When you decide to visit the capital of Romania, it is important to visit its main tourist attractions. But don’t forget to discover the hidden gems in Bucharest! This way, you can feel the city better. Plus, you don’t even have to crowd with other tourists because they haven’t found out about them yet. Below are some of the secret places in Bucharest.
From the Phanariot era, a boyar’s house in Bucharest has been preserved, the Melik House. It is a house typical of those times from an architectural point of view and you can visit it. Melik House is the oldest habitable house in Bucharest.
It was built in the second half of the 18th century. It is one of the most beautiful merchant houses in Bucharest and the only one open to the public. The house is named after its most important owner, Iacob Melik. He was a supporter of the revolutionary actions of 1848. He is responsible for renovating the house in the second half of the 19th century.
Melik preserved traditional elements such as the upstairs porch and the interior staircase, wood and wide eaves roof. Today the house houses the Theodor Pallady Museum and is therefore open to the public.
Theodor Pallady Museum has the collection of Serafina and Gheorghe Răut. It contains a substantial core of canvases signed by Theodor Pallady and over 800 drawings and engravings from his Parisian period.
They were donated by the Răut couple to the Romanian state in the late 1960s. The couple also donated their own art collection – French, Dutch, English and Spanish school paintings from the 16th-19th centuries, small ancient and renaissance sculptures.
Hidden places in Bucharest: Macca Vilacrosse Passage
Macca-Villacrosse Passage is a covered passage from Bucharest connecting Calea Victoriei and Eugeniu Carada Street. From this street, you can reach Lipscani Street. This place will fascinate you as few places can do.
The construction was carried out in response to the growing agglomeration of the central area of the capital at the end of the XIX century. At that time, the Bucharest City Hall decided to create a pedestrian crossing.
This crossing would make the passage between Calea Victoriei, the main artery of the city and Lipscani Street, an important social and commercial centre. In order to facilitate the passage, the City Hall decides to buy several buildings in the area that it would have demolished. The houses of Xavier Villacros and Mihalache Macca come to mind.
The two decide to sell their properties, but the owner of the Stadt Pesh hotel, which is right between them, refuses. Therefore, the city management is put in a strange situation in which they have to build the Macca-Villacrosse Passage avoiding the hotel building.
Felix Xenopol thought of the Macca-Vilacrosse Passage in the form of a horseshoe, taking advantage of the shortcomings of the space to create a special effect. The entire passage has above it a roof made of a metal structure covered with yellow glass sheets.
The Macca-Vilacrosse Passage has rich stucco decorations and the facades of the buildings are beautifully decorated in the style of the early twentieth century. Today, the Macca-Villacrosse Passage looks like an extension of the Old Town with chic shops and oriental cafes.
Read also: Is Bucharest worth visiting?
The Choral Temple in Bucharest is a synagogue of the Jewish Community in Bucharest, being the largest mosaic place of worship in the city. The building was built between 1864-1866, being renovated in 1932 and 1945. The Coral Temple is not only a place of prayer and silence, it is also a wonderful place to visit in Bucharest.
The Choral Temple in Bucharest was built on an area of 448 m.p. It is a faithful replica of the splendid Leopoldstädter Tempel synagogue built-in 1858 in Vienna, destroyed by the Nazis. Its interior is also reminiscent of the Spanish Synagogue in Prague.
The Coral Temple has over 150 years of history, but the earliest mention in official court documents of Jews in Bucharest dates back to the 16th century.
The construction of the temple was done at the initiative of Isaac Leib Weinberg, a Polish Jew from Bucharest, one of the leaders of the organization “Community of Modern Israelite Cult” in Bucharest. The Jewish community bought land in this area in 1857.
In the same year, the first version of the construction project was completed, which provided that the temple had Gothic features. The construction project was designed by Viennese Architects I. Enderle and Gustav Freiwald, and the building will be built in a “Mauro-Byzantine” style.
Unusual things to do in Bucharest: Bellu Cemetery
Bellu Cemetery is the largest cemetery in Bucharest and one of the best known in all of Romania, after the Merry Cemetery in Sapanta. Located in the Heroes of the Revolution Square, Bellu Cemetery was inaugurated in the middle of the 19th century, being an open-air museum. In the 1850s, new cemeteries began to be built on the outskirts of the city, one of them being on Șerban Vodă Street, on a 15ha plot of land, donated by Baron Barbu Bellu.
With the passage of time, the cemetery becomes a real art museum, with famous architects, sculptors and stonemasons creating wonderful works that housed or evoked the personalities buried in the cemetery. If you are looking for unusual things to do in Bucharest, a visit to Bellu cemetery is one of them.
The plots were divided according to the model of the famous Parisian cemetery Père Lachaise, consisting of quadrilateral sections called “figures”, with spaces dedicated to larger burial structures (chapels) and on the edges for the smallest (tombs or graves).
The cemetery includes three dedicated sections, namely that of writers, artists and the memorial park of the Romanian Academy. In addition, representatives of the majority of Romanian noble families rest here.
But in Bellu, there are some famous tombs with interesting stories: the tomb of Julia Hasdeu (a young genius who communicates with her lion father after death), of the Poroinianu brothers (a kind of Roman Romeo and Juliet) and of the architect Pompilian (a tomb in the shape of a pyramid).
The Umbrella street in Bucharest – Victoria Passage
Behind the University of Architecture, on Academiei Street, you go to Calea Victoriei through Victoria Passage or Shadow Street as it became known. Victoria Passage is not the only one that makes the transition between Calea Victoriei and Academiei Street.
Inside these passages, there were shops and boutiques of the past. But in the meantime, they were left in ruins. Victoria Passage became known once the colourful umbrellas were added.
Secret places in Bucharest: The island on Lake Morii
Lake Morii was arranged at the command of Nicolae Ceausescu, who wanted to create the lake to protect Bucharest from a possible catastrophic flood caused by the overflow of the Dambovita River. Work began in 1985 and was completed the following year.
The original project also included the arrangement of the island of the lake, popularly known as the Island of the Angels or the Island of the Lost Souls. When the project for the development of the area was made, during Ceausescu’s time, here was the edge of the neighbourhood, with needy houses. But also a cemetery and a church.
People did not have time to exhume their dead, so bulldozers entered and destroyed the cemetery. And that is why it is said that troubled souls from eternal sleep still haunt the whole area, in search of eternal resting places.
Cool places in Bucharest: MNAC terrace
The terrace of the National Museum of Contemporary Art (MNAC abbreviation in Romanian) is a location from where you can admire Bucharest from above. It is located on the 4th floor of the Parliament Palace, in the E4 wing. The access can be made exclusively through the museum and only after rigorous security control.
The view from the terrace is directed towards the Marriott Hotel and the People’s Cathedral. Somewhere on the right, you can see the tallest buildings in Bucharest (Municipal Hospital, Basarab Bridge, etc.).
Read also: Best museums in Bucharest
Arch of Triumph
The Arc de Triumph is a symbol of Romania’s victory in the First World War. It was built between 1921 and 1922 according to the project of the architect Petre Antonescu. It is one of the reasons why Bucharest is also called “Little Paris”. The Arc de Triomphe in Paris built a model for the one in Bucharest.
And, although the Arc de Triumph itself cannot be considered a secret place in Bucharest itself, its interior is. On its two arms, there is a museum dedicated to the Romanian royalty. And from above, from the terrace, you can admire one of the most beautiful views of Bucharest. The arch is open for visits only on certain predefined days and in summer, on weekends. If you have the opportunity, don’t hesitate to pay him a visit on the roof!
The Colourful fountains in Bucharest
At the end of the week, also during the summer, an impressive show takes place in Piata Unirii: The Water Symphony. Several artesian wells “dance” to famous songs splashing with coloured jets up. Although the fountains here have a long history, the first show took place a few years ago.
The first images of artesian wells in the area of the National Square (Unirii) date back to the 1930s. Since then, they have undergone various modernizations, the last one taking place in 2018. Since 2018, every summer Bucharest residents and visitors enjoy the Water Symphony on weekends. The spectacle of water, light and sound attracts hundreds and even thousands of people in the warm season.
Instagramable places in Bucharest – Astronomical observatory
The “Admiral Vasile Urseanu” Astronomical Observatory is the only astronomical observatory open to the public. The idea of an Astronomical Observatory took shape in 1908. Then, Admiral Vasile Urseanu became the president of the Romanian Astronomical Society. One of its aims was to establish a popular astronomical observatory. This would serve the propagation of astronomy among the masses.
Admiral Vasile Urseanu started the construction works, through his own financial efforts, of a building in Bucharest. He used to say: “I built my house in the shape of a yacht, with an observatory dome. This way, as I make observations with the sniper, I have the feeling that I am floating on the sea.”
The observatory hosts a permanent exhibition dedicated to the Universe. But even if you are not interested in astronomy, you can pay a visit to it: the building is a beauty! It is also one of the best Instagram spots in Bucharest!
Now that you have this list, you can plan your getaway in Bucharest. And you can expand it with a tour in Transylvania or one in all of Romania. Include in your route through the capital the well-known attractions, but also some of these hidden gems in Bucharest. This way, you will have a great holiday!