10 Old Churches from Bucharest You Should See
Bucharest’s churches aren’t probably the first options that come to mind when you think of all the places you could see in the capital. But Bucharest has many old churches that are well worth your time even if you’re not into religious services or the Church for that matter. If you’re curious to walk in, you’ll see centuries old paintings and rare objects, and you’ll get to live a completely distinct experience. Our top 10 old churches from Bucharest will guide you in seeing the most impressive of them.
Located right in the Old City Center, this tiny church is impossible to miss. Omnipresent in all the travel guides, Stavropoleos Church was built in the first decades of the 18th century, being one of the best representations of the mature ‘Brancovenesc’ architectural style that combines local elements with Italian and Byzantine influences. Like most churches from the former Old Court, Stavropoleos was an inn church, a current practice of the time.
Don’t miss the small interior court of the monastery where you can see fragments of demolished old churches.
Where: 4 Stavropoleos
As you walk on I.C. Bratianu Boulevard, right before the University Square you’ll see Coltea Church. Built more than three centuries ago, the church highlights the same ‘Brancovenesc’ style typical for the time. Initially part of a fortified monastery that was later destroyed to make space for the current boulevard, the church still conserves on its porch walls the original paintings done by Parvu Mutu while its interiors have Renaissance paintings done centuries later by Gheorghe Tattarescu.
The statue of the church’s founder, Mihai Cantacuzino, stands in front of the neighboring Coltea Hospital. Done from Carrara marble by Karl Storck, this is the first statue from Bucharest.
Where: 1 I.C. Bratianu Boulevard
This church is one of the few saved from the demolitions ordered by the communist authorities in the last years of the regime. Part of the monastery of Antim, built between 1713 and 1715 by Antim Ivireanul whose statue is right outside, the church has a rare rock iconostasis.
Throughout the centuries, the monastery also had a printing press for religious books and a rich library, playing a crucial part in the cultural life of Southern Romania. The Palace of the Saint Synod was built in 1912 next to the church, and both buildings were moved in January 1985 some 20 meters away to make space for the new lines of blocks of the Civic Center.
Where: 29 Justitiei
Walking to this small church will take you far away from the noisy and crowded central boulevards, giving you the chance to explore the quieter and charming streets of Bucharest. Schitu Darvari was founded in 1834 by the Darvari family who built here a hermitage and a family chapel. Hidden behind solid walls, the church was declared a historical monument and its monastery was restored after being closed for decades by the communist regime. Its tranquility, beautiful icons and small garden make it a locals’ favorite.
While the church is easily reached from the University Square, it’s best to have a map with you if it’s your first time in Bucharest.
Where: 3 Schitu Darvari
With its imposing brick façade, this church is one of the main monuments from the Revolution Square, next to the National Museum of Art and the many statues from the square. The church was built in 1722 by the daughter of Prince Constantin Brancoveanu and her husband in the same ‘Brancovenesc’ style as were other churches included in our top.
However, the restoration works from the following centuries destroyed its original architecture, and it’s only before the Second World War that the church is renovated again this time closer to its initial plans. Located where once was the northern border of Bucharest, the church miraculously survived the bombings from 1944, the numerous demolitions from the communist time, the revolution days from 1989 and many earthquakes. The paintings from the porch are especially beautiful, the scenes from the Apocalypse being rather unusual for the Neo-Byzantine tradition.
Where: 45 Victoriei Avenue
The largest church in Bucharest, Spiridon Church is impressive not only when it comes to its proportions, 38 meters tall and 41 meters long, but especially for its Renaissance style interior paintings done by Gheorghe Tattarescu, the most prolific religious painter from the 19th century. Built between 1852 and 1858, the church combines neo-Gothic, neo-Byzantine and neo-Classic architectural elements, adding also influences from the local ‘Brancovenesc’ style.
Very close, behind the apartment blocks from Dimitrie Cantemir Boulevard, in the garden of a very small church, you’ll find a cross that dates from 1632.
Where: 29-21 Serban Voda
Radu Voda Church
Some 5-10 minutes on foot from Spiridon Church, you’ll discover one of the oldest monuments in Bucharest: the monastery Radu Voda. Built in 1614 after the original edifice was blown up by the Ottoman army, the monastery was named after its founder, Prince Radu Mihnea, and was inspired by the architecture of the Monastery from Curtea de Arges, a symbol for many churches in Southern Romania.
The church is very popular with local worshipers who believe the saint remains from the church help cure diseases. In the court of the church you’ll also see the bell tower of the original 16th century monument.
Where: 24A Radu Voda
Local folklore places this church as the oldest in the capital although it most likely dates from the 18th century. Located right across the street from Radu Voda, Bucur Church is a miniature comparing to the latest religious venues built across Romania.
Initially a chapel for the nearby monastery, this church is so tiny that you just might miss it. Be sure you don’t, it has a splendid collection of icons and an overwhelming feeling of tranquility even if it’s so close to the noisy Unirii Square.
Where: 33 Radu Voda
Fundenii Doamnei Church
Founded in 1699 by Mihail Cantacuzino, Fundenii Doamnei is a unique and spectacular Orthodox monument, conserving partially the original paintings from the 17th century. Located further away from the city center, in a small village neighboring the capital, this church seems worlds apart from Bucharest.
The decorations done in stucco that cover its facades differentiate it from all the other churches built in the same ‘Brancovenesc’ style. Abundant in Oriental motifs that vary from exotic fruits, tropical plants and palaces, these decorations are a rare presence on the walls of an Orthodox church.
Where: 138 Fundeni Street
The most important church in the Orthodox religious hierarchy, the Patriarchy, concludes our top 10 of the most beautiful old churches from Bucharest. Located only minutes away from the Old City Center, on a small hill hidden behind the tall blocks of the communist time, the Patriarchy was built in the second part of the 17th century, inspired by the plans of the medieval church from Curtea de Arges.
It became a Metropolitan Cathedral in 1668 and a Patriarchy after the First World War, and is today the most popular pilgrimage place in Bucharest. So popular that worshipers’ queues reach even several kilometers during major religious holidays from 21 May and 27 October. You’d better avoid these days if you’re looking for a quiet time to visit the church.
Like all cities in Romania, Bucharest has many churches, but most often only the old ones, classified as historical monuments, have an authentic personality. These centuries old edifices go beyond their religious function, creating a rare cultural experience.