With the curious mix of old and modern, elegant and brutal, one old and crucial element of Bucharest has survived changes that were so drastic elsewhere in the city: Cismigiu Gardens. Once swamps where a pump was installed to provide for drinking water (cismigiu translates freely as manager of public fountains), Cismigiu Gardens were inaugurated in the mid-19th century as the first city park, and has remained the largest park of central Bucharest ever since. The swamps were conquered, the park was to have a formal and a romantic part - and it still has. The western side has long, straight lanes, with neatly planted trees and flowers, statues, while the eastern part has curving paths, lakes, and is generally less strictly organized and more picturesque.
The architect of the park, Viennese Carl Friedrich Wilhelm Meyer, fell in love with the city, had a relationship with an army commander and died in the city at a young age. Trees were taken from other parts of Romania and planted in the park, it held a small zoo, and it soon became an important place for the inhabitants of Bucharest to meet. Cismigiu Gardens was the place to go for a stroll, for a moment of peace, for a chat with friends, or - inevitably - for lovers. The size of the park, 17 hectares, means it is big enough to hide, yet small enough to walk through. The park is littered with statues, for famous Romanian cultural persons, for French soldiers killed in action in Romania during the First World War, and others.
Not much has changed over the years. When I first visited Cismigiu Gardens in the mid-1980s, it was cold, but still I found many people taking a walk in the park. During my last visit, the autumn weather was perfect, and I saw scenes that I could have seen a hundred years ago: old Romanians chatting on one of the many benches of the park, an drunken man hanging over a bench, completely wasted, girls playing hide and seek, Romanian men playing chess and other games, young couples walking circling the park, looking for a secluded spot where they could exchange their passionate kisses. Bucharest has known many changes in the last 150 years; Cismigiu Gardens is a beacon the people can trust will be there for them.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Cismigiu Gardens (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 Cismigiu Gardens.
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