Thanks to its abundance of Haussmannian style architecture, quirky cafés and vibrant green spaces, Bucharest has earned the nickname of ‘Little Paris‘. But what you may not know is that Bucharest has its very own Arc de Triomphe too. And it comes in the form of the Arcul de Triumf which is situated along the Piața Arcul de Triumf…
Arcul de Triumf: A History
Triumphal arches have a long history dating all the way back to the Roman period. While the original Arc de Triomphe is located in Orange, Provence, the most famous of all triumphal arches has got to be that of the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile in Paris.
The triumphal arch of Bucharest was originally constructed in wood shortly after Romania gained its independence in 1878. The first arch in the city was built rapidly so that the victorious troops could march underneath it.
However, as it was built in wood, the wooden arch soon disintegrated. In 1922, a second arch was built on the site of the first one in 1922, following WWI. This arch too was demolished in 1935 to make way for a grander, more permanent Arcul de Triumf, and the monument you see today.
Designed by Petre Antonescu (who was renowned for implementing much of the Neo-Romanian architecture throughout the city), the triumphal arch standing today was unveiled in 1936. Antonescu also designed the Bucharest City Hall, the Oprea Soare House, the Law Faculty Palace and the Student’s Culture House, among other important buildings in Bucharest.
Visiting the Arcul de Triumf
Today, the Triumphal arch is built of Deva granite and stands at 27 metres (85 feet) high. Nearby attractions include the luscious green Herastrau Parc and the Casin Monastery (an ecclesiastical building with plenty of domes and mosaics). Each year, on the 1st December (which is Romania’s National Day) a military parade is held under the Arcul de Triumf.
I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek inside the Arcul de Triumf, as well as a bird’s eye view from the top (which is normally closed to the public), thanks to Bucharest City Hall. Inside the building, there’s an internal set of stairs, as well as a small museum documenting the Arch’s rich past.
We visited late in the evening and the arch provided 360-degree views over the entire city. Being so high up gave a real idea as to how much green space the city has (spoiler alert: a lot!) as well as how many incredible churches Bucharest contains.
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