Bucharest is the capital municipality, cultural, industrial, and financial centre of Romania. It is the largest city in Romania, located in the southeast of the country, and lies on the banks of the Dâmbovița River, less than 70 km (43.5 mi) north of the Danube River.
Bucharest was first mentioned in documents in 1459. It became the capital of Romania in 1862 and is the centre of Romanian media, culture and art. Its architecture is a mix of historical (neo-classical), interbellum (Bauhaus and Art Deco), Communist-era and modern. In the period between the two World Wars, the city’s elegant architecture and the sophistication of its elite earned Bucharest the nickname of “Little Paris” (Micul Paris). Although buildings and districts in the historic city centre were heavily damaged or destroyed by war, earthquakes, and above all Nicolae Ceauşescu’s program of systematization, many survived. In recent years, the city has been experiencing an economic and cultural boom.
The city centre is a mixture of medieval, neoclassical and art nouveau buildings, as well as ‘neo-Romanian’ buildings dating from the beginning of the 20th century and a collection of modern buildings from the 1920s and 1930s. The mostly utilitarian Communist-era architecture dominates most southern boroughs. Recently built contemporary structures such as skyscrapers and office buildings complete the landscape.
Of the city’s medieval architecture, most of what survived into modern times was destroyed by Communist systematization, fire and military incursions. Some medieval and renaissance edifices remain, the most notable are in the Lipscani area. This precinct contains notable buildings such as Manuc’s Inn (Hanul lui Manuc) and the ruins of the Old Court (Curtea Veche), during the late Middle Ages this area was the heart of commerce in Bucharest. From the 1970s onwards, the area went through urban decline, and many historical buildings fell into disrepair. In 2005, the Lipscani area was pedestrianized and is undergoing restoration.
The city centre has retained architecture from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, particularly the interwar period, which is often seen as the “golden age” of Bucharest architecture. During this time, the city grew in size and wealth therefore seeking to emulate other large European capitals such as Paris. Much of the architecture of the time belongs to a Modern (rationalist) Architecture current, led by Horia Creangă and Marcel Iancu.