The Royal Palace and National Art Museum in Bucharest

The most imposing of the buildings surrounding the Piata Revolutiei is the former Royal Palace, which occupies most of the western side of the square. When the original single-storey dwelling burnt down in 1927, the king, Carol II, decided to replace it with something far more impressive. The surrounding dwellings were razed in order to build a new palace, with discreet side entrances to facilitate visits by Carol’s mistress, Magda Lupescu, and the shady financiers who formed the couple’s clique. However, the resultant sprawling brownstone edifice has no real claim to elegance and the palace was spurned as a residence by Romania’s postwar rulers, Ceausescu preferring a villa in the northern suburbs pending the completion of his own palace in the Centru Civic.

The Royal Palace

Since 1950, the palace has housed the National Art Museum (Muzeul National de Arta; Wed–Sun; May–Sept 11am–7pm; Oct–April 10am–6pm; €3) in the Kretzulescu (south) wing. During the fighting in December 1989, this building – along with the Central University Library  – was the most seriously damaged of the city’s cultural institutions, and over a thousand pieces.

of work were destroyed or damaged by gunfire and vandals; some of these have now been repaired, while others are still undergoing restoration. After a massive reconstruction project taking some ten years, the museum reopened its doors in 2000, and now holds a marvellous collection of European and Romanian art. Moreover, there are excellent English captions throughout.