Going for a stroll in a park is a way of life for the residents of Bucharest in any season. Bucharest has quite a few parks and lakes. The majority of the parks have access to water which adds more beauty and activities to the place. Each park is unique in its own way and was designed with a different purpose in mind when it was built during different time periods. I selected parks that I believed they were rich in history and would offer you a good experience. Let me tell you about Carol Park that is one of the oldest and most beautiful parks in Bucharest.
First, a short history lesson so you can understand why Carol Park is my first choice. Who was Carol? Charles I or Carol I was the first king of Romania. He ruled from 1866 to 1914. He was a Prussian Prince (northern German) that replaced Alexandru Ioan Cuza, the former Domnitor (ruler) of the United Romanian Principalities. When Cuza got expelled from the country by the leading noblemen, Romania was in danger of breaking up. Romanian politicians’ decision to choose Carol as their ruler was heavily influenced by Napoleon III of France with which Carol’s family was in very good terms. This meant more political stability for Romania that was strongly influenced by French culture.
King Carol I ruled for 48 years, the longest time in the history of Romania. Shortly after his coronation, the Romanian parliament adopted a constitution, that was one of the most advanced constitutions at that time that helped Romania develop and modernize. During King Carol I’s reign, Romania gained its independence from the Ottoman Empire, remedied its economical issues, raised its prestige, and became a monarchy.
I did not learn about King Carol I when I went to school in Romania. The time period starting with the historic circumstances of his reign and three more generations of kings descending from the same royal family had been removed from the history books. My mom grew up during the reigns of King Carol II and King Michael I who was the last king before the communist regime took over. She tried not to talk too much about it and when she did nothing was making any sense to me.
Carol Park offers a very important piece of Romanian history that could not be missed if you are a history lover. It was designed by the French architect Eduard Redont in 1900 and opened to the public in 1906 on the Hill of Filaret. It was inaugurated on the 40th anniversary of the coronation of King Carol I. It was built to host the Bucharest Jubilee Exhibition in 1906 and showcase Romania’s economic progress during King Carol I’s reign. The park offers impressive and panoramic views with lots of vegetation. It has officially been considered a historical monument since 2004.
Video: http://www.animoto.com, song: Believe by Windsor Drive, photos including King Carol I’s portrait: Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
Slideshow photos and their explanation in order:
1. (by Stefan Jurca from Munich, Germany) – During the communist regime the park’s name was changed to Parcul Libertatii or The Liberty Park and Mausoleul or Mausoleum‘s name was also changed. The mausoleum was built in the honor of revolutionary socialist militants and was inaugurated on December 30, 1963 at the 16th anniversary of the Romanian People’s Republic. In 1991, the socialists and communists that were buried here were exhumed and interred in other cemeteries. They were replaced by the remains of soldiers fallen in World War I that were brought from Marasesti Mausoleum that contains remains of Romanian soldiers and officers killed in the World War I.
2. (Public Domain) – Some of the park’s landscape
3. (by Leontin I.) – A Cannon that is guarding The Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier
4 and 5 (Public Domain) – The Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier was inaugurated in 1923 in the memory of Romanian soldiers fallen in World War I. During the communist regime, it was dismantled and moved to Marasesti. In 1991, it was returned to the park to be moved again in 2007 closer to its original location.
6 (Public Domain) and 7 (by Bogdan Caraman) – Zodiac Fountain can be found in the same place as it was at the park’s inauguration in 1906. It guards the park entrance.
8. (Public Domain) – George Gr. Cantacuzino Fountain was built in 1870 at the request of Gheorghe Grigore Cantacuzino who was the mayor of Bucharest at that time. It was built in a neoclassical style by the architect Al. Freiwald and the sculptor Karl Storck who also made one of the Giants. Cantacuzino himself paid for the construction of the fountain.
9. (Public Domain) – Fountain Of Mines And Quarries (own translation of Fintina minelor si carierelor) or Fountain 1906 was made with stones brought from quarries located in remote places of the country by the Ministerul Agriculturii, Industriei, Comertului si Domeniilor.
10. (Public Domain) – The Giant by Frederic Storck
11. (by Ana Zecheru) – The Sleeping Beauty by Filip Marin
12. (by Miehs) – The Giant by Dumitru Paciurea
The legend says that there were two Giants and a Sleeping Beauty (Fecioara adormita) that were watching a cave named “The Giants’ Grotto”(Grota cu Giganti or Grota fermecata). The twins fell in love with the same woman. The Sleeping Beauty wanted to know which twin loved her the most. She jumped into the water and waited to be saved. Unfortunately, she drowned waiting and her body turned into a waterfall. The Giants were turned into stone due to their unrequited love. Originally, the sculptures of the Giants were displayed one before the other with the Sleeping Beauty lying down in the middle in front of a man made cave. Later on, the sculptures got separated. The Sleeping Beauty was moved to Herastrau Park. I included the photo in the video because it was part of the Giants’ story.
13. (by Andrei Stroe) – Dimitrie Leonida Technical Museum is the World first technical interactive museum (Wikipedia). Dimitrie Leonida was a visionary and creative engineer that founded the first school for training electricians and mechanics in Romania.
14. (Public Domain) – Astronomical Institute Of The Romanian Academy was founded in 1908 and is the only one with full astronomic profile in Romania.
15 (by Razvan Socol) and 16 (by Alstyle) – Replica Of Vlad Tepes Castle from Poenari, Arges District shelters a water reservoir. King Carol I decided to conceal it and chose the model of Vlad Tepes’ second residence that served as an observation tower to warn the locals against the Ottoman Empire’s attacks.
Photo: Vlad Tepes Castle, Poenari, Arges District by Beata Jankowska, Public Domain (Wikimedia Commons)
17. (by Christian Chirita) – Gogu Constantinescu Bridge was designed by G. Constantinescu and is the first concrete bridge with straight beams that was built in Romania. Gogu Constantinescu was a scientist, engineer, and inventor that created The Theory Of Sonics, a new branch of continuum mechanics, in which he described the transmission of mechanical energy through vibrations.
18. (by Miehs) – Open Air Roman Arena is an outside theater that nowadays plays host to concerts. Its capacity is about 5000 seats.
19. (Public Domain) – Alexandru Sahia (bust) was a communist journalist and short story author (Wikipedia).
20. (Public Domain) – Constantin I. Istrate (statue) was a chemist and physician. He was president of the Romanian Academy between 1913-1916. He introduced the teaching of organic chemistry at the University of Bucharest.
21. (by Alexandra Hegedus) – Carol Park’s beautiful fall foliage.
In addition, there is a house that was built there before the park had been built and belonged to Constatin Bosianu who used to be a jurist and prime minister for a brief period of time in 1865. Casa Bosianu or Bosianu Vila was home to Alexandru Ioan Cuza around 1859 and a meeting place for politicians where they secretly decided that Cuza was going to be the ruler of the Romanian Principalities. Today, it is part of The Astronomical Institute Of The Romanian Academy property. The house is literally a hidden gem nestled among vegetation that has outgrown and makes it practically impossible to get to it especially in the summer time. Even though it was renovated in 1992 it still looks like it needs some more work. It is sad to know that such a beautiful historic home is very little known to the public. It is much easier to get there from Silver Knife street.
Move cursor on each photo to see description
Inside the park you will also find a Sequoia Gigantea tree that is a considered a natural monument.
Things to do: take walks and admire thousands of species of trees, shrubs and flowers, make a stop and sit on a bench to have a sandwich and/or a cup of coffee, go boating on the small lake in the center of the park, go biking and rollerskating on alleys and enjoy the lush greenery, watch the gratitude flame and the changing of the guards at The Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier, go to concerts at the Roman Arena, and visit the Museums inside the park. Find your way to Bosianu Vila and to the Sequoia tree and take some snapshots! There is an Antique Market that is open every Sunday at the park’s main entrance. If you’re lucky you can find a variety of antiques, old Romanian banknotes, stamps, medals, or books.
Other highlights of the Carol Park area – Biserica Cutitul de Argint or Silver Knife Church with its beautiful frescoesPhoto above: Public Domain (Wikimedia Commons) by Andrei Stroe
and Xenofon Street. This is the only street in the city that has stairs. The painted steps lead to the highest point in Bucharest.Photo above: Public Domain (Wikimedia Commons) by Stefan Jurca
Featured Image: The original Park – Public Domain (Wikimedia Commons)
Sources: Wikipedia and Google search on Romanian history
In Parks of Bucharest also see Where To Find a Nice Green Spot In the Center of Bucharest