Old Town in Bucharest is well-known for outdoor restaurants and cafés lining the streets and its numerous bars and clubs (especially Strada Lipscani). Aside from all of that, it’s a great place to walk among several beautiful historic buildings and churches.
The heart of Old Town is Curtea Veche (Old Princely Court), which was the old royal palace built in 1459 during the reign of Vlad Țepeș (aka Dracula). In an area originally settled in the 14th century by tradesmen, the palace was damaged by earthquakes in the 18th century and left in ruins. The Greek Voivode (Prince) of Wallachia, Alexandros Ypsilantis (the grandfather of the Greek Revolution hero), had a new one built in 1775 where the Palace of Parliament now sits, but those ruins were destroyed in 1986.
Curtea Veche is open to visitors daily, but you can see much of it from outside of the fence, including the bust of Vlad Țepeș.
Across the street is the oldest hotel in Bucharest, Hanul lui Manuc. Built in 1808, the original owner was a flamboyant Armenian, Emanuel Mârzaian, who was better known by his Turkish name, Manuk Bey.
Old Town’s southern border, the Dâmbovița River, is just a block away.
A few banks are located in Old Town. Banca de Credit Romania is behind the Stavropoleos Church.
A short walk away is the very French-looking Economic Consortium Palace, unsurprisingly built by a French architect, Paul Gottereau, in 1900.
Another building to look out for is the old branch of the National Library of Romania, built in 1911.
In the median of Bulevardul Nicolae Balcescu sits the Black Cross, a grim reminder of the violent struggle that brought an end to communism in Romania. It marks the spot where the first protester, Mihai Gâtlan, was killed during the Romanian Revolution at 5:30pm on December 21, 1989. Tanks rolled over protesters and soldiers shot into the crowds there. In all of Romania, over 1,100 people were killed.
Across Bulevardul Nicolae Balcescu is Colțea Hospital, which also caught my eye. It’s the oldest hospital in Bucharest, founded in 1707. The current building dates back to 1888. A statue of Mihail Cantacuzino (a justice minister and Bucharest’s mayor from 1904 to 1907) and the Colței Church (built in 1701) sit in front. Behind it is the Ministry of Agriculture.
And finally, an eyesore and probably the ugliest building I saw in the city (and there are many) is the Tehnoimport Building, built in 1935.
Bucharest’s Old Town is compact and easily walkable. It’s served by two metro stations – Universitate and Piața Unirii.