Beautiful Historical Sites in Old Town Bucharest You Should See

Diana Condrea
Diana Condrea
Diana is a tourism consultant, tour guide, travel writer and amateur photographer. You can find Diana on LinkedIn

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 attractions, restaurants, small shops, and bars. If you have only a few hours to explore it, here is our local expert opinion on the top sites from Old Town Bucharest you should not miss.

old town bucharest

Former bank edifice, Old Town Bucharest

1. The old merchant 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 in the back.

Bucharest Old Town

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 intersects with Victoriei Avenue 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 but also Selari, Blanari, Covaci.

2. The former 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

Former bank edifice, Lipscani Street

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.

3. The 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

Stavropoleos Church

The first two are old inn churches from the 18th century while Selari dates from the early 19th century. If Stavropoleos is one of the finest representations 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.

4. The 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 houses small art shops. The ruins of an older inn, Serban Voda, are covered with glass in front of the National Bank of Romania.

5. The Old Court

The Old Court, the residence of medieval princes, including Vlad the Impaler, is the only medieval site that survived. The Old Court was built in the 15th century but occupied initially a very small part of the almost 25,000 square meters it had after Bucharest became the capital of Southern Romania.

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.

old town Bucharest

The ruins of the Old Court

6. The Macca-Villacrosse Passage

Dating from the end of the 19th century when passages covered with colored glass were quite the fashion in Europe, the Macca-Vilacrosse Passage connects the Old Town with Victoriei Avenue through its two arms. Built on the place of the former inn, like many of the monuments from the Old Town, this yellow glass-covered passage is one of the best-known images of Bucharest.

7. 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 Old Palace of the Chamber of Commerce

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, while today its ground floor is occupied by an antique market.

These are the highlights you shouldn’t miss, but there’s more to see, including the imposing National Bank of Romania and its very interesting numismatic museum, the National Museum of History, and the fun to visit Kitsch Museum.

For the complete experience of the Old Town, cross the Boulevard I.C. Bratianu and explore the streets behind Coltea Hospital and Saint Gheorghe Church.

Don’t forget to book your accommodation in time to be sure you get the best deals. You can find below a hand-picked selection of our favorite places to stay in Bucharest.

Where to stay in Bucharest

If you prefer the hotel experience right in the heart of historical Bucharest, our recommendations are Hilton Garden Inn Bucharest, Mansion Boutique Hotel, Grand Boutique Hotel, Grand Hotel Continental, Epoque Hotel, Cismigiu Hotel, all splendid buildings from the glory days of Bucharest.

Booking an apartment is also a popular and more budget-friendly option in Bucharest. While there are hundreds of choices, we can help narrow down your list to the best. Our suggestions are Vila Cotroceni Boutique Apartments, University Central by Orchid Garden, Bucharest Residence, Diana’s Flat Bucharest, Cismigiu Orchid Garden, Studio Old Town, Elysium.

If hostels are your thing, try Umbrella Hostel located in a 1920s building, Podstel Bucharest close to the beautiful Carol Park or First Hostel Bucharest.

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

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