Paris of the East looks Westward
Fragments of Bucharest
Photographs by Eddie Gerald Text by Adrian Fisher
From elegant medieval palaces to baroque cottages and neo-classical houses, a tour of the architecture of Bucharest, Romania is a time travel through the architectural history of Europe. Few cities in the world offer a more diverse and eclectic collection of monuments and buildings.
Much of this diversity is found in Bucharest’s historic Lipscani district, which for centuries was the cultural, political and commercial hub of Bucharest. Since 2008, many buildings here have gone through intense and detailed renovations restoring them to their original beauty, a beauty in no small part responsible for Bucharest being dubbed ‘The Paris of the East’.
Here, one can visit the ruins of Curtea Veche (the Old Court), a palace constructed in the 15th Century during the reign of Prince Vlad III Dracula, the inspiration for novelist Bram Stoker’s prototypical vampire. Once home to the Romanian nobility, Curtea Veche is now a popular museum and the most prominent symbol of Bucharest’s renewed dedication to the preservation of its cultural history.
Bucharest is the seat of the patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church and provides a majestic tapestry of religious and architectural landmarks. Another architectural treasure found in Lipscani is the 18th Century Stravropoleos Church, an intimate and ornate house of worship. Eastern Orthodox services are still conducted here every Sunday, just as they have since its construction in 1724, the sounds of the Byzantine choir echoing through the ornately carved arches surrounding its small courtyard.