After having crossed the street many times on my visits to Bucharest, and after having walked parts of it, and visited several of the landmark buildings located on it, and even having slept numerous times in one of the historical edifices, it was time to actually walk Calea Victoriei in its entire length. It was a bright, sunny summer day when I reached the southern side of this artery of the Romanian capital. Soon enough, I reached the first landmark building: the Cercul Militar National, rising high above street level, with a well-kept flower bed and fountain in front of the neo-classical building. Once housing a casino for military officers, it is now accessible for anyone, and has a restaurant on its terrace. From here, I had a good view on the historical Capsa Hotel, around the corner, I found the Odeon theatre. I knew there was much more on the way north, and continued walking.
Calea Victoriei narrows and widens in various places, and what followed now was a narrow part, which did not last for long though, as I was about to reach Revolution Square. On my left, I found Kretzulescu Church, originally built in 1722, a little below street level, and descended to it to admire its exterior frescoes which are not visible from Calea Victoriei. Right next to the church, a bust of Coposu, one of the Romanian heroes for his anti-communist activities and 17 years spent in prison, and close to the church, a headless statue in memory of the fallen revolutionaries. After all, I was on Revolution Square. I crossed Calea Victoriei once again, to arrive at the tall, modern monument I had seen from a distance: the Rebirth Memorial. From here, I once again saw the Senate building, which housed the Central Committee of the Communist Party during the Ceausescu years. I had still seen it with the inevitable red star on the roof; the same roof from which Ceausescu was airlifted after his infamous speech that failed to appease the people on this same square in December 1989, shortly before being hunted down and executed on Christmas Day. Those revolutionary days are gone, though there are enough pointers to remind the visitor: for instance, the old Securitate building close by, which was largely destroyed during the revolution, and which now is topped by a unique modern extension housing the Architects Union.
From here, I passed the large National Art Museum building, opposite the Central University Library building with a statue of Carol I in front. If these impressive buildings were not enough, I saw the circular and neo-classical Roman Athenaeum building next, and the Athenée Palace hotel which has been incorporated into the Hilton hotel chain. Once a place where spies gathered, especially before World War II, this must be one of the most special buildings in the entire Hilton hotel chain. I have had the opportunity to sleep here often - a special place indeed! Here, Calea Victoriei narrowed again, and I walked further north into unknown territory for me. I passed sections with trees, saw other neo-classical and Renaissance buildings, but also ordinary houses, some of which quite attractive but unfortunately dilapidated, and once again realized that Bucharest is really more beautiful than many visitors might think at first sight. Exploring the city well, it is certainly possible to appreciate its beauty, and Calea Victoriei is probably a very good introduction to the obvious and less well-known sights of the Romanian capital. Walking back the entire Calea Victoriei gave me the opportunity to see all the sights and buildings from the other side.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Calea Victoriei (Romania). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Calea Victoriei. Read more about this site.