Bucharest Atheneum: History and Classical Music

The Atheneum is included in most of our tours in Bucharest. Check our tours on www.uncover-romania-tours.com

The Atheneum is by far one of the most beautiful attractions in Bucharest and one of the best-known images of the Romanian capital. If you’ve ever searched for photos of Bucharest online, it’s very likely you’ve stumbled upon the Greek temple image of the Atheneum, a monumental 41 meters tall construction with six 12 meters columns.

Bucharest Atheneum

Public funding and communist censure

The construction of the Bucharest Atheneum started in 1886, close to the Royal Palace, on the existing foundations of an equestrian center and, although, not completed, the building was inaugurated just two years later. The work continued in the next years, partly financed through a very popular public fundraising campaign still known as ‘Dati un leu pentru Ateneu’ translated as ‘Give one Leu (Romanian money) for the Atheneum’. The architect in charge was Albert Galleron, personally recommended by Charles Garnier who designed the Opera of Paris.

Bucharest Atheneum

The construction continued until 1897 when the impressive interior staircase was added and the Bucharest Atheneum extended. Nonetheless, it’s only decades later, in 1933, that painter Costin Petrescu started working on the great circular fresco from the main concert hall that illustrates through 25 scenes the defining moments of the Romanian history, a one of a kind representation in the Romanian space.

Atheneum Bucharest

However, the Atheneum was not spared the horrors of the Second World War, and was almost destroyed by the 1944 bombardments, restored again afterwards through public fundraising. During the communist period, the statues from the garden were crushed, and the interior fresco was covered for almost 20 years, part of the communist authorities’ efforts to rewrite history while ignoring the monarchy’s existence.

The Atheneum hosts today the Romanian Philharmonic George Enescu, the perfect place for classical music enthusiasts, and is one of the top cultural venues in Bucharest.  Even if you’re not planning to attend a recital, you can still visit the Atheneum for the price of one ticket. It’s a visit you’ll always remember when you’ll think of your time in Bucharest.

You can check the concerts’ schedule on www.fge.org.ro.

The Atheneum is included in most of our tours in Bucharest. Check our tours on www.uncover-romania-tours.com

About the author

Diana is a tourism consultant, tour guide, travel writer and amateur photographer, focusing on sustainable tourism practices and destinations. You can find Diana Condrea on Twitter and Google+

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