Published on March 10, 2014
Bucharest is the capital municipality, the cultural, industrial, and financial centre of Romania. Located in the southeast of the country, it is the largest city in Romania, which lies on the banks of the Dâmboviţa River and less than 70 kilometres north from the Danube.
Bucharest was first mentioned in documents in 1459. It became the capital of Romania in 1862 and it is the centre of Romanian media, culture and art. Its architecture is a mix of historical (neo-classical), interbellum (Bauhaus and Art Deco), Communist-era and modern. 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".
Bucharest is the 6th largest city in the European Union by population within city limits, after London, Berlin, Madrid, Rome and Paris. The city proper is administratively known as "The Municipality of Bucharest", and has the same administrative level as that of a national county, being further subdivided into six sectors.
In the centre of the capital there is a small artificial lake – Lake Cișmigiu – surrounded by the Cişmigiu Gardens. The Cişmigiu Gardens have a rich history, being frequented by poets and writers. Opened in 1847 and based on the plans of the German architect Carl F.W. Meyer, the gardens are the main recreationa facility in the city centre. Besides Cișmigiu, Bucharest contains other parks and gardens, including the Herăstrău Park and the Botanica Garden. The park is located in the northern part of the city, around Lake Herăstrău, and includes also the site of the Village Museum. The Botanical Garden is the largest of its kind in Romania and contains over 10,000 species of plants (many of them exotic) and used to be once the pleasure park of the royal family.
Bucharest has landmark buildings and monuments. The most prominent of these is the Palace of the Parliament, built in the 1980s. The largest Parliament building in the world, the Palace houses the Romanian Parliament (the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate), as well as the National Museum of Contemporary Art. The building boasts one of the largest convention centres in the world.
Another landmark in Bucharest is the Arch of Triumph, built in its current form in 1935 and modeled after the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
The Romanian Athenaeum building is considered to be a symbol of Romanian culture and since 2007 is on the list of the Label of European Heritage sights.
The National Museum of Art of Romania is perhaps the best-known of Bucharest museums. It is located in the royal palace and features collections of medieval and modern Romanian art, including works by sculptor Constantin Brâncuşi, as well as an international collection assembled by the Romanian royal family.
The palace of the National Bank of Romania houses the national numismatic collection. Exhibits include banknotes, coins, documents, photographs, maps, silver and gold bullion bars, bullion coins, dies and moulds. The building was constructed between 1884 and 1890. The thesaurus room contains notable marble decorations.
The Museum of Romanian History is another important museum in Bucharest, containing a collection of artefacts detailing Romanian history and culture from the prehistoric times, Dacian era, medieval times and the modern era.
Constructed from 1888-93 at the behest of Romania's first king, Carol I, Cotroceni Palace has since 1991 been the official residence of the Romanian President.
Bucharest has two internationally renowned ethnographic museums, the Museum of the Romanian Peasant and the open-air Village Museum. The Village Museum contains 272 authentic buildings and peasant farms from all over Romania.
The Museum of the Romanian Peasant was declared the European Museum of the Year in 1996, and displays textiles (especially costumes), icons, ceramics, and other artifacts of Romanian peasant life.
Other cultural venues include the Museum of Natural History "Grigore Antipa", the National Museum of Firemen and the National Military Museum.
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