Known for its wide, old boulevards, glorious Belle Époque buildings and a famous reputation for the high life (which in the 1900s earned its nickname of “Little Paris”), Bucharest, Romania’s largest city and capital, is today a bustling metropolis.
Buzzing with crowds and traffic from early morning until late at night, this area is one of the most popular meeting places in Bucharest. The square brings together some remarkable architectural masterpieces on each of its four corners: the Bucharest University of Architecture, the Bucharest National Theater, the neoclassical Coltea Hospital and its lovely church (1702-1794) and the Sutu Palace, now home of the Bucharest History Museum.
In the middle of the square, on a little island, 10 stone crosses pay respect to those killed during the 1989 revolution. Below the square there is an underground passage with shops and restaurants, allowing pedestrians to cross from one side of the square to another and to access the subway station.
Perhaps the city’s unique charm can be best observed in the area known as Lipscani, which consists of a jumble of streets between Calea Victoriei, Blvd. Bratianu, Blvd. Regina Elisabeta and the Dambovita River. A once glamorous residential area, the old city centre is now slowly being refashioned into an upscale neighborhood.
At the beginning of 1400s, most merchants and craftsmen – Romanian, Austrian, Greek, Bulgarian, Serbian, Armenian and Jewish – established their stores and shops in this section of the city. Soon, the area became known as Lipscani, named after the many German traders from Lipsca or Leiptzig. The mix of nationalities and cultures is reflected in the different architectural styles: baroque, neoclassical, art nouveau. Today, the area is home to many art galleries, antique shops and coffee houses.
At the centre of the historic area there are the remains of the Old Princely Court, built in the 15th century by Vlad Tepes, also known as Vlad Dracula. According to local lore, Vlad kept his prisoners in dungeons which commenced beneath the Princely Court and extended under the city. All that remains today are a few walls, arches, tombstones and a Corinthian column.
We invite you, at the end of the tour, to enjoy a pint of beer or a glass of lemonade at Manuc’s Inn. Built between 1804 and 1808 by the wealthy Armenian trader Emanuel Marzaian (called by the Turks, Manuc Bey), the inn was witness of the preliminary talks of the Peace Treaty that ended the Russian – Turkish War (in 1812).