Old Center, New Attraction
I went there with no intention of looking to see too much. I was there as my wife's companion to her favorite place of quiet and meditation in the silence of life. A small convent of nuns, with only six nuns and a priest. A small and outdated monastery in the middle of a city of three million people. Bucharest, the capital of Romania.
It was built in 1724, by a Greek archimandrite named Ioanichie. The chosen site is in the center of the town, a developing commercial center with many stores, inns, and churches. The earliest photo I found is from 1894, showing the foundation pit of a large building, the Post Office Palace, which is now the Romanian History Museum. A museum to visit, it houses both copies of the bas-reliefs on Trajan's Column in Rome and gold objects from the time of the Dacians, the ancestors of the Romanians.
It seems incredible that they erected imposing buildings with such rudimentary methods, compared to the machines used today.
This place has had a troubled history, like the country, in 1991 it was restored and in 1995 it was awarded a European Union prize and included in the European architectural heritage. It's a sought-after destination for tourists interested in history, religion, and culture.
While my wife is in the courtyard of the monastery I stayed outside to observe both the people and the monastery, from many angles and of course to take as many photos as possible, wanting to write about its architecture. Unfortunately, something happened to the camera lens and many of the photos were compromised. The remaining ones are here...
Because of the pandemic, the religious service is held in the small courtyard of the monastery, which is another fact that attracts tourists and stimulates their curiosity.
The lady in the picture is a perfect example of harmonizing hairstyle to clothing. Beautiful!
The Old Town is, as I like to say, an island from another time in the middle of a cluttered and crowded city. Here was the oldest merchant district, here was the trade of goods brought from the Orient, here were the inns and shops. With Romania's transition from monarchy to communism in 1947, the old houses began to be demolished and housing blocks built on the Soviet model. Thousands and thousands of beautiful houses and buildings disappeared. Fortunately, this area escaped, it was not demolished, but it was not taken care of, it was just abandoned. The buildings deteriorated, people with no means and no care moved into these houses, all leading to destruction. Only the shops survived because this had been a famous place for shopping and people remembered that. I remember going there as a child with my mother.
The streets of the Old Center
After a new major change in the history and life of the Romanians, i.e. the exit from communism in 1989, the interest in what was old and represented the history of the city appeared. The repair of buildings and houses began, an activity that has been going on for over twenty years and is still not finished. However, many improvements, reconstructions, and renovations have been made and the place has been taken over by young people. It has become a place of entertainment, with plenty of restaurants and terraces, first for the locals and then, in the last ten years, increasingly sought after by foreign tourists.
Because the religious service at the monastery was quite long, I decided to take a walk on the streets around it, the nearest streets. Being in the morning, the places were almost deserted, very pleasant both for walking and shooting.
The building on the right is the current Museum of History of Romania, built in the pit that can be seen in the old photo from the beginning of the post. The small vehicle belongs to the local police, this small neighborhood has its own police.
On narrow streets, we find only terraces. An extremely popular place of entertainment but which has been badly affected by the pandemic.
The pain is on both sides. Both the young people who can no longer stay all night together at these terraces and the owners of these restaurants who are making huge losses. In this hospitality industry, restaurants and hotels, the pandemic has hit hardest.
Another industry affected, the aviation industry. Air transport that has led to such a rapid development of tourism, it is now extremely easy to move between different countries.
The Old Town of Bucharest has become a favorite destination for many young people from Europe and beyond.
Before the pandemic, many hundreds of young people, especially from England and Israel, spent their weekends here. Good food, very cheap drinks, and beautiful (but quite dangerous) girls are the reasons for this choice. Now, when there are far fewer flights and planes, of course, they couldn't come. We all hope the end of this pandemic will bring the tourists back.
On my walk I saw quite a few tourists, most of them speaking Spanish, walking the same streets.
I let the tourists look for what they want and hope they found it.
Some art ... for sale!
I was looking for something else. And I found it! An art gallery.
It is a bohemian place with lots of good paintings, contemporary Romanian art.
Most of all I like the street named after the monastery. Stavropoleus Street. A short but extremely beautiful street, with the buildings that border it, all very old. On one side is the History Museum, the Stavropoleus Monastery, and the former headquarters of an old bank, Banca de Credit Roman...
... and on the right side, buildings of the National Bank and a very old and famous restaurant called the Beer Cart.
What I like most, however, is that at either end of the street are two gorgeous French-inspired buildings. On one side is the CEC Palace ...
... on the other side is the former Chamber of Commerce.
Of course, these buildings are located on perpendicular streets but they give the impression that they close the two ends of Stavropoleus street.
I can't say I haven't been here. Many, many times! It's a place where, when I walk the narrow, gently sloping streets, I wonder what century I'm in. It's another world, gone but partially revived and this process I hope will continue.
Although it can't be considered the most beautiful place in Bucharest, this Old Center tends to be the most known in the world and sought by all tourists. This is why I chose it to be the subject of this post. To be a reminder for those who may have been there and an invitation for those who have not yet arrived!
HiveBloPoMo - Day 9
This is my attempt to post every day in November!