Top Historical Sites in Old Town Bucharest

If you’d like to take a guided tour of Bucharest, check our tours on www.uncover-romania-tours.com

Bucharest is by far Romania’s most visited city and like any other capital it has a vibrant and crowded old town with plenty of historical sights, restaurants, small shops and bars. If you have only a few hours to explore it, here is our local expert opinion on the top sights from Old Town Bucharest you should not miss.

old town bucharest

Old Streets

Packed with a variety of bars and restaurants, the narrow streets from Old Town Bucharest were once the main commercial streets of the city. Their name is in fact the legacy of the past days when merchants brought goods from all the corners of the world and sold their products to the elites of the capital.

The houses’ particular architecture is also a sign of this key activity. They were aligned directly on the street and had a narrow façade in order to save space while the traditional houses of Bucharest had a garden close to the street and the house placed further away.

Old Town Bucharest

The best-known of these streets is Lipscani, named after Leipzig, the city from which the merchants brought their goods. Lipscani is located in the upper part of the old town and crosses Victoriei Boulevard right after you leave the National Bank of Romania on the left. Other streets with suggestive names are Gabroveni indicating the origin of the merchandise from the Bulgarian city of Gabro, Selari, Blanari, Covaci.

Old Banks

Old Town Bucharest was one century ago the financial heart of the capital. The most important banks, including the National Bank of Romania inaugurated in 1890, were located here. Their imposing headquarters were the symbol of their power and importance that reached its peak before the world crisis of 1929.

old town bucharest

Besides the impressive Neo-Classic edifice of the National Bank from Lipscani Street, you can admire right across from it the Genovese style palace of the former Chrissoveloni Bank, the building of Marmorosch Blank Bank from Doamnei Street or the former Banca de Credit Roman from Stavropoleos Street.

Old Churches

Bucharest has plenty of old churches and its old town is by no means an exception. Three of the most beautiful churches from the capital are located here and you should see at least one if not all of them. Smaller than the contemporary churches, Stavropoleos, Zlatari and Selari are exquisite religious monuments.

stavropoleos church

The first two are old inn churches from the early 18th century while Selari dates from the early 19th century. If Stavropoleos is one of the finest expressions of the local ‘Brancovenesc style’, Zlatari and Selari have unique interior paintings done more than one hundred years ago by Gheorghe Tattarescu, one of the most preeminent religious painters in Romania.

Old Inns

Bucharest’s Old Town was once located on the prosperous commercial route that linked the east and west of the continent. A lot of merchants stayed in the city on their long journeys while others settled here for good. Centrally located and fortified in the case of a potential attack, the inns were the best accommodation option of the time.

Only two 19th century inns survive today, Manuc, located in front of the Old Court, and the Linden Inn from Lipscani Street. While you can admire the first enjoying a cold drink at its interior court restaurant, the second hosts numerous small art shops. The ruins of an older inn are covered in glass in front of the National Bank of Romania.

The Old Court

Historically speaking, the main landmark of today’s old town was the Old Court, the residence of medieval princes, including Vlad the Impaler. The Old Court was built in the 15th century, but occupied initially a very small part from the almost 25,000 square meters it had during its maximum expansion after Bucharest became the capital of Southern Romania.

old town Bucharest

The court flourished during the time of Prince Constantin Brancoveanu, but by the end of the 18th century it was abandoned and its land was sold to the merchants who completely reshaped this part of the city. The ruins of the Old Court are conserved as a museum since 1972.

The Old Palace of the Chamber of Commerce

Built between 1908 and 1911 after the plans of architect Stefan Burcus, this impressive building was initially the Trade Stock headquarters and was inaugurated in the presence of King Carol the 1st and the royal family. What most grabs the attention are its rich-detail sculptures, including a lion surrounded by the carved representations of Industry, holding a hammer, and god Mercury holding an anchor, all done by Emil Becker, the sculptor of the Royal House.

Old Town Bucharest

The roof decorations were done by Alexandru Dumitriu who also worked on the roofs of the Atheneum, the Patriarchy, the City Hall and the main railway station Gara de Nord. From 1955 until 2012, the monument housed the National Library.

These are the five highlights you shouldn’t to miss, but their itinerary will help you discover more attractions and historical monuments in Bucharest’s Old Town, including the imposing National Bank of Romania that has a very interesting numismatic museum and the Macca-Villacrosse Passage.

If you’d like to take a guided tour of 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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