Palace of the people

Part 7:
Walks through Bucharest

Casa poporului, or Casa parlamentului, is probably the internationally most famous sight of Bucharest
Then there is Piata Revolutiei with the Athenaeum, the Royal Palace and the library. Nearby, the Parliament building, the place where Nicolae Ceausescu gave his last speech, and finding himself booed by the crowd, fled with a helicopter from the roof - an event which is, again, commemorated with a plaque.

But I much more enjoyed going through little side streets, seeing architecture that seems influenced as much by oriental as by occidental culture, old villas that sometimes were almost falling apart but had a certain decadent charm about them, and sometimes were nicely renovated again and used as embassies. And little courtyards that seemed to give a glimpse into a hidden world.

One place worth visiting is the village museum. A part of the museum had burned down some months prior to my visit, but a lot of it was already reconstructed, and quite a few of the little houses looked very new. Also, I saw a part where more new houses were built, so I am curious to visit it again on my next visit to Romania.

One criticism I have heard several times about the museum is, that it only shows traditional houses of ethnic Romanians, none of the many minorities (Hungarians, Roma, and Germans, to name just the most well known).
Nevertheless, it is quite interesting to see the different traditional Romanian houses, wander between them, and every now and then look through a window into the traditionally decorated rooms. The museum really looks like a little village itself, and going from one side of the museum to the other, is like passing through all the different regions of Romania.

The most famous sight of Bucharest is probably the Palace of the People - symbol of Ceausescu's Megalomania and second largest building in the world, which not only had cost millions, but for which also big parts of the old town had been torn down - for which the 1977 earth quake had been used as an excuse.

During my first visit to the city, when I did not yet really know anything about it, it was the first thing I wanted to see. But for some reason I was unable to find. Only later I became aware of how close to it I was in fact, and that I had seen parts of it towering above the other buildings.

It's artistic value is arguable, and the huge rooms boosting marble, gold, velvet and similar decorations and gi-gantic crystal lamps are not what I would call pretty. Yet, it is impressive to see, and whenever I had guests from home I told them that it is one of the things you should have visited once.

Picture Page: Places

Part 8: Horses, dogs and markets

this travelogue is part of the subside travelzine
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