Aug 212009

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Continuing the nightly walk along Victory Road, at number 40 we find a little square with a fountain and in the background the beautiful building of the Odeon Theater. I researched the history of the building before writing this post and found out that the building and the piece of land it’s built on changed many hands and was used for many things during the years. I guess that’s probably normal for a piece of land with such a good location. In the end I decided to spare you all the little details regarding ownership and functionality. It’s Friday and it’s time for having fun rather than a history lesson. I’ll only say that the theater was built in 1911 and that its auditorium is probably the most elegant among all of Bucharest’s theaters. The statue in the foreground is that of Kemal Ataturk, the founder and first president of the Republic of Turkey.

Aug 202009

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Most regular people hate corruption for the obvious reasons but there are exceptions, like the person who made this drawing on a building on Doamnei Street. “I “heart” corruption” reads the inscription. Maybe he’s working in a government office? 🙂 I rather hope he’s being sarcastic.

Aug 192009

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… double the value of a Trabant?
A: Fill up the tank!

Q. How many workers does it take to build a Trabi?
A. Two, one to fold and one to paste.

Q. Why do some Trabants have heated rear windows?
A. To keep your hands warm when pushing.

The Trabant… this wonderful piece of East German engineering 🙂 The east’s answer to Volkswagen, the butt of all jokes, the most common vehicle in East Germany, exported largely to countries inside the communist block. I used to see many of them in Bucharest back in the 80s but now weeks can pass before I see one. They are in fact slowly disappearing. My guess is that the only people that still drive a Trabant in Bucharest are the fans, the enthusiasts, the nostalgic, the ones that want to look different. With the new anti-pollution laws concerning cars, I’m guessing it must cost a lot to keep one registered. I could say that at least in Romania they have already become collector’s items. I always thought they looked cute and I’m sorry that I never had the chance to drive or ride in a Trabant. But it looks like the Trabant is being revamped in the form of a new all-electric, eco-friendly wonder according to this article.

Aug 172009

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What does a citizen of Bucharest do if it’s nice outside and it’s a Sunday? A lot of them are heading for one of the city’s parks to chill in the shade on a wooden bench, talk to friends, play some volleyball, walk hand in hand with their sweethearts, play with other kids (if we’re talking about the little citizens), listen conversations of their neighbourgs, watch the old people play chess, rent a boat, check out other people’s outfits, drink a beer if there’s a beer garden nearby (there always is one), take pictures (like myself), rollerblade or ride the bicycle, jogg, walk the dog (if it’s allowed), feed the geese or swans or ducks, smell the flowers etc. Today’s photo shows the central alley in Carol Park on a Sunday. And as an added bonus, aside from the greenery and the people, there’s something else for you to enjoy in the picture: a piece of communist architecture, the mausoleum built in the honor of … hold your breath … “the heroes who fought for the freedom of the people and of the motherland and for socialism”. You can breathe now. I’m not kidding, that was the name of the monument during the communist regime. It was built in 1963 and until 1991 it housed the remains of many communist leaders. Nowadays the mausoleum contains the remains of soldiers fallen in WWI and has been dedicated to the Unknown Soldier. In front of it there’s a small monument flanked by guards where an eternal flame is burning.

Aug 162009

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Bucharest is not a city of bright colors, most of its buildings are somber affairs in different shades of grey, white or at most a pale yellow. But it seems like this building in June 11 Square is trying to remedy the situation. With its crazy colors and unusual architecture it looks like an alien has landed in the square. I was curious to find out more details, who built it, the name of the architect etc. but the buildings looks like it’s still in construction and nobody was around that could shed some light for me.

Aug 152009

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I found this graffiti on Lipscani Street, in the Old Town. I think it predates the death of the artist on June 25th but now it can be viewed as a nice homage to Michael, who concerted in Bucharest twice, in 1992 when he sang in front of 70,000 people and then again in 1996. He was the first big artist to sing in Bucharest after the fall of communism and I still remember the hysteria that surrounded his visit.

Aug 142009

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A bit off the Revolution Square, on the corner of Dem Dobrescu Street, lies one of the weirdest looking buildings in Bucharest. It’s the former Directia V Securitate building (Securitate was the secret police of communist Romania, the equivalent of KGB in Russia or Stasi in East Germany) and the current headquarters of the Romanian Architects’ Association. The lower part of the building are the remnant walls of the house (cca. 1890) which housed the secret police and was destroyed during the Romanian anti-communist Revolution of 1989. In 2003 the Romanian Architects’ Association built a modern building inside and on top of these ruins, the project being designed by architects Zeno Bogdănescu and Dan Marin. The building, like any solution of this type, created controversy and searching the web I found many forums where it was called “hideos”, “ugly” etc and people were saying that no wonder Bucharest is the arhitectural hodgepodge that it is, since its architects have chosen to have their headquarters in a buidling like this. But I think this attitude is a bit unfair. I mean, what was the alternative? The building was severely damaged and at the price of real estate in downtown Bucharest, the building shell would have been demolished and replaced with a glass structure like the upper part of this building. But in this way the history was preserved and it makes people wonder about the building’s past. Even though I can’t bring myself to say that I absolutely like it, I would have to admit that it’s an innovative solution.

Aug 132009

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I guess it is time for another postcard picture. This is the former Royal Palace located along Victory Road, in the northwestern corner of the Revolution Square. It was first built around 1815 by prince Dinicu Golescu and it underwent changes over several decades. The building was remodeled in 1882-1885 after plans by the French architect Paul Gottereau only to be rebuilt in 1930-1938 after being damaged in a fire in 1926. Starting with 1948 the palace houses the National Art Museum and it displays an extensive collection of Romanian and European art dating from the 15th to the 20th century. The building was damaged during the events of December 1989 and was closed for repairs for several years.

Aug 122009

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If you walk around in downtown Bucharest you can spot many graffiti, especially in the Old Town. About three years ago I started noticing them and now I see them everywhere. They are very colourful and most of the time they improve the look of the buildings or at least make them less somber. The one in the photo is located to the left of the entrance to Cărtureşti, on Magheru boulevard. I have no idea who the artist is and I’m still trying to decipher its message. Too bad that part of it is covered by the renovation work done on the facade of the bookstore.