Travel Postcard: 48 hours in eclectic Bucharest

Fri May 25, 2012 5:13am EDT
 
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By Sam Cage

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Got 48 hours to explore Romania's capital and its eclectic mix of western architectural ideas, eastern imagery, 20th century totalitarian megalomania and buzzing nightlife?

Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors map the city's shift from one of Europe's most progressive urban centers at the start of the 20th century to a chaotic maze of dusty boulevards and quaint neighborhoods bearing the scars of brutal communist policies.

FRIDAY

4 p.m. - From the airport, take a taxi or 783 airport bus straight to Piata Universitatii and the old medieval merchant district of Lipscani, which escaped the attentions of communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, who razed much of its surroundings.

The area, all but abandoned until just a few years ago, is now a dense network of cobbled streets and period buildings in various stages of refurbishment and centre of the city's burgeoning nightlife scene.

It's an easy area to wander at random but you shouldn't miss the exquisite Stavropoleos Monastery, built in 1724 and an example of Brancovenesc style of Romanian architecture, a rich mix of Byzantine and baroque motifs.

Browse the cafes, bars and small textile and antique shops before having a look at Curtea Veche, the 15th century residence of Vlad Tepes - also known as "Vlad the Impaler" - a bloodthirsty ruler who inspired Bram Stoker's Dracula.

The courtyard of Hanul lui Manuc, a 19th century merchants' inn, is an atmospheric location for an aperitif.   Continued...