What would you do if you had a full day just for yourself and you decide to go explore Bucharest – what route would you choose? Probably one long enough as a distance, including a number of parks in several areas of the city and different tourist attractions, enough to keep you busy while you take the time and admire the city by foot.
Well, how about you spend one day in the historical center of Bucharest on a walking tour? The area you will be strolling around for a few hours is not very large, but it awaits you with plenty of interesting places and stories – if you have time to listen to them. Here’s what you can do in Bucharest if you want to spend a day in the historic center and see it through the eyes of a tourist.
After a stop at an internationally renowned café where you’ll probably stop to grab a coffee on the go, you will find one of Bucharest’s oldest locations: Manuc’s Inn, the meeting place of poets, artists and politicians at the beginning of the 19th century.
After more than two centuries since it was first opened, the inn has changed, but it still retains something of the atmosphere of the last cenury. The architecture of the place, with arches and wooden towers, and wrought iron ornaments will definitely fascinate you – and you will be pleasantly impressed by the traditional dishes and the wines kept in the cellar. In the past, Manuc’s Inn had 15 cellars, 23 rooms on the ground floor and more than 100 upstairs, two large salons and 23 little shops.
Old Royal Court
Leave behind the stories of the travelers encountered at the inn; pay a visit to the Old Court, where the ruins of the Court Palace are located. It is interesting to see that in the middle of a modern Bucharest, with steel and glass buildings, the ruins of the first princely court, built at the end of the fourth century, in the time of Prince Mircea the Old.
And, more interestingly, is the fact that the first Romanian writings appeared there and many of the important events of the country took place where there are now only ruins left. Starting with the fifteenth century, the fortress was subjected to consolidation works several times, but after the fire that devastated Bucharest (in 1718) and the powerful earthquake in the next 20 years, the Old Court was closed. You can visit the city’s cellars, some of the walls of the former palace and the ruins of the former Turkish bath, as well as the worship center next to it – the Old Court Church.
Coffee shops and restaurants
From the Old Court, you can take the French Street and then Smardan Street, where you can see a sight that makes you understand why Bucharest was called Little Paris in the past: dozens of coffee shops with terraces full of flowers, restaurants waiting for their clients to stop for a refreshing pint of beer and taste a wide variety of tasty dishes and little shops with all kinds of knick-knacks and souvenirs.
All the small streets of Old Town (Lipscani, Gabroveni, Blanari, Covaci, Doamnei) will show you another Bucharest, something old and new that you will immediately fall in love with: old buildings (mostly renovated), modern coffee shops where there’s always free Wi-Fi and people of all kinds. The historic center is definitely an area of contrasts with a special charm.
The National Bank
From Lipscani Street, at the intersection with Smardan Street, you will find one of the symbolic buildings of Bucharest, the Palace of the National Bank of Romania (BNR Palace). The building built between 1884 and 1890 by architects Cassien Bernard (who designed the Alexander III bridge on Sena) and Albert Galleron (the same who made plans for the Romanian Athenaeum) is one of the most beautiful buildings in Bucharest .
The BNR Palace was built on the site of the former Serban Voda Inn. Some of the ruins of the former inn can be seen today in front of the palace, on Lipscani Street, covered with a glass roof.
Caru cu Bere
A visit to Bucharest’s Old Town is not complete without a stop at Caru cu Bere, the famous beer brewery inaugurated in 1879, transformed today into a renowned restaurant. Whether you stop at Caru cu Bere to cool down with a fresh pint of beer, or try some delicious food, you will not regret your choice. Caru cu Bere is a real historical monument in which you feel you can spend hours in a row only by looking around at the neo-gothic building designed by architects Zigfrid Z. Kofczinski and Al. Pesch, impeccably decorated with paintings, stained glass, carved paneling and mosaics.
You can end the one-day trip through Bucharest’s Old Town at the Stavropoleos Monastery, located near Caru cu Bere. Small in size, the church hides a real treasure: frescoes and a superb interior courtyard – perfect to rest after walking all day. Initially, the monastery was erected by archimandrite Ioanichie in 1724, during the second reign of Nicolae Mavrocordat in Wallachia, and included an inn. In 1897, however, other buildings were erected according to the plans of the architect Ion Mincu.
This is one of the travel itineraries that you can choose for a one-day trip in Bucharest’s Old Town, which includes some of its famous tourist attractions, but there are plenty of other things to discover in this beautiful part of the city, as well as other interesting locations in Bucharest’s surroundings.