Location: Southern Romania Elevation: 190 - 295 ft (55 - 90 m) Size: City of Bucharest - 88 sq.miles (228 sq.km); Bucharest Metropolitan area - 587 sq.miles (1,521 sq.km) Inhabited since: 500 BC First documented: 1459 AD Population: 1.921 milion Known for its wide, tree-lined boulevards, glorious Belle Époque buildings and a 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.
Romanian legend has it that the city of Bucharest was founded on the banks of the Dambovita River by a shepherd named Bucur, whose name literarily means "joy." His flute playing reportedly dazzled the people and his hearty wine from nearby vineyards endeared him to the local traders, who gave his name to the place.
Today, the massive auditorium plays host to various conferences and events, including some of the George Enescu International Festival concerts. Banquets and official events are still hosted in the ballrooms, while the upstairs area is reserved for the army's library, as well as offices and classrooms for officer instruction.
The main part of the building is off-limits to civilians, but the sumptuous restaurant and summer terrace is open to the public. Address: Calea Victoriei 11 - 13 Boasting one of the most impressive neoclassical facades in the city, this structure was built in the 19th century to the design of French architect Paul Gottereanu (who between 18 designed more than 50 buildings in the city, to house the first Romanian Savings Bank.
Address: Piata Presei Libere 1 (as it is still universally known) was designed by architect Horia Maicu.
The building is a smaller replica of the Lomonosov University in Moskow - Russia (inaugurated in 1953).
Between the two world wars, Calea Victoriei developed into one of the most fashionable streets in the city.
Stroll along this street from Piata Victoriei to Piata Natiunilor Unite to discover some of the most stunning buildings in the city, including the Cantacuzino Palace, the Revolution Square, the Military Club, National Savings Bank Palace and the National History Museum. Address: Calea Victoriei 141 Admission charge Grigore Cantacuzino was thought to be one of Romania's wealthiest citizens in 1899.
A ring of pink marble columns is linked by flowing arches where elaborate brass lanterns hang like gems from a necklace. Never accept taxi/ car rides, tours or guide services from strangers, no matter how presentable or fluent in English, who approach you on the street. In the spring, the weather can quickly alternate between rain and sunshine. As the leaves begin to change color, you can still enjoy warm and sunny days while taking a stroll in the city's many parks or down Calea Victoriei.
It was here, at the balcony of the former Communist Party Headquarters, that Ceausescu stared in disbelief as the people gathered in the square below turned on him. Christian Tell 6 (between Calea Victoriei and Blvd.
He fled the angry crowd in his white helicopter, only to be captured outside of the city a few hours later. Magheru, near Piata Romana) Tel: 021 2 This is the city's most centrally located outdoor market.
Address: Piata Arcul de Triumf Initially built of wood in 1878 to honor the Romanian soldiers who won the Independence War, Bucharest's Arch of Triumph was rebuit in 1922 and redecoreted in 1936 with base reliefs carved in granite brought from Deva (Transylvania).
Designed by the architect, Petre Antonescu, the Arch stands 89 feet high.