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Flag of Bucharest
National Military Circle in Bucharest

Bucharest (Romanian: București) is the capital municipality, cultural, industrial, and financial centre of Romania. It is the largest city in Romania, and lies on the banks of the Dâmbovița River, less than 70 kilometres (43 mi) north of the Danube River. Bucharest is the 6th largest city in the European Union by population within city limits, after London, Berlin, Madrid, Rome, and Paris.

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  • Bucharest must have been a beautiful city once. It is now in a state of mouldering decay. The big houses on leafy boulevards look as if they have not been touched by a paintbrush for sixty years. The yards are choked with weeds. The pollution is stifling and it has stained every building in the city. After decades of oppression, however, the people of Romania now have a democracy, and the government is encouraging significant legal reform. Today's students are engaging and fluent in English. Their confidence bespeaks an optimism that Romania's democracy will succeed and that Bucharest, once heralded as the Paris of the Balkans, will flower again.
    • Philip S. Anderson, ABA Journal, Volume 84, p. 8, September 1998


  • Even the city's most ardent fans don't quite maintain the old saw, the "Paris of the East." That was Bucharest's nickname in the decades before World War II, when the art nouveau palaces and architecture really were reminiscent of Paris. Decades of communist misrule and a tragic earthquake in 1977 brought much of the old city down, but there are places here and there where that former elegance can still be glimpsed.
  • Like more than half the traffic lights in Bucharest, this one on the busy corner of Boulevard Nicolae Balcescu is dead. In the freezing fog, sputtering Rumanian-made Dacia sedans are lurching every which way, horns honking.
  • And food lines? At least the queues are for food, say Rumanians, savoring their first beefburgers in memory. Ceausescu drove his subjects to fisticuffs over rations of offal and chicken feet. Food and freedom have in many ways restored the soul to Bucharest, whose soot-covered older buildings and hideous concrete towers bear witness to how hard Ceausescu tried to kill the city's spirit. The dimly lit cafés in which couples two months ago whispered fearfully over mugs of ersatz tea now ring with gossip over cups of real coffee.
  • I am standing by my guns, Mr. Schwartzer. There is no such place as Budapest. Perhaps you are thinking of Bucharest, and there is no such place as Bucharest, either.
    • Robert Benchley, American humourist and actor, "What--No Budapest?", San Francisco Examiner, p. 17, November 28, 1934 - via "The Benchley Roundup: A Selection by Nathaniel Benchley of His Favorites", p. 202, 1984
  • The escalating pace of the change that seemed graspable was indicated by a slogan of the Velvet Revolution: ‘Poland – ten years, Hungary – ten months, German Democratic Republic – ten weeks, Czechoslovakia – ten days’. The public nature of the pressure for change was important as it could be captured by a domestic media no longer under state control, as well as by the international media. Scenes of East Germans travelling West were followed by those of the demolition of the Berlin Wall. In December 1989, in turn, they were succeeded by demonstrators in the capital Bucharest booing Nicolae Ceauşescu, the Romanian dictator, when he spoke in public. Abetted by the vicious Secret Police, he sought to resist reform by the use of force against demonstrators. However, Ceauşescu was overthrown after mass demonstrations. The army, which played a key role, providing force sufficient to overawe the Secret Police, was responsible for his execution on Christmas Day.


  • "Little Paris," as Bucharest was once called, became "Ceaușwitz."
  • I went out onto the streets, expecting to see a nervous city that had recently been at war. But something didn't add up. Bucharest was no Beirut. If anything, it was narcotically peaceful, in a deep green midsummer way. People strolled lazily in the warm evening.
  • In days too long ago now to remember, Romania was a breadbasket and among the largest corn producers in the world, and Bucharest was lush with fruits, vegetables and every delicacy. But the bankrupt economy of the Ceaucescu had stripped the city of private markets and virtually everything green, for that matter. It's all been replaced by by a sea of concrete tenements webbed over with television antennas.


  • Bucharest is like cilantro, a Romanian resident once told me: You either love it or hate it. But there's much to love about a city that provides a less-expensive taste of Europe (Romania is in the European Union but not in the eurozone). Still grappling with allegations of government corruption and working to rebound from layers of grim history, the present-day capital remains a bit rough around the edges, but offers a rich ethnic culture, a resurgent arts and crafts scene, beautiful parks and a booming night life.


  • Rome is famous for its stray cats, New York for its rats. But in Bucharest, the streets have gone to the dogs.
    • Paul Geitner, Dogs hog the roads of Bucharest,[2] The Associated Press via The Tuscaloosa News, Vol. 179, No. 332, p. 1D, November 28, 1997
  • Bucharest is a faded old gal in a raggedy coat. Once called the "Little Paris of the East," she has long lost her finery. A few parks and buildings dream of past grandeur, but the picture is spoiled by concrete and steel mementoes of Communism on every side.
    • Vila Gingerich, White Horse to Bucharest: Lessons Romania Taught Us, 2020


  • Bukarest sieht man auch all die historischen Umbrüche an, all die Verletzungen, weswegen es Liebeserklärungen umso dringender nötig hat. Um in angemessene Stimmung zu kommen, geht man am besten zu Fuß. Andere Städte sind ja ohnehin schon zu Tode flaniert. Berlin, London, Barcelona. Allein deshalb, entgegen möglicher Empfehlungen von Einheimischen: Bukarest, Flaneurshauptstadt Europas.
    • Bucharest wears its checkered history on its sleeve, flaunts its scars. It deserves a declaration of love. The best way to get into the Bucharest mood is to take a walk. Other cities have been explored on foot to death. Berlin, London, Barcelona. For that reason alone, contrary to the locals' explicit recommendations, Bucharest merits the epithet "Europe's Flaneur Capital."


  • Two thousand thirteen, Bucharest is glittering. It's a mish-mash. It's got a lot of bad new architecture. Some good new architecture. Beautiful new Plexiglas, Vancouver-like buildings right next to vacant lots because, you know, this is part of the corruption, the property regime, who owns what after Communism has still not been resolved in many places, so you have vacant lots because nobody can legally determine who the owner is, so it hasn't been built upon. It's a mish-mash.


  • I came to Bucharest with a troupe of conquering heroes and I leave here with a troupe of gigolos and racketeers.
    • German Field Marshal August von Mackensen, on the moral effects of the German occupation of Bucharest during the World War I, R.G. Waldeck - "Athene Palace Bucharest: Hitler's New Order Comes to Rumania", Chapter XI "Military Mission", p. 187, 1943


  • One sixth of Bucharest was demolished to make way for a Pyongyang-in-Romania that the Conducător envisaged. The resulting masterpiece/disaster (*delete according to your achitectural preferences) covers 5 hectares and is roughly 1km wide and 5km long. All the damage caused by the bombing of World War II and the 1977 earthquake only equates to 18% of the destruction rained on Bucharest by Ceaușescu's wrecking balls and bulldozers which levelled countless historic buildings, (250 hectares of the new city lies on what were considered to be historical districts), including churches, monasteries and synagogues and even a statue attributed to Gustave Eiffel. After the end product — well, not quite the end product since 1989 Revolution intervened before it could be properly finished — has been christened 'Ceaușima', a contraction of 'Ceaușescu's Hiroshima' by the locals.
    • Matthew E. Pointon, The Missing Link, p. 201, 2017


  • Bucharest (or Bucuresci, pron. Bukureshti), the capital of Wallachia and of the whole of Rumania, already numbers amongst the great cities of Europe. Next to Constantinopole and Buda-Pest, it is the most populous town of South-eastern Europe, and its inhabitants fondly speak of it as the "Paris of the Orient." The town not very long since was hardly more than a collection of villages, very picturesque from a distance on account of numerous towers and glittering domes rising above the surrounding verdure, but very unpleasant within. Bucharest has been transformed rapidly with the increasing wealth of its inhabitants. It may boast now of wide and clean streets, bounded by fine houses, of public squares full of animation, and of well-kept parks, and fully deserves now its sobriquet of the "joyful city."
    • Élisée Reclus, The Earth and Its Inhabitants: Europe, Vol. I, p. 168, 1882


  • To my mind, imperialism is something very simple and clear and it exists as a fact when one country, a large country, seizes a certain strip of territory and subjects to its laws a certain number of men and women against their will. Soviet policy after the beginning of the second world war was precisely this. There is no difficulty in pointing this out, but the difficulty lies in the fact that when one quotes from memory one will forget one or other argument. Because the Russians, thanks to the second world war, have quite simply annexed the three Baltic States, taken a piece of Finland, a piece of Rumania, a piece of Poland, a piece of Germany and, thanks to a well thought-out policy composed of internal subversion and external pressure, have established Governments justifiably styled as Satellites, in Warsaw, Prague, Budapest, Sofia, Bucharest, Tirana and East Berlin - I except Belgrade where the regime is unique thanks to the energy and courage of Marshal Tito. If all this does not constitute manifestations of imperialism, if all this is not the result of a policy consciously willed and consciously pursued, an imperialist aim, then indeed we shall have to start to go back to a new discussion and a new definition of words.
  • At the confluence of East and West, Bucharest rose above its communist past into a city whose historical influences are reflected in the contrasting architectural fusion, a traditional-meets-modern outlook, and a stream of social happenings.


  • To this and other disasters, Romanians reacted (and still react) with glum jokes: Bucharest became Ceaushwitz, Ceaushima, Paranopolis; the dynasty that ruled them represented socialism in one family. But gallows themselves were less evident than gallows humor.

References and notes[edit]

  1. Titled as The "New" Romania on page 2 of the same issue of the magazine, under the "Traveling Fare" section
  2. Titled "Dogs hog the road in Bucharest." on the front page (p. 1A) of The Tuscaloosa News Movember 28, 1997 issue; "Hungry dogs roam the streets of Bucharest" in The Deseret News, Year 148, No. 166, p. A4, November 27, 1997 and "Canine mob packs the streets of Bucharest" in the Greensboro News & Record.

External links[edit]

Encyclopedic article on Bucharest on Wikipedia

The dictionary definition of Bucharest on Wiktionary

Bucharest travel guide from Wikivoyage

Media related to Bucharest on Wikimedia Commons