Sunday, March 23, 2014

Walk: historical Bucharest – Part 2

Copyright: Zum Adrian

Cimitirul Ghencea (Ghencea Cemetery)
The cemetery’s chief draw is that it is the final resting place of Nicolae and Elena Ceaușescu, as well as their son Nicu.

Pass through the main entrance, walk forward towards the chapel, and the dictator’s grave is on the left-hand side, in row I-35, demarcated by two black crosses and a small black fence.

The old matriarchs who sit around the cemetery will point you in the right direction (in the hope of a small tip) if you can’t find it. The same cannot be said for the burial place of Elena, across the other side of the main walkway. The cemetery also has a military wing, where the resting  places of former airmen are marked not with headstones but with bright propeller blades.

Calea 13 Septembrie. Tel : (021) 413 2018. 
Open: 8am-dusk. 
Free admission. 
Bus: 385, 173, 122.

Grădina Botanică (Dimitrie Brândzâ Botanical Gardens)
The garden’s rather turbulent history (uprooted from their former location in 1884, damaged by the  Germans in World War I and bombed by the Allies in World War I) is scarcely visible today. Now in the Cotroceni district, home to the president, who lives close by in Cotroceni Palace, they are a peaceful place to pass a sunny afternoon. The 17ha (42-acre) facility is home to ever 10,000 species of plants, but most locals use the gardens as a park rather than a place to indulge their scientific interest. Keen botanists may wish to peruse the Botanical Museum, a Brâncovenesc building near the entrance that contains a thousand of the common or garden variety, the museum reopened in late 2009 aften an exhibit rearrangement. The greebhouses have also undergone renovation and should welcome visitors again in 2010.

Șoseaua Cotroceni. Tel (021) 318 1559, www.gradina-botanica.ro
Gardens open: 8 am-8 pm (summer); 8 am- 5 pm (winter)
Museum open: Tue, Thur, Sat & Sun 9 am – 1 pm. Closed: Mon, Wed & Fri. Admission charge.
Metro: Politehnica, Bus: 336

Grădina Cișmigiu (Cișmigiu Gardens)
In some ways the city’s most enchanting green space, Cișmigiu is a  favourite with the locals, who descend en masse on summer weekends. The  wonderful layout was designed by German landscape architect Carl Meyer. The gardens feel much larger than they are, thanks to the inclusion of separate and distinctive areas that cater to all kinds of park-goer. There’s a Rotonda Scriitorilor (Writer’s Rotunda), a circular section where busts of Romanian literary giants punctuate park benches, invariably occupied by cavorting lovers. Several among the gardens’ many monuments commemorate fallen soldiers. A higlight is the lake, for which pedalos and rowing boats can be rented; in winter it is drained and turned into an ice rink. There are several kiosks selling juice, beer, ice cream and popcorn, plenty of benches,a s well as the odd bar or place for sit-down meal, and the park feel safe and lively well into the night. It’s also a good place to observe Romanian matrimonial ritual. Bucharest newlyweds love to pose for ther wedding photos in the picturesque park (always well tended because it’s right opposite the city hall). On warm weekend afternoons during spring and summer, the park is full od wedding parties.

Bulevardul Regina Elisabeta & Bulevardul Schitu Măgureanu

Metro: Izvor