SIGHTSEEING Romania's checkered history is writ large on the face of its capital city, which boasts an eclectic mishmash of architectural styles and eye-catching structures. It's worth taking a while to stroll through the center of town, almost any wander will take you past some striking and attractive buildings. However, there are a few landmarks that merit being sought out. Most are on or around Calea Victoriei, one of the city's two main north-south thoroughfares, so easily visible on a walking tour.
The Athenaeum, one of Bucharest's most stunning buildings 2â€‚|â€‚BR CITY GUIDE
LANDMARKS Piata Arcul de Triumf, Sos. Kiseleff, MAP p24-25 A1
ARCH OF TRIUMPH
One of the first flagship pieces of Bucharest architecture visitors see en route into town from the airport, the current structure dates from 1936, though the site has hosted an arch since a wooden one was thrown up to commemorate Romania's independence in 1878. Soldiers still parade beneath to mark Romania's national day, and the arch is also a favorite for wedding photos.
1-3 Franklin St., opposite the Hilton Hotel, MAP p24-25 C4, p33 B2 2 Probably the city's most beautiful building, the Athenaeum is a neoclassical delight. It opened in 1888 after being made possible by public donations. Catch a concert for an opportunity to admire the fabulous fresco. CEC PALACE / THE SAVINGS BANK Calea Victoriei, opposite the History Museum, MAP p24-25 C6, p33 B4 3 Built in 1900, this must rank as one of the most attractive banks anywhere. Capped by a dome, it features an eclectic array of architectural styles and exudes Renaissance elegance. Arches, columns and spires all compete for your attention. When lit up at night it is glorious.
Enescu Museum George ENESCU MUSEUM / CANTACUZIONO PALACE Calea Victoriei 141, tel: 021 318 14 50 www.georgeenescu.ro MAP p24-25 B3 4 Romania's most famous musical son is celebrated more famously in the biannual festival, but his museum is housed in the Cantacuzino Palace, a lesser known Bucharest gem. Dating back to the early 20th century and resulting from an architectural collaboration, sculptures adorn the elegant façade, creating a truly impressive spectacle.
THE CENTRAL ARMY HOUSE
Junction of Regina Elisabeta and Calea Victoriei MAP p24-25 C5 5 Also known as Cercul Militar, this striking neo-classical structure is about to celebrate its centenary. BR CITY GUIDE | 3
SIGHTSEEING Stavropoleos Church Built to cater to the nation's soldiers, it resonates with military gravitas. Unless you're a Romanian soldier it's largely off limits, although it is sometimes possible to visit the restaurant (but don't expect the food to match the high standards of the building!).
2-4 Izvor St., tel: 021 316 03 00 MAP p24-25 B6, p33 A5 6 Though often dubbed a monstrosity and a monument to Ceausescu's megalomania, there is no denying that the dictator's vanity project, whose records include the world's largest civilian administrative building, most expensive administrative building and heaviest building, is a memorable edifice. The tour, while not matching the outside impact, is well worth taking. 4 | BR CITY GUIDE
Byzantium’s spirit is kept alive in the old churches of Bucharest, whose architecture, frescoes, altar pieces and religious sermons mirror life in Emperor Constantine’s Empire. Stavropoleos Monastery 4 Stavropoleos, www.stavropoleos.ro MAP p24-25 C6, p33 B4
Built in 1724, Stavropoleos Church is one of the most outstanding examples of the Brancoveanu style – an original baroque synthesis of Eastern and Western architecture created under Prince Constantin Brancoveanu’s reign (1688-1714). The vegetal motifs which adorn the façade and the loggia blend harmoniously with
4 Stavropoleos, www.stavropoleos.ro Within the monastery precincts is a library and a refectory displaying a small but valuable collection of old religious objects, which includes icons painted on wood and glass, religious artifacts, decorative art and fragments of fresco recovered from churches demolished during the communist regime. The monastery's library holds over 8,000 books and manuscripts, including books on theology.
Kretzulescu Church 47 Calea Victoriei MAP p24-25 C5, p33 B2
Constructed in 1722 in the same Brancoveanu style, the red-brick church was built by boyar Kretzulescu, one of Prince Brancoveanu’s sons-in-law. The exterior frescoes have been preserved in their original state, while the interior was the work of a famous 19th-century painter, Gheorghe Tattarascu.
St George the New Church Located between Pta Unirii and Universitate, marking the very center of Bucharest MAP p24-25 D6, p33 C4 9
Built by Brancoveanu himself in
1707, the church has been one of the most important buildings in the capital for almost two centuries. After several fires and earthquakes, it was rebuilt in the early 20th century based on the initial plans, with a 12-column loggia. The martyr Prince Brancoveanu is buried here.
Romanian Medieval Art Gallery
Within the National Art Museum of Romania, Calea Victoriei 49-53, www.mnar.ro MAP p24-25 C4, p33 B2 10 Holding the largest collection of its kind in Romania, the museum’s more than 9,500 works include icons, fresco fragments, embroideries and textiles, religious manuscripts and rare books, silver, jewelry, woodcarvings, metalwork and ceramics. On display is a selection of approximately 900 works, spanning five centuries of artistic achievement, from the late 14th century through to the early 19th century.
MUSEUMS Contemporary Art Museum People’s Palace, Izvor St. 2-4, wing E4, entrance from Calea 13 Septembrie, www.mnac.ro MAP p24-25 B6, p33 A5 11
Located in Ceausescu’s controversial mammoth building, the museum hosts temporary modern art exhibitions in its vast halls, which create a strange yet welcoming space. The museum holds one of the most interesting BR CITY GUIDE | 5
the interior and exterior frescoes depicting biblical scenes and the carved wood iconostasis, among which one can admire the bicephalous eagle, the emblem of Byzantium. The building gets a three-star mention in the Michelin travel guide.
communist kitsch art collections, unfortunately not on display. Although access is not very easy, it’s worth the trip since the museum’s roof terrace offers one of the best aerial views of Bucharest.
Ştefan Luchian and Constantin Brâncuşi). Contemporary pieces round out the collection. For the Medieval Art Collection, see Byzantine Bucharest.
Cotroceni Palace and Museum
Calea Victoriei 12, tel: 021 315 82 07, www.mnir.ro MAP p24-25 C6, p33 B4 13
Blv. Geniului 1, tel: 021 317 3106, www.muzeulcotroceni.ro Built between 1679 and 1681 by Prince Şerban Cantacuzino in the baroque style of the time, the Cotroceni complex served as the official residence of different rulers. Queen Mary left her unmistakable mark on Cotroceni, which bears the proof of her artistic affinities. Cotroceni is the only official residence in Romania that has been used for over four centuries, with the palace and medieval cellars still existing today.
National Art Museum (MNAR)
49-53 Calea Victoriei; tel: 021 313 30 30, www.mnar.ro MAP p24-25 C4, p33 B2 12 Besides its European Art gallery, the museum located in the Royal Palace holds the most important collection of Romanian modern art, with 8,600 paintings and 2,000 sculptures. Approximately 700 works, organized chronologically, offer an overview of the evolution of Romanian artistic trends from the early 19th century – when art in Romania became entirely secular – through to late 19th to early 20th century, the age of the great masters of national art (Nicolae Grigorescu, Ioan Andreescu, 6 | BR CITY GUIDE
National History Museum
From prehistoric times, through the gold treasury of Dacian tribes and the Roman Conquest to the modern era, the museum’s 60 halls exhibit historical artifacts, documents and art that connect us to the cradle of European civilization in the neolithyc age (6,500-3,500 BC), located on today’s Romanian territory. Some of its permanent collections might be not completely accessible, due to restoration works.
Romanian Peasant Museum Kiseleff Street 3, Sector 1; tel: 021 317 9660, 021 317 9661, www.muzeultaranuluiroman.ro MAP p24-25 B2 14
Relaunched on February 5, 1990, the Romanian Peasant Museum marks the continuation of a long tradition, which started when the first autonomous museum for peasant art was established in 1906. Currently, the venue is more than a static exhibition of somewhat exotic country life, offering a forum for creativity, urban socializing and the reinvention of lost values.
Admission is RON 6. Kiseleff Str. 28-30, sector 1
The Village Museum is an openair ethnographic museum in Herastrau Park, showcasing traditional Romanian village life. Covering over 100,000 sqm, it contains an estimated 300 authentic peasant farms and houses brought from all over Romania and reassembled bit by bit in the park, clustered and arranged to show the real pattern of Romanian villages.
PUBLIC TRANSPORT The metro system is the cheapest and easiest way to get around if you don’t know Bucharest and also the quickest, although the network is not comprehensive. It’s particularly useful for northsouth journeys along the central axis of squares, mainly Unirii to Aviatorilor. Tickets are on sale from kiosks near the ticket barriers and most trains have maps. Buses and trams are more comprehensive and frequent. You can buy electronic passes charged with a certain number of journeys which must be touched in on board; most stops have a ticket kiosk. Taxis, which are still cheap by Western standards, can be booked by phone, hailed on the street or found at taxi ranks (the most central one is located next to the Intercontinental Hotel). If you don't book, be sure to choose a reputable cab – look for the tariff displayed on the door, which should be RON 1.39 (less than 50 cents) per km. The city is now also home to several bike rental outlets 8 | BR CITY GUIDE
Bucharest City Tour
The 15 kilometer tourist route is served by four double-decker buses with a capacity of 77 seats each. Bucharest City Tour has 14 designated bus stops serving the major landmarks: the Peasant Museum, Victoria Palace, Parliament Palace, Bucharest Museum and Romanian Patriarchy. More destinations will be unveiled during the bus ride, and tickets for the tour are valid for 24 hours, allowing passengers to hop on and hop off at will. Buses on the Bucharest City Tour line run from 10:00-22:00. A doubledecker will circulate every 15 minutes, touring the capital in 50 min. A travel card costs RON 25 for adults and RON 10 for children between the ages of 7 and 14. Children under 7 accompanied by an adult travel free. The card is available for 24 hours from its first validation and can be bought on board.
SIGHTSEEING BR CITY GUIDE | 9
RESTAURANTS Business Review gives you a selection of top Bucharest restaurants. You can check the full-length versions of all the reviews by our resident restaurant critic, Michael Barclay, on our website www.business-review.ro.
49 Jean Louis Calderon St, tel: 021 317 13 55 MAP p24-25 D5 15 The oldest and most reliable fish house in town serves a wide variety of fresh fish cooked in a straight, simple, Mediterranean manner.
19 Primaverii St, tel: 021 568 30 31 MAP p24-25 B1 16 Alaskan crab ‘legs’, live lobsters, cuttlefish prawns of every size, shrimps in samphire grass and so much more are displayed on the chiller! This is the cheapest fish house in town, as it imports directly. The daily catch is listed on a blackboard. Among fish that are rarely seen in Romania (and they are on the blackboard) one can find parrot fish, ‘monkfish’, sole, turbot, red gurnard and captain fish. The Romanian version of fish soup is available, with a base of bors and lashings of dill. 10 | BR CITY GUIDE
French Bistro Epoque
17C Intrarea Aurora, Cismigiu Garden, Epoque Hotel tel: 021 313 3232 MAP p24-25 B5 17 With the two Michelin-starred chef Guy Martin behind the menu, French gastronomic creativity and quality are ensured, making the restaurant in the recently launched boutique hotel in the very heart of the city one of the best French eateries in town. The ‘cumin flavored duck liver pate’ is in itself an experience, as is the ‘milk-fed veal with green asparagus and goose liver ravioli’. The wine list is impeccable, showcasing, along with the French bottles, a top-quality selection of Romanian wines.
Cantine de Nicolai 15 Povernei St, tel: 0725 210 608 MAP p24-25 C3 18
Even if the 1960s menu is oldfashioned, whatever chef Nicolai Tand produces is perfect! Order
the ‘St Jacques (scallops) with puree potato and shaved fresh black truffle’. The scallops are grilled for a few seconds so they arrive moist, correctly undercooked and generous with five of the beauties. Or the soft, flakey, moist ‘saddle of cod’, another dish brought to perfection.
apricot trees full of fruit which occasionally drops onto your table.
With a state of the art spacious design The Loft serves food which would be at home in Paris. All dishes are beautifully presented, although the service doesn’t match their standard. Order the excellent ‘clam risotto’ cooked in true keeping with the traditional standards of fine French cuisine or the tender ‘sea bass fillet’ accompanied by a wonderful mashed (puree) potato, shaved with a generous slice of fresh truffle.
101 Toamnei St, tel: 021 201 71 33 MAP p24-25 E4 19
64 Iancu de Hunedoara entrance opposite Mega Image on Stefan Cel Mare Blv. MAP p24-25 C3 20
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In an area off Eminescu and surrounded by other restaurants (Chinese, Spanish, Indian and Mexican) this place stands out as the best with its pricy (but good) French food. It is like a bistro inside, but has a charming small terrace at the rear. L’Escargot is crowned with giant fig trees and
8 Ion Cantacuzino, tel: 0753 999 333 www.restaurantarcade.ro MAP p24-25 B1 22
Heritage restaurant's cellar
Fusion Market 8
8 Serban Petrescu, off Dorobanti Square, tel: 0734 808 080, www.market8.ro MAP p24-25 C1 21 Located in one of the posh areas of Bucharest, Dorobanti, the restaurant is one of the best designed venues in town, and the eclectic interior decoration and design mirror the imaginative flavor combinations of Asian spices and French cuisine on the menu. For starters try the ‘steamed scallops with a ginger and spring onion emulsion’, beautifully presented with three Queen scallops on a thick green bed of sauce. The ‘halibut with miso and lemon risotto’ is another perfect choice, again beautifully sculpted, with the risotto packaged in a tennis sized ball. 12 | BR CITY GUIDE
Over the last nine years Arcade has become a gastronomic institution in this town. It is best known for its fabulous location and vast summer terrace, but also for the warm, homely villa ambiance. This is a top quality, sophisticated chophouse that can compete with the best alternative restaurants in town that could cost twice the price.
19 Polona, tel: 021 210 88 50 www.heritage-restaurant.eu MAP p24-25 D4 23 Three Michelin-starred chef Juan Amador has created a new menu by combining three European cuisines: French, German and Spanish. There is a problem in describing the dishes, as Amador transforms each and every one into a work of art. Imaginative dishes such as ‘scallops, sweetbread and vanilla’ and the ‘Norwegian lobster, green apple and veal tongue’ predictably look nothing like their descriptions. The ‘lobster gazpacho’, with the vegetables being substituted for strawberries, is a must. Try also, for dessert, his signature dish, ‘Catalan cream legere with pineapple’, with a bed of chopped fresh pineapple soaked in rum and gently flavored with saffron. Oh, what an understated description this is!
Roberto's – Athenee Palace Hilton Hotel Restaurant Ginger
194 Calea Grivitei, tel: 021 223 47 15, 0752 167 703 It is on the wrong side of town, but worth the drive to get there. With an excellent array of familiar main courses priced around EUR 8, you can complement your meal with a bottle or two of Chateau Petrus 2001, a snip at just EUR 3,300. Yes, it has the finest and largest wine cellar in the entire land. At the other end of the scale, they have superb house wines starting at EUR 5.
menu, from which we recommend the ‘truffles beef’, ‘black onion beef fillet’ and ‘black mussel risotto’.
4 Alecu Russo St, tel: 021 211 28 20 www.restaurantaquarium.ro MAP p24-25 D3 24 Over the past 12 years, Aquarium has defended its reputation as one of the best Italian restaurants in Bucharest, due to its constant quality and the excellently cooked pasta and fish dishes.
16 Ion Mihalache Blv, tel: 021 311 37 50, www.osteriagioia.ro MAP p24-25 B2 25
Possibly the trendiest place on the Herastrau Lake embankment, providing a gorgeous view, Aqua offers a well-balanced Italian
What started as a family concern founded by Patrizia has evolved into one of the best Italian restaurants in town. From the starters list try the delicious ‘oven backed pancakes with Fontina
7-9 Sos Nordului, tel: 0731 888 999, www.aquachique.ro
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‘swordfish beccafico’ (a Palermo dish usually served with nut and vegetable stuffed sardines) and ‘calamari panzanella’ (a combo of bread, olives, garlic, balsamic, onion, tomato and basil). Matching the impeccable interior is the usual impeccable service from the impeccable staff.
Teppan cooking at Benihana cheese and porcini mushrooms’. However, the menu’s forte is its pastas. We recommend the sophisticated ‘taglioni with vongole clams and arugula’ or the simple ‘linguine with tomatoes and fresh basil’.
Episcopiei 1-3, Athenee Palace Hilton Hotel, tel: 021 303 37 77 www.hiltonbucharest.com/diningbars/robertos-restaurant MAP p24-25 C4 26 With a new Italian chef and a total facelift, the new Roberto’s is a delight. From the starters list don’t miss ‘ruccola and asparagus salad with two-year matured Parmesan and Taggiashe olives’ (uniquely flavored olives from the Liguria region of Italy). The House had gone to extra effort to import Italy’s unique products. The menu has many regional Italian specialties such as 16 | BR CITY GUIDE
Howard Johnson Hotel Grand Plaza 5-7 Calea Dorobantilor tel: 021 201 5030 www.hojoplaza.ro MAP p24-25 C4 27 Fabulous fun, with Asian cooks giving a real show intended to activate all your senses at the same time: eyes, smell and taste. Although not traditional Japanese, the Teppanyaki tables, which can host up to eight people, bring together those who are in love with this part of the world’s cuisine. The restaurant has one of the best sushi bars in town. This is a place that you must go!
27-29 Grigore Gafencu St, tel: 021 233 26 33 www.restaurant-maiko.ro With a sushi menu that features 146 offerings, this place serves authentically cooked Japanese food. Try the ‘nabi’ (a table cooked stew) of sliced duck breast and vegetables, accompanied by light soy sauce, sesame seeds, spring
JW Steakhouse – JW Marriott Hotel onions and soymilk... and a raw egg.
Romanian Bistro Atheneu 3 Episcopiei St, tel: 021 313 49 00 MAP p24-25 C4 28
With a classic traditional menu that includes well cooked dishes from several regions of Romania and around such as the Transylvanian specialty ‘cabbage a la Cluj’ or the southern Greek influenced ‘musaca’, this small and cozy bistro is a culinary landmark for both locals and visitors. Before dessert, for which we recommend the pumpkin pie, you can order a Turkish coffee. If you visit the Enescu Museum on Calea Victoriei, enjoy a nice Romanian lunch at the bistro’s sister restaurant, 18 | BR CITY GUIDE
La Taifas, on 16 Gh. Manu St, just around the corner.
195 Calea Mosilor, tel: 021 210 97 04 www.restaurantburebista.ro MAP p24-25 E5 29 Named after one of the brave Dacian tribes’ kings, who defe nded the land against the Roman conquest, this ethnic-looking place has one of the largest menus of Romanian dishes, including specialties such as the delicious fish eggs (‘icre’), pork skin (sorici) and last, but not least, wild boar and deer steak. In the evening, there is a live traditional music program.
4 Sos. Kiseleff, www.casadoina.ro MAP p24-25 B2 30 Without any doubt, the best Romanian food in town, with
well-balanced traditional dishes such as the excellent trout soup and the fried organic chicken with garlic sauce. At this time of year one traditionally orders as starters eggplant salad and grilled pepper salad. A household name for Romanian cuisine, the restaurant is also one of the city’s historical landmarks. The generous garden with old trees surrounds a two-storey villa (classified as an architecture monument), built in 1892 in the Romanian neo-classical style.
1930s ‘joie de vivre’ atmosphere created by the décor and the live music program. The impeccable service is another plus at this themed restaurant. The food is well judged, as is the wine list.
Pure Americana, with a selection of the best of the USA, from where all of the produce is imported, meaning you get big, big American sized portions. The steaks are aged for 21 days at 4 degrees before you get your teeth into them. This is both necessary
A place that you shouldn’t miss, mostly for its Bucharest of the
90 Calea 13 Septembrie JW Marriott Hotel, tel: 021 403 10 10
BR CITY GUIDE | 19
50-52 Georgescu St. tel 0744 240 125, 0721 961 936 www.jaristea.ro
and absolutely correct to tenderize the meat and to increase its flavor. Side dishes are chosen with the same care as the meat. The House’s steakhouse concept has been imported intact from the group’s flagship hotel, Grosvenor House in London, where it is a success.
has been lavished equally on the menu, which is based on and features quotes from the novel. And the cuisine is surprisingly good for a theme eatery, although vegetarians might be struggling. Call ahead to check what night old Vlad is doing his bit.
3 Mihai Kogalniceanu Blv, tel: 021 311 62 82 www.restaurantexcalibur.ro MAP p24-25 B5 33
19 Primaverii St, tel: 021 568 3031 www.osho-restaurant.ro MAP p24-25 B1 31 They modestly call themselves a steakhouse, but it is much, much more than that. If you enter it from the front end of the building, you will find yourself in a shop which sells all of the chophouse’s products, ‘over the counter’ at retail prices. This includes not only their extensive range of meat products, but an array of up to 20 Italian cheeses and salamis. Add to that a rich list of French and Italian fine wines, and you have a ‘deli where you can dine’.
The tavern style eatery promises victuals from the middle ages, served by appropriately attired wenches and without modern conveniences such as knives and forks, so be prepared to get thy hands dirty! The food, which is basically meaty Romanian, is humorously styled as Sir Lancelot’s Lunch and Sir Arthur’s Dinner. The big round tables are great for groups. Other outlets can be found at Str Academiei 39-41 and Str Blanari 9 (Old Town).
Count Dracula Club
Cheesy vampiric fun doesn’t get much tackier than at Count Dracula Club, which hosts twice weekly visits from the Impaler himself (well, a very amusing impersonator). The atmosphere is suitably creepy and attention
After more than 12 years of existence, still the best Turkish food in town. The largest selection of delicious kebabs and the wide range of starters are pluses that have probably helped it beat off the competition.
8A Splaiul Independentei St, tel: 021 312 13 53; www.count-dracula.ro MAP p24-25 C6 32
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18-20 Hristo Botev St, tel: 021 314 2825 www.goldenfalcon.ro MAP p24-25 D5 34
Nocturnal Bucharest thrums with an up-for-it party vibe, and visitors will have to work to keep up with the locals. The main nightlife hubs are the Old Town, Dorobanti and Lacul Tei. You'll need a cab to reach the more out-of-town venues like Bamboo and Fratelli (photo).
Clubs BOA (Beat of Angels)
32 Kiseleff Blv, tel: 0736 30 07 00 MAP p24-25 A1 35 Relatively recently opened, this is the trendiest club in town. Luxurious, with lots of space to dance, as well to relax and carry on a conversation, this is one location that shouldn’t be missed!
50 Tuzla, tel: 0726 22 62 66 www.bambooclub.ro Its reputation as the place where 22 | BR CITY GUIDE
the beautiful and rich people of Bucharest go just to see and be seen, is enough for this club to become a tourist attraction. The name of the club has become synonymous with Bucharest’s nightlife. Try and enjoy the friendly ambiance and the music, whilst ignoring the ongoing fashion and car parade that goes until the early hours of the morning.
1-3 Glodeni, Lacul Tei, tel: 0731 036 222 One of the most established names on the capital’s nocturnal scene, Fratelli embraces the lounge concept with fancy food,
drinks and good music. It hosts weekly theme parties, sometimes stages concerts and can accommodate corporate events. The place is a symbol of Bucharest’s exclusive nightlife, with standout events and unique live sound experiences.
Gaia Boutique Club
19 Str Tarmului, tel: 0723 610 933 The self-proclaimed Gorgeous, Astonishing, Irreverent and Alternative club is beloved of Bucharest’s fashion and entertainment crowd. Fashion is a way of life for the owners of the club, and this is visible in the venue’s theme parties, ranging from Veggie Vampires vs. Virgin Fairies to Japanese Funeral and Mexican Fiesta.
Kristal Glam Club
48 Soseaua Pipera, tel: 0722 795 184
11 Str Turturelelor, close to Unirii Square, tel: 021 322 66 10, 021 323 70 83 One of Bucharest’s leading live music venues, Jukebox has
Jazz Clubs Art Jazz
23A Nicolae Balcescu boulevard (below the Orizont art gallery) tel: 0731 645 918 MAP p24-25 C5, p33 C2 36 The club hosts a live jazz concert almost every night, film nights on Sundays after 19.00 and frequent book launches. It features one of the few grand pianos in Bucharest clubs. The venue has a casual feel, making it a good meeting place for friends. It can accommodate private parties.
120 Calea Victoriei, tel: 0788 452 485, 0722 234 356 p24-25 C4, p33 B1 37 Established in the mid 90s as a jazz-cafe, Green Hours hosts weekly jazz and theater nights, and sometimes alternative and classical music events. The venue, which is shared with the Green Hours café-theater, showcases all the big names of the local jazz scene as well as international performers. BR CITY GUIDE | 23
With an eight-year history and impressive list of invited superstar DJs, Kristal Glam boasts the ‘sound that aces the floor’. The venue has changed its look several times throughout its lifespan going from baroque to eclectic, minimalist to modern. It also plays host to one of the major electronic music festivals in Romania, the Sunwaves Festival, which has been recognized and awarded internationally.
hosted some of Romania’s topbands since reopening in 2009. The club features premiere sound and lightning, a purposebuilt stage with VIP overhang and three bars, placing customers never far from the stage, the bar, or both. Besides its karaoke nights, it hosts stand-up comedy and corporate events, and recently opened an all Americanstyle diner.
N. Titulescu Branch
Ch. de Gaulle Branch
UniCredit Tiriac Bank Network
Sights & Museums
3 13 32
OLD TOWN This thriving pedestrian area at the very heart of the city, with its intricate narrow streets full of small shops, terraces, cafes, bars and restaurants, is also the place where several layers of 550 years of Bucharest’s documented history overlap, conveying the image of a city in constant transformation. The 16th-century ruins of the Old Princely Court (Curtea Veche), the capital city of Wallachian princes since Vlad the Impaler (Dracula), lay in the vicinity of underground mural remains of 17th-century buildings. The archeological site on the main street of Lipscani brings to light the red-brick ruins of one of the many inns built in this area, which got its name from the town of Lipsca (Leipzig). The German city was at that time the trading partner for the local merchants and artisans who had their busy shops on what was, from the mid 16th to late 19th century, the most important commercial area of Bucharest. The narrow streets around the Old Court were named after the artisan guilds that had their workshops here (for example Selari Street). Many churches and monasteries, built in the local Brancovenesc architectural style, dot the Old Town. Also known as the town of inns, the neo-classical facades of the Lipscani buildings erected after 1850 are part of the modernization of the capital city under the rule of King Carol I. All important historical buildings constructed during this time on the ruins of old inns, from the Central Bank to the National History Museum, were designed by French and German architects. 26 | BR CITY GUIDE
Hanul cu Tei
Landmarks The Central Bank - BNR 25 Strada Lipscani St MAP p33 C4 38
Hanul lui Manuc (Manuc Inn)
62-64 Franceza St, tel: 021 313 14 11 MAP p33 C4 39 Built near the Old Princely Court by an Armenian merchant
Hanul cu Tei (The Street Inn) 63-65 Lipscani St MAP p33 C4 40
One of the few well preserved street inns, Hanul cu Tei was built in 1833 by two merchants, Anastasie Hagi Gheorghe Polizu and Ștefan Popovici, who owned several shops located over high-ceilinged cellars. Both the Lipscani and Blanari Street entrances are guarded by tall iron gates that used to be closed by night, for the safety of travelers BR CITY GUIDE | 27
Possibly the Old Town’s flagship landmark, the headquarters of BNR – Romania’s National Bank – is another neo-classical masterpiece, again with French architects at the helm. Constructed in 1885, the building boasts Corinthian columns and marble halls inside. Though its size and smartness put it somewhat at odds with ramshackle Lipscani, its grandeur is not dented.
known as Manuc Bei in 1806, the wooden inn’s open architecture, with its galleries that look upon a generous inner courtyard, was innovative for its time. Recently reopened after renovation works, the historical building today houses three restaurants, Romanian, Lebanese and Italian, and a café.
and goods. Today, the inn hosts art galleries, antique shops, cafes and restaurants.
coffee shops, a Chinese restaurant, and the Opium Stage Club.
Old Princely Court (Curtea Veche)
4 Stavropoleos St, www.stavropoleos MAP p33 B4
27-31 Franceza St, 021 314 03 75 MAP p33 C4 41 Dating back to the 15th century, the Old Princely Court is a real slice of Bucharest history. Built during the reign of Vlad III (aka Dracula), it has since undergone restoration. Hitherto overlooked as a tourist attraction, efforts to improve and promote the Old Town should see Curtea Veche gain a deserved foothold on the visitor’s map.
Vilacrosse Macca Passage
In between Calea Victoriei and Lipscani street MAP p33 B4 42
A walk through the Vilacrosse passage can take you back in time to end of the 19th century Bucharest, provided you visit it at the least crowded hours of the day. The passage, which now hosts numerous pubs and coffee shops, links Calea Victoriei to the Central Bank on Lipscani Street. The U-shaped skylight-covered passage was built in 1891 by Felix Xenopol and carries the name of Catalan architect Xavier Viacrosse, who moved to Bucharest and served as the capital’s chief architect from 1840-1850. The passage has two branches: Vilacrosse (which faces Lipscani) and Macca (name after the brother in law of the passage’s constructor). In between you can find, among others, an Egyptian-themed 28 | BR CITY GUIDE
See Sightseeing, p 4
Sutu Palace – Bucharest City Museum
2 I.C. Bratianu Blv, tel: 021 315 68 58 www.muzeulbucurestiului.ro MAP p33 C3 43 The lavish neo-Gothic style palace was built in 1832 by one of the wealthiest aristocratic families, the Sutus. Sculptor and decorator Karl Storck added a grandiose central staircase, transforming the place into a ball venue. Today it hosts the city’s museums, with a permanent urban and anthropological collection, as well as a pinacotheque which includes major Romanian and European painters.
Cuisine: Italian 2 Ion Ghica St, tel: 021 310 29 78 MAP p33 C3 44 If you are in the area and you crave a pizza or any other Italian “al forno” dish, this is the best place to go. If you are a pasta fan, than you must try their tortellini ‘al forno’ or the ‘cannelloni della nona al forno’. The fish dishes are also a specialty, as is the wide range of pizzas. Another plus is the quality of the food.
Vodafone stores in Bucharest Vodafone Sayfone Liberty 151-171 Sos. Progresului Sector 5, Liberty Mall
Vodafone Sayfone Real Berceni 67-109 Drumul Dealul Bisericii Str. Galeriile Real Berceni, Sector 4
Vodafone Sayfone Kaufland Sebastian 88 Sebastian Str. Kaufland Hypermarket, Sector 5
Vodafone Sayfone Giurgiului 127 Sos. Giurgiului, Sector 4
Vodafone Store Auchan 33A 1 Decembrie 1918 Blv. Auchan Titan Hypermarket, Sector 3 Vodafone Store Mall Baneasa 42D Sos. Bucuresti-Ploiesti Baneasa Shopping City (MediaGalaxy wing), Ist floor Vodafone Store Mihalache 107 Ion Mihalache Blv. Sector 1 Vodafone Store Maniu 160 Iuliu Maniu Str. Bloc I, Parter, Sector 6
Vodafone Sayfone Progresul 103 Sos. Giurgiului, Sector 4 Vodafone Sayfone Sincai 29A Dimitrie Cantemir Blv, Sector 4 Vodafone Sayfone Kaufland Colentina 6 Colentina Str. Kaufland Hypermarket, Sector 2 Vodafone Store City Mall 2 Sos. Oltenitei, City Mall, Sector 4
Vodafone Store Magheru 2 -4 Magheru Blv., Sector 1
Vodafone Store Vasile Milea 4 Vasile Milea Blv. Global Business Center, Sector 6
Vodafone Store Mosilor 290 Calea Mosilor, Sector 2
Vodafone Store Lipscani 79 Lipscani Str., Sector 3
Vodafone Store Bucur Obor 2 Sos. Mihai Bravu, Bloc 60B, Parter, Sector 2
Vodafone Store Pan Vitan Real 236 Calea Vitan, Sector 3, Real Hypermarket
Vodafone Store Plaza Mall 26 Timisoara Blv. Plaza Romania Shopping Mall, Sector 6
Vodafone Store Pantelimon 243 Sos. Pantelimon, Bloc 52, Sector 2
Vodafone Store Perla 4 Sos. Stefan cel Mare, Bloc 14, Sector 1 Vodafone Sayfone Real Pallady 51 Th Pallady Blv. Sector 3, Real Pallady Hypermarket
Vodafone Store Piata Vitan 23 D Calea Vitan, Sector 3 Vodafone Store Cocor 29-33 I.C.Bratianu Blv. sector 3, Cocor Store Vodafone Sayfone Pantelimon 256 Sos. Pantelimon, Bloc 53, Parter, Sector 2 Vodafone Sayfone Bratianu 39 I C Bratianu Blv., Bloc P6, Sector 3
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Vodafone Store Rahova 16 Sos. Alexandriei Bloc L4, Parter, Sector 5
Vodafone Sayfone Grivita 236 Calea Grivitei, Sector 1
Caru’ cu Bere
Cuisine: Romanian 5 Stavropoleos St tel: 021 313 75 60; 0726 282 373 MAP p33 B4 45 Be prepared for the full range of Romanian dishes served in the oldest beerhouse in the city. Opened in 1879, this historical landmark is one of the few venues in Bucharest preserved as such, with architecture that reminds visitors why Bucharest was once dubbed the “little Paris”. Distinctive elements include the murals, stained glass and carved cross-beams. Along with the beer, made to a secret original recipe, The Beer Cart is also famous for its atmosphere. The place is packed all week.
Cuisine: Mediterranean 12 Smardan St, tel: 021 311 1922 www.charme.ro MAP p33 C4 46 A minimalist design, classy atmosphere and a well-balanced menu that combines some fine pasta dishes, including seafood and fish, with generous steaks and a good selection of desserts.
Cuisine: Turkish 46 Franceza St, tel: 021 312 30 34 www.thedivan.ro MAP p33 C4 47 They have a larger selection of kebabs on offer than their competitors and this includes beef, lamb, beef and lamb combo, chicken and marinated meat stuffed in an eggplant. It is vastly 30 | BR CITY GUIDE
superior to other Turkish eateries in town and has a larger menu. The evening entertainment program comprises belly dancers.
La Bonne Bouche
Cuisine: French 30 Franceza St, tel: 0731 247 876 www.bistrovin.ro MAP p33 C4 48 One of the best French bistros in town is also one of the most crowded venues in the historical area (make a reservation). The classic menu includes both meat and fish dishes, while the wine list features special labels that are hard to find elsewher.
Cuisine: Romanian 13-15 Selari St, tel: 0726 322 004 www.cramadomneasca.com MAP p33 C2 49 Romanian cuisine at its best, from the classic sour soups, “sarmale” and “mici”, to large pork steaks and eggplant salad, the restaurant located vis-à-vis the National Bank also has a good selection of house wines. The service is friendly and the live “taraf” music program lends the place its unique atmosphere.
Bars & Pubs Absintherie Sixtina
1 Covaci St, tel: 021 310 35 66 MAP p33 C4 50 Under the “Liberte, egalite, absinthe” motto, the pub/café/ bar offers a plethora of alcoholic
14 Gabroveni St, tel: 0760 263 496 www.mojomusic.ro MAP p33 C4 52 Split between three levels, this British-themed joint has a roomy cellar, which hosts live rock, jazz, blues and folk bands and standup comedy, a bar on the ground floor and an upstairs karaoke lounge, open nightly, where even the most feeble attempts to sing are warmly applauded by the friendly crowd. Though it’s not cheap, in its short lifespan MoJo has established itself as something of an institution, thanks to the jolly atmosphere and events.
Stavropoleos church beverages, from wines and beers (including a wide range of Belgian beers) to absinth, of course. The music is not too loud and not too commercial. Another plus is its capaciousness, as it takes up an entire floor of an old building, and never seems too crowded. Adding to the charm there is the small balcony, home to just one table with two chairs.
1 Selari St, tel: 0722 100 193 MAP p33 C4 51
4 Brezoianu St, tel: 021 314 29 01 www.whispers.ro MAP p33 B3 53 Probably the closest thing Bucharest has to a real British boozer, Whispers – the pub that resembles a church – has long been a favorite for its all-day breakfasts, big-screen sport and darts. However, it’s now staking a claim to be a summer venue too with a terrace. The food is okay rather than great, and takes a while to arrive, but the venue remains popular with expats and locals alike.
12A Calea Victoriei, tel: 021 314 92 45, MAP p33 B4
Located right next door to Carul cu Bere, Chocolat stands out as a BR CITY GUIDE | 31
A well-hidden location, at the intersection of Blanari Street and Lipscani, the bar’s intimate atmosphere gives you those long awaited moments far from the madding crowd. The friendly staff and reasonably priced drinks make the place a target destination for locals and expats.
11 Smardan Str, at Rembrandt Hotel mezzanine, tel: 021 313 93 15, MAP p33 C4 56
unique mix of bistro, coffee shop, bakery and confectionery outlet to offer freshly made products, all using natural ingredients. There is a non-smokers’ section, and a terrace for warm days. The menu starts with brunch offerings, extending to salads, snacks and pasta to dinner varieties, a selection of cakes and pralines made with Belgium chocolate, pastry and French bread.
GRAND CAFÉ VAN GOGH
9 Smardan St, tel: 031 107 63 71 www.vangogh.ro MAP p33 C4 55
Classiness ooziness from the high ceiling, understated wooden furnishings and thick drapes at the entrance, and there’s a range of fresh, simple and appetizing eats and drinks appropriate for all times of the day. The delicious smoothies and luxury hot chocolates are just two of the many highlights. In summer you can avoid the smokiness by sitting on the terrace. 32 | BR CITY GUIDE
Finding a quiet place in the bustling Bucharest Old Town can be a challenging task. Add to that the non-smoking policy and you have a unique and winning combination for Klein Café. Located on the mezzanine of the Rembrandt Hotel, next door to Van Gogh Café, it can be easy to miss unless you are specifically looking for it. And if you do, you can expect friendly service in a cozy and relaxed setting. The place is good for business meetings or as an out-of-the-office work space as it offers free wireless internet and a quiet spot in a central part of the city.
16-20 Calea Victoriei, Macca-Villacross Passage, tel: 021 311 2 69, MAP p33 B3
The famous Turkish coffee prepared on sand, peppermint tea (erfe) and non-alcoholic wine (karkale) are only a few of the Oriental aromas that blend together in this beautifully decorated place located in the Villacross passage.
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