Ceci n'est pas une image de l'arc de Triomphe parisien.

Bucharest tries its damnedest to be like Paris.  Believe it or not, I mean this as a compliment.  Unlike the Russians,  the Romanians' emulation of the hexagon was, for the most part, done reasonably well.   Much of the really good architecture antedated Ceaucescu,  whose physical record is a mixture of megalomaniacal monuments & shitty pre-cast apartment blocks.

It's good to be the king:

This image was with the zoom lens pulled all the way back to 28mm & I still could not get all of it into the frame. 

Nicolae decided that there was no way he could ever build the Largest Building on Earth, so he settled for second largest.  The center section was added after completion - Nicky said "Why not three more stories in the middle?"  so they built it.   A spiral staircase was rebuilt (twice!) with shallower steps because he was short and his stubby little legs could not manage the original design.

  We all suspected it was mostly empty behind the facade.    Nicky was afraid of Air Conditioning.  so, Eleana Ceaucescu decreed that air conditioning was unhealthy.  So, once she and Nicky were out of the picture, everyone went out and got air conditioners.  But the buildings were already built, so everyone got ductless split systems (that we don't see too much in the states).  Ductless split systems require an ugly-ass box stuck to an outside wall.

but next to none on the "people's palace".

I counted all of about 10 on the entire building.   It's kinda like looking for illegal sublets in New York - you look for evidence that someone is in there.  In New York, it's cable TV wires.  Bucharest, a/c boxes.  Nobody home here.

Side view.  Really a monstrosity of excess.

readily identifiable in a satellite photo

Some gorgeous apartment buildings encircling the plaza immediately in front of the palace.  40,000 families were forcibly relocated to apartment blocks on the outskirts of Bucharest. 

Our local apologist tour guide said that many Romanians refuse to live there because of the amount of razing Ceaucescu ordered to enable its construction.  Indeed, many of the storefronts at the street were boarded up.


More on the people's palace

This little church was inconveniently in the way. 

To Nicky's credit, he ordered it moved, rather than have it destroyed.


Cantacuzino Palace.  Very nice.   yeah it's wannabe French baroque-y with a dash of rococo for good measure, but still very nice. The use of compound curves on the entry canopy is brilliant.



Cercul Militar National.  Kinda like a VFW hall.   I gotta say the Romanians have done an excellent job of preservation of historic buildings.




The "Economic Palace"



The Cara' cu Bere restaurant.   We were told it was the oldest beer hall in Bucharest.  Apparently it was a literary hangout in its day.  I suspect most of its current clientele is tourists.  Including us.


These two images are of the interior of the Cara' cu Bere.  They give a good impression of the ornate gothic-tutonic woodwork inside.  not my photos.


Bucharest had a that summer.


I think Cow Parades are a good idea, from a civic activity standpoint.  Brightens things up a bit.


Identity issues provoked by the cow parade?

Palaces & pushcarts.

Muzeul National de Arta al Romāniei
Nicely done entrances


Hmmmm.  A bit excessive for a museum?

A page taken from the French Academicism book, but very well executed.


What most struck me about the collection was that about 99% of it was pre-war.  Lots of stuff up to the thirties, then next to nothing after 1944.  My suspicion: A few select artists found political favor during the communist / Ceaucescu era.   These artists were given high visibility at that time.  Once the Ceaucescus were out,  everything  associated with them was denounced.  Denounced, renounced, discredited, toppled, whatever.  Anything tainted by Nicky and Elena was tipped into the bin.  I'm sure that through the seventies and eighties this museum was full of 'works' deemed acceptable by Elena, the smartest juggy on the planet.   So, after the Big Christmas Present of 1989, all these esteemed artistes were purged from the galleries.    I was interested in seeing some of the post-war / Soviet-realism-influenced artwork that was produced in an oppressive environment.   Nothing of the sort to be found here.  I guess it is reasonable for the Romanians to want to eradicate as many memories of Nicky and Elena as possible. 

The national gallery has naked people out front, so it can't be all that uptight.



more France.



This plaza was the scene of the student demonstration that got rather out of hand.

A monument to those chewed up by the Ceaucescu machine.

I don't really know quite what to say.



  1. It's in English.  Bucharest was refreshingly bereft of being overrun with butchered anglicisms.  Given the errors in this ad, I suspect the copy was generated by an American.  Euro-English is usually grammatically correct, but misses the idiom. This copy finesses the idiom reasonably well, but the grammar...
  2. It indicates the growth of retail banking in a country where ten years ago, the typical citizen didn't have two cents to rub together.
  3. It's introducing Romanians to the joys of indebtedness for baubles.  Things = Happy!
  4. Very impressive ramp up to broad scale retail banking, particularly as the bank was organised in 2001: hvb.ro
  5. Most important, it's a Citroen.


outside the hotel.  Nice.

Across the street from the hotel.


Dinner at the gloppy hotel.



more English language infiltration.   I must say the French are not entirely incorrect in their efforts to preserve their language.
Off to Istanbul.
not the most well-planned of airports, at least the land side.  Air side was ok.