Bucharest is the capital and largest city of Romania.
It is located in the southeast of the country on the banks of the Dâmbovi?a River, less than 60 km (37.3 mi) north of the Danube River and the Bulgarian border.
As of December 2018, the population of Bucharest is about 2.4 million people.
Bucharest covers an area of 226 square kilometers (87 square miles).
The altitude varies from 55.8 m (183.1 ft) at the Dâmbovița bridge in Cățelu, southeastern Bucharest and 91.5 m (300.2 ft) at the Militari church.
Bucharest was first mentioned in 1459 in a document issued by the court of Prince Vlad the Impaler, the prince (voievod in Romanian) who allegedly inspired the creation of the world renowned character of Dracula.
The story goes, however, that Bucharest was founded several centuries earlier, by a controversial and rather legendary character named Bucur (from where the name of the city is said to derive).
Bucur was a prince, an outlaw, a fisherman, a shepherd, or a hunter, according to different legends. In Romanian, the word stem bucurie means “joy” (“happiness”), and it is believed to be of Dacian origin.
It became the capital of Romania in 1862 and is the center of Romanian media, culture, and art.
In the period between the two World Wars, the city’s elegant architecture and the sophistication of its elite earned Bucharest the nickname of “Little Paris” or “Paris of the East.”
Today, its architecture is a mix of historical (neo-classical), interbellum (Bauhaus and art deco), communist-era and modern.
The Old Town is one of Bucharest’s earliest settlements, where structures date back to the 15th and 16th centuries. Throughout time, it was the seat of Romanian princes, a center for trade, a place to worship, and a crossroads for travelers. It managed to survive Ceausescu’s 1980s razing of one fifth of the city to build his vision of a new Socialist capital. After spending decades as a slum, much of the Old Town has been gentrified and renovated.
The Palace of the Parliament is one of the top tourist attractions in Bucharest. It is the world’s second largest administrative building (after the Pentagon), an architectural colossus that also claims title as the heaviest building in the world. Boasting more than 3,000 rooms over 330,000 square meters and constructed with marble and steel, it was originally called the People’s House by its visionary, the former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, who used it as his family’s residence and as the seat of his government. To complete it, he razed places of worship, workshops, factories, parks, part of the Old Town, and entire neighborhoods. More than 20,000 workers and 700 architects worked on the opulent Neoclassical-style palace over a span of 13 years while Romanians faced poverty.
Another landmark in Bucharest is Arcul de Triumf (The Triumphal Arch), built in its current form in 1935 and modeled after the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. It was made from wood and dedicated to the Romanian soldiers who fought in World War I. In 1936, it was reconstructed in granite and designed by architect Petre Antonescu at a height of 27 meters (89 feet).
The Romanian Athenaeum is a concert hall in the center of Bucharest. Opened in 1888, the ornate, domed, circular building is the city’s main concert hall and home of the “George Enescu” Philharmonic and of the George Enescu annual international music festival.
Herăstrău Park or King Michael I Park is a large park on the northern side of Bucharest, around Lake Herăstrău, one of the lakes formed by the Colentina River. The park has an area of about 187 hectares (462 acres), of which 74 hectare (183 acres) is the lake. Initially, the area was full of marshes, but these were drained between 1930 and 1935, and the park was opened in 1936.
The Village Museum is an open-air ethnographic museum located in the Herăstrău Park, showcasing traditional Romanian village life. The museum extends to over 100,000 square meters (1,070,000 square feet), and contains 272 authentic peasant farms and houses from all over Romania.
Bucharest is the seat of the Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church, one of the Eastern Orthodox churches in communion with the Patriarch of Constantinople, and also of its subdivisions, the Metropolis of Muntenia and Dobrudja and the Archbishopric of Bucharest. Orthodox believers consider Demetrius Basarabov to be the patron saint of the city.
Bucharest has a growing cultural scene, in fields including the visual arts, performing arts, and nightlife.
Performing arts are some of the strongest cultural elements of Bucharest.
A number of cultural festivals are held in Bucharest throughout the year, but most festivals take place in June, July, and August.
A native or resident of Bucharest is called a “Bucharester.”