As the evening sets in, especially during the warm season, the old town transforms into a completely different place and the atmosphere changes dramatically. The pace becomes almost hypnotic, with rivers of people overflowing into the most vibrant streets, frantically searching for the popular restaurants, pubs, and nightclubs!
Every journey must start somewhere and, in this case, our adventure across Romania begins from the heart of Bucharest, where all the roads spread out towards the rest of the country. It’s difficult to imagine the former glory of the Bucharest Old Town, hidden beneath all the shiny new storefronts or eaten away by the relentless passing of time. Some of the old inns, mansions and churches have survived the long years of neglect and can now be admired in full splendor. The true development of Bucharest’s Old Town started at the beginning of the 17th century when the capital of Wallachia was moved here from the town of Târgoviște. The major streets took the names of important guilds with merchants from all over Europe setting up shops in them. Soon, lively inns and charming hotels began opening up between the older shops in order to serve the increasing population and visitors. Sadly, a great number of monuments were destroyed during the Second World War bombings and later by the Communists, who saw this area too bourgeois, nationalizing all the private businesses. The situation of the old town before 1990 can still be seen on some side streets and alleys, with derelict and collapsing buildings; some beyond saving. Nevertheless, many of the streets and monuments have regained their past charm and atmosphere in the last decades.
Bucharest Old Town (old center as it’s known by locals) covers an area of approximately 0,5 sq. km., located between Queen Elizabeth and Carol I boulevards to the north, Hristo Botev Boulevard to the east, Corneliu Coposu Boulevard, Halelor Street, and Splaiul Independentei to the south, while Victory Avenue encloses it to the west. Our walk through its enchanting streets reveals exceptional historical and architectural treasures, but also a vibrant atmosphere that truly comes alive in the evening. During the busiest summer months, the cobblestone streets and alleys become crowded with people. While most travelers arrive in Bucharest’s Old Town for its vibrant restaurants and bars, there are also plenty of interesting monuments to discover. At the core of this area stands the Old Princely Court Palace that used to be the residence of the rulers of Wallachia, including the famous “Vlad the Impaler”. The palace complex included living chambers, reception halls, cellars, stables, gardens, and other spaces. It was used for several centuries and constantly upgraded by the ruling families of the time. The palace was severely damaged and became obsolete after the fire of 1718 and the earthquake of 1738. Today, it is being renovated and transformed into an exceptional interactive museum.
The palace complex also includes the adjacent Saint Anthony Church (also known as the Annunciation or Old Court Church). Dated around 1555, it is the oldest religious edifice in the city to keep its original architecture. Right in front of the church we can admire one of the oldest and most famous inns of Bucharest. Manuc’s Inn (Hanul lui Manuc) is still preserving much of its authentic aspect and was built in 1808 by a wealthy Armenian entrepreneur. It is the oldest hotel-type building in Bucharest and has housed important historical events. Still on French Street, a little to the west, we can also visit the beautiful St. Demetrius – Post Church, dated in 1819 and featuring several holy relics, as well as the only old icon of St. Judas Tadeo in Bucharest. A few steps to the north along the rear walls of the National History Museum, there is one of the most beautiful churches in the city. The Stavropoleos Monastery Church features a superb traditional Brâncovenesc style and houses the largest collection of Byzantine music books in Romania. It was built in 1724 by a Greek monk that owned an inn, both the monastery and the inn being demolished by the end of the 19th century.
There is an almost eerie feeling as we wander around the lifeless cobblestone streets on a Sunday morning! At times, we can still sense the soul of this eclectic and fascinating area of Bucharest. It is no wonder that the city was once known as “Little Paris” and some of the renovated streets of the old center still capture part of that authentic charm of bygone times!
Moving over to Lipscani Street, this is one of the most enchanting areas in the Old Town. Here, we can admire the superb architecture of the Romanian National Bank or the Pinacotheque Palace. One of the lesser-known treasures of Bucharest is the “Little Paris” Museum which features fascinating exhibits reviving the atmosphere of the city at the dawn of the 19th century. One of the most spectacular attractions on Lipscani Street is the modern Cărturești Carusel Bookstore, with its unique interior design. Another historical inn of Bucharest can be found nearby. The Linden Tree Inn (Hanul cu Tei) was built in 1833 and has preserved much of its original look, although today it houses art galleries and bars. Other interesting attractions on the western side of Bucharest Old Town include the St. Elias Church – Colței Inn, St. Nicholas Șelari Church, the Romanian Kitsch Museum, and more.
Surrounding the busy University Square, we can discover other beautiful landmarks, starting with the Bucharest Municipality Museum, located inside the superb Șuțu Palace. This art and history museum presents the history of the city. Nearby, we can admire the amazing domes of St. Nicholas or Russian Church, initially covered in gold and very unusual for Romania. On the other side of the busy I.C. Brătianu Boulevard that was built over part of the old town, there are several heritage sites, starting with the old Colțea Church, which was built in 1702 and was once part of a monastery. It includes beautiful interior paintings and decorations.
Urban explorers and lovers of culture must wander through the constant construction works and disheartening dilapidated facades to get a glimpse of its raw beauty. Locals and tourists alike indulge in the free and careless spirit of Bucharest’s Old Town!
A little to the south, next to the amazing St. George New Church is the Kilometer Zero Monument, marking the place from which all distances in Romania are measured. The southeastern corner of the old town is part of the so-called Jewish Quarter, with the Coral Temple built in the mid-19th century as a replica of the Great Synagogue in Vienna. These are only the most important places to see while visiting Bucharest’s Old Town, as other hidden marvels can only be discovered by wandering around the maze of streets and alleys, especially around Lipscani Street, French Street, Șelari Street, Blănari Street, Doamnei Street, Moșilor Avenue, Colței Street and others. A mix of cultural heritage and entertainment haven, this is one of the most fascinating destinations of the country. Far from perfect, the old city area of Bucharest is a mandatory experience when visiting the capital of Romania!
Best Accommodation in Bucharest Old Town
9.1 Rating from 4378 Reviews!
One of the most prestigious and popular locations in the old town of Bucharest, this exquisite hotel features superb rooms with huge TV’s and large bathrooms, a high class restaurant, lounge and fitness center!
9.5 Rating from 403 Reviews!
Located in the heart of the old town, this boutique hotel features amazing and uniquely designed rooms with charming ambiance and perfect amenities, a pleasant lounge and a delicious Italian restaurant!
9.5 Rating from 699 Reviews!
One of the most unique and fascinating accommodations of the old town is this elegant hotel with beautiful design and atmosphere, offering contemporary rooms with all amenities, a lounge, bar and fitness center!
9.5 Rating from 80 Reviews!
Located in a historical building on French Street, this suite features 3 bedrooms, 1 living room and 2 bathrooms, all amazingly furbished and equipped.
9.1 Rating from 36 Reviews!
Located on Covaci Street, this excellent studio apartment offers quality accommodation in a very nice area of Old Town Bucharest, featuring exceptional design.
9.5 Rating from 21 Reviews!
This charming little appartment is located on Blănari Street and offers accommodation for max 4 people in one bedroom, one bathroom and a kitchenette.