Walking Tour Through the Heart of Little Paris
As promised last week, we continue our virtual walk on Calea Victoriei (Victory Avenue) and visit other interesting sights, representative for Romanian culture and history: an almost 300-years-old church, two of the most popular theaters in Bucharest, and the main cultural institution of the Romanian Army – these are places where you can feel the charm of times when the capital of Romania was known under the nickname of “Little Paris”.
A monument that should always be included in a sightseeing itinerary of Bucharest is Biserica “Adormirea Maicii Domnului” Kreţulescu (“The Assumption of the Virgin Mary” Kreţulescu Church). Chancellor Iordache Kreţulescu and his wife Safta – the daughter of Prince Constantin Brâncoveanu – ordered the construction of the church, which was completed in 1722. The architectural style of the church is called Brâncovenesc style: the building is tall (see photo below) and wide (see first photo of this article), with long columns and arches.
The porch still has the original painting, while the exterior decoration of the building is made of bricks.
Kreţulescu Church is a quiet place near a noisy and busy boulevard, where you can easily escape from the city crowds and imagine stepping into the age of Romanian princes and boyars from the 18-19 centuries.
Teatrul Odeon (Odeon Theatre) was opened in 1946 in a building located on an old boyar property dating from the 17th century (the building itself will celebrate its 100th anniversary this year). Over the years the building had several owners, has changed dramatically and was restored after bombing during the Second World War.
The theater has several rooms, but most impressive is the Majestic Hall, which on its inauguration date was one of the most modern in Europe: an elegant and refined location, host of many world-famous performances through the years.
Constantin Tănase Theatre
Across the street from Odeon Theatre, you will find another symbol of modern Romanian culture: Teatrul Constantin Tănase (Constantin Tănase Theatre). This nearly a century-old theatre, named after the great Romanian actor Constantin Tănase, had always had an impressive repertoire of comedy shows, cabaret, music festivals and ballet shows. Constantin Tănase was the symbol of cabaret and comedy show industry in Romania, in the early 20th century. He was known for his strong character and for satirizing the Red Army; in fact, rumor had it that the actor’s officially “accidental” death in 1945 occurred after performing in a show that was considered “too bold” for that time.
National Military Club Palace
At the intersection of Calea Victoriei and Regina Elisabeta Boulevard you will find Palatul Cercul Militar Naţional (National Military Club Palace) – the main cultural institution of the Romanian Army. Construction of the palace began in 1911 and was completed in 1923, when it was inaugurated by King Ferdinand I of Romania and Queen Marie of Romania.
On the outside, the building is impressive in size, decorations, statues, fountains and gardens of flowers, while on the inside, the beauty and elegance of the salons (one of which is hosting a well-known restaurant of Bucharest) will capture everyone’s eyes: the Marble Hall (a masterpiece of Romanian architecture, decorated with antique military artefacts like swords, spears, shields and statues of gods and goddesses), the Byzantine Hall (with arcades, golden friezes and wall frescoes), the Mauri Hall (with walls dressed in wood paneling), the Gothic Hall (decorated with Gothic designs and chandeliers) and more.
The palace also houses the National Military Library as well as art exhibitions.
To end your walk on Calea Victoriei in a very pleasant way, we recommend stopping at one of the restaurants or terraces on the streets adjacent to the avenue and ordering two delicious romanian dishes: sarmale cu mămăliguţă (stuffed cabbage rolls with polenta) and papanaşi cu smântână si dulceaţă de vişine (cottage cheese donuts with sour cream and cherries jam) for dessert.
Make sure you check out our Flickr account as we will soon upload the full series of photos from Calea Victoriei.
Posted on: July 7, 2011