While much of Bucharest consists of grey apartment blocks which look pretty depressing and monotonous after being built on the ruins of old quarters, one area of the capital city survived the Ceaușescu years and time. The historic quarter of Lipscani is constructed where Prince Vlad Țepeș (better known as Dracula) built a citadel, of which you can still see some remaining ruins. While much of the city was rebuilt during the Ceaușescu dictatorship, bulldozering away entire quarters of the city and even moving some buildings to other places, the historic quarter is still there. The Revolution of 1989 was on time to prevent also this area from destruction: it was destined to be bulldozered away as well.
Lipscani is actually a street named after Leipzig (Lipsca in old Romanian), the German city from where many goods were imported that were traded in this area. A lot of traditional professionals lived here: shoemakers, tanners, goldsmiths, etc. Currently, the main building is the National Bank, an enormous and new structure. When you turn a corner from Lipscani going south, you immediately enter the historic quarter. Cobble-stone streets, old houses - most of which badly in need of repair, some empty, some still inhabited. The atmosphere changes, too: from the busy streets with lots of traffic you end up in the village-like, laid back streets of this picturesque area.
Some of the street names still now carry the name of traditional professions: for example Selari, Blanari. I found the atmosphere pleasant; people walking everywhere, having a chat in the middle of the street, looking out from their balconies, children playing, almost no traffic, and the attractive buildings lining the streets. I passed the Curtea Veche, royal court in the Middle Ages, the oldest church of the city, and the citadel that was closed for visitors. At the end of Franceză street I also found the enormous Hanul lui Manuc. Originally a caravanserai in the early 19th century, it has been converted in a hotel but still looks authentic, with wooden stairs, arches and a large courtyard. The historic quarter of Bucharest may not be very large, it definitely deserves a visit - and a long-awaited restoration program by the authorities.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Lipscani historic quarter (). 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 Lipscani historic quarter.
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