Palace of Parliament (EC 2023 Gala venue)
The Palace of Parliament is the world’s second-largest administrative building (after the Pentagon) and former dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu’s most infamous creation.
Started in 1984 (and still unfinished), the 330,000-sq-metre building has more than 3000 rooms. Entry is by guided tour only (book ahead).
The exquisite Athenaeum is the majestic heart of Romania’s classical-music tradition. Scenes from Romanian history are featured on the interior fresco inside the Big Hall on the 1st floor; the dome is 41m high. A huge appeal dubbed ‘Give a Penny for the Athenaeum’ saved it from disaster after funds dried up in the late 19th century. Today it’s home to the George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra and normally only open during concerts, but you can often take a peek inside.
National Village Museum
On the shores of Herăstrău Lake, this museum is a terrific open-air collection of several dozen homesteads, churches, mills and windmills relocated from rural Romania. Built in 1936 by royal decree, it is one of Europe’s oldest open-air museums and a good choice for kids to boot.
The Royal Palace / National Art Museum
The actual edifice, dating from 1937, replaced a previous building, which was for decades the power centre of the Romanian monarchy. At his arrival in the country, Prince Carol found on the spot a rather modest Princely residence. After Romania was proclaimed a Kingdom in 1881, the decision was made to extend the palace.
The Arch of Triumph
The Arch of Triumph, built between 1921 and 1922 following the project of the architect Petre Antonescu, is a symbol of Romania’s victory in the First World War. The edifice also symbolically links Bucharest to the old Rome – the civilization that imposed the Arch of Triumph as a symbol of victory.
The Arch of Triumph means more than the victory in the First World War, and is considered as the sign of the unity of all Romanians.