5 free things in Romania's capital, Bucharest

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 11, 2013 at 9:36 am •  Published: April 11, 2013
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CISMIGIU GARDENS

Bucharesters traditionally seek refuge in the city's parks during the scorching summer months. Cismigiu is one of the city's oldest gardens and a traditional meeting place for students, lovers and chess players. It boasts an artificial lake, a skating rink in winter, winding paths, a panoply of trees and shrubs and a memorial commemorating French soldiers killed in the city during World War I. It also appears in short stories written by Caragiale.

CHURCHES

Bucharest enjoys a rich multi-faith tradition, revived since 1989, with synagogues, mosques, and Romanian Orthodox churches in every neighborhood. There are also other Christian churches such as the Armenian Church, the Lutheran Church and the red-bricked Anglican Church of the Resurrection, which turns 100 this year. Especially worth visiting are the Roman Catholic St. Joseph's Cathedral, possibly the city's grandest church, the 18th-century Stavropoleos Monastery, which has the largest collection of Byzantine music books in Romania, and the Russian Church, with seven gold domes, funded by Russia's last czar, Emperor Nicholas II.

THE OLD CITY

Once a rundown area, the old city or Centru Vechi, which is basically all that remains of pre-WWII Bucharest, has in recent years become a vibrant quarter for entertainment and tourists, boasting antique shops, theaters, boutique hotels, restaurants, and bars, some of which stay open around the clock in the summer. You can see the neoclassical National Bank of Romania, Hanul lui Manuc, built in 1808, which is both a hotel and traditional Romanian restaurant, and the Caru cu Bere, surely Bucharest's most famous and popular restaurant, with a spectacular interior that's virtually identical to when it was built in 1875.

A final note: Getting around Bucharest is not free, but it's cheap. One good thing Ceausescu did was build the subway, which transports passengers cheaply and efficiently around the capital. Taxis are plentiful and cheap, starting at 1.39 lei (40 cents ) a kilometer (0.6 miles).