than two million. This gives the city an international character, because there are large communities of other nationalities. However, Bucharest was an important city in Europe for many years; since 1812 five treaties were signed here, which had influence on the political and economical life of the whole continent.
Bucharest has a continental climate, like all the cities on the Romanian Plain. Characteristics of this type of climate are the hot summers and cold winters. Most of the precipitation in the city is in form of rainstorms. During the winter months, the average temperature is between -5 and 3 °C, while from May to September the average low is over 10 °C. These months are the hot ones, especially the summer ones, with average highs over 25 °C. However, it is not uncommon to experience temperatures over 35 °C in the downtown area.
Bucharest is formed of six sectors. The city is a municipality and on the same level in terms of administration as a county. These sectors were connected to the city over the years, so they were developing independently and this means that different architectural styles are found in each, motivating everyone for a city tour.
Maybe the best-known landmark of the city is the Palace of the Parliament, originally called the House of the Republic. This is a gigantic building, which is featured in the Guinness Book of World Records. The size of it is the reason why it holds three world records: it is both the largest and most expensive civilian building (only the Pentagon is larger, but that is considered a military building) and the heaviest one. The area of this palace is just less than 65,000 square meters; it has a dozen stories, being built of one million cubic meters of marble, thousand of tones of crystal and almost one million cubic meters of wood. The size of this structure will simply zap you. It’s also important to note that it’s not even finished.
Because the building of this palace implied the destruction of several important historical buildings, some consider it just an instance of megalomania. This is not the case of the Esplanada City Center. This is a purposed network of eight skyscrapers and a mall, which has a large surrounding green area. When it will be finished it will be one of the largest shopping, entertainment and leisure areas in the world, and for sure the largest in Europe.
Besides the large buildings, nature is also a priority of the city governance and this is the reason why Bucharest has one of the largest and best-maintained green areas in Europe. Beside the numerous public parks, several lakes are also situated in the city. The three major ones are Lake Colentina, Lake Floreasca and Lake Tei. Of course, beside these the smaller ones are also very popular, like the Herastrau Park. This is located around the lake with the same name and features an annual flower exhibition and numerous fountains.
The cultural life of the city doesn’t have a theme like most of the Romanian cities, which have their cultural life structured around the regional properties. Instead, it has some qualities of Romania’s every region. Because of this, the city has a varied and rich cultural life, which matches the one of Paris or London. A very large number of museums, music venues and theaters are present in the city. Because of this, despite the large area of the city, you can visit numerous cultural and social attractions without walking your feet off. Of course, this doesn’t mean that it’s not worth to take longer journeys to explore a larger part of Bucharest.
Moreover the surrounding areas of the city are also very popular among tourists because there are many resorts and activities available. The areas around the capital are perfect places for one-day trips to learn more about the life of rural Romanians. Numerous small villages are adjacent to Bucharest, where the heritages are well preserved. This lifestyle even inspired Hollywood productions, such as the parody-documentary Borat, which featured several scenes shot in the Romanian village of Glad.
The music scene of the city is also a varied one. Numerous bands popularize many different genres. Besides the mainstream musicians, countless amateur singers have concerts and play at various events, like festivals, sporting days or performances held in malls. The blues and jazz music scene shows a fast growth, while the main genres are the trance, rock and metal as well as the alternative-punk. Many of the artists from around the country come to the city because of the opportunities offered here and some even become known internationally. Such bands are the Zdob si Zdub, playing a mix of hip-hop, punk and gypsy music, Vita de Vie, a well-known alternative-rock band, and Parazitii, one of the best-known rap bands of the country. All of these bands are regular performers at numerous festivals around Europe. Another music style is also very popular in Bucharest. This is the manele, which is a local copy of Turkish music with Indian influences and it’s mostly performed by goops and it describes the rural life. Because it lacks originality and quality, it didn’t gain considerable international success.
Bucharest being the largest city of the country, it has a leading nightlife scene as well. Here you can find a spot to spend your night at, no matter what you like. Traditional drinking holes and bars you can find everywhere in a few block radius. Numerous dance clubs and nightclubs are also very popular among the party-goers. The luxury lounges are also present, even if in small numbers. The variety of music played in different locals and the variety of styles and prices make this city one of the best places in Eastern Europe in terms of nightlife.
The numerous buildings with great historical value, the numerous shopping and entertainment centers, the largest building in the world – the Palace of the Parliament – and the numerous parks make Bucharest a major holiday destination, becoming more and more popular among international tourists each year.