Site of the old Royal Palace and the scene of Ceausescu’s downfall. It lies halfway along Bucharest’s historic north-south axis, the Calea Victoriei, which is still the main artery of city life. Buses heading north and south, however, use the scruffy boulevards east of Calea Victoriei; the main junction along them is the Piata Universitatii, scene of major events immediately after the 1989 revolution.
Many of the city’s sights are within walking distance of these two squares. Just to the south lies the historic centre, a pleasant antidote to the noisy, modern surrounds, and which is currently in the throes of a major regeneration project. Beyond this, across the River Dâmbovita, is the contrasting cityscape of Ceausescu’s compellingly monstrous Centru Civic, whose centrepiece, the extraordinary Palace of Parliament, is the city’s main tourist attraction. Just west of the centre are the Cismigiu Gardens, a tranquil space and a popular place for assignations.
For a taste of the old atmosphere of the city, you need to wander north and west of the gardens past the vine-covered facades, to suburbs where life retains a village-like slowness and intimacy. North from Piata Revolutiei, beyond Piata Victoriei, lies Bucharest’s best museum – the Museum of the Romanian Peasant – and further north still, along Soseaua Kiseleff, is Herastrau Park, the city’s largest green space and location of the marvellous Village Museum.