Some of these old churches from Bucharest are included in our capital tours. Check our tours on www.uncover-romania-tours.com
The old Orthodox churches from Bucharest aren’t probably the first option that comes to mind when you think of all the places you can see in the capital. But many of these monuments are well worth your time even if you’re not into religious services or the Church for that matter.
If you’re curious enough to go inside, 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 choosing the most impressive ones.
Location: 4 Stavropoleos
Situated in the heart of the Old Town, this iconic church is impossible to miss. Omnipresent in all the travel guides, Stavropoleos Church was built in the first decades of the 18th century and is, even today, one of the most beautiful churches from Bucharest. It’s one of the best representations of the ‘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 churches and old funeral stones.
Location: 1 I.C. Bratianu Boulevard
As you walk up on the boulevard towards 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. Its interior walls 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.
This church is included in our Historical Bucharest Tour.
Location: 29 Justitiei
This church is one of the few saved from the demolitions ordered by the communist authorities in the last years of the regime. Built between 1713 and 1715 by Antim Ivireanul who is now celebrated as a Saint, the church is part of Antim Monastery. Here functioned the first public library in Bucharest and an important book publishing center.
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 blocks of the communist Civic Center. The church was originally built in the same ‘Brancovenesc’ style as Stavropoleos and Coltea Churches.
This church is included in our Communist Bucharest Tour.
Location: 3 Schitu Darvari
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. This very small church 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 garden make it a locals’ favorite.
Location: 45 Victoriei Avenue
With its imposing brick façade, this church is one of the main monuments from the Revolution Square, next to the National Museum of Art. 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.
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.
This church is included in our Historical Bucharest Tour
Location: 4 Sapientei
Over 400 years old, this is one of the oldest churches from Bucharest. Mihai Voda Church was built by the legendary Prince Mihai the Brave who, in 1600, managed to realize the first union of the Romanian provinces. Part of a large monastery that in the last two centuries served as a hospital, medical school and even as an archive deposit, the church barely escaped the communist demolitions.
Only the church and the bell tower could be saved, moved almost 300 meters from their original location, while the monastery was destroyed. Built in a Byzantine style, on a Greek cross plan, the church has some of the most intriguing paintings that represent a unique historical testimony of the two world wars.
Mihai Voda Church is included in our Communist Bucharest Tour
Location: 29-21 Serban Voda
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, with some influences from the local ‘Brancovenesc’ style.
Very close, behind the apartment blocks from Dimitrie Cantemir Boulevard, in the garden of an older church, you’ll find a stone cross that dates from 1632.
Location: 24A Radu Voda
Some 10 minutes from the central Unirii Square, across Dambovita River, you’ll discover one of the oldest monuments in Bucharest. The monastery Radu Voda was built in 1614 on the place of a church that was blown up by the Ottoman army during one of the many devastating attacks against the capital. The monastery was named after its founder, Prince Radu Mihnea, and its architecture was inspired by the style of Curtea de Arges Monastery, one of the most important religious monuments in 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 destroyed by the Turks.
Location: 33 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 might just 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.
Location: 25 Dealul Mitropoliei
The Patriarchy, the most important church in the Orthodox religious hierarchy, concludes our top 10 of the most beautiful old churches from Bucharest. Located only minutes away from the Old Town, on a small hill hidden behind the tall blocks of the communist time, the church of 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. It’s today the most popular pilgrimage place in Bucharest. So popular that worshipers’ queues reach even several kilometers during major religious celebrations from May 21 and October 27. 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 those that are listed as historical monuments have an authentic identity. These centuries-old Orthodox edifices go beyond their religious function, creating a rare and memorable cultural experience.
Some of these old churches from Bucharest are included in our city tours. Check our tours on www.uncover-romania-tours.com