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Unique old neighborhoods in Bucharest

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We have a bit of time in Bucharest before going out into the countryside on a tour. The guide is taking us to the obvious places in the capital like the Arc, museums. palace and the Village Museum. But we are looking for a small area either in or not far from the city where we can just wander on our own and have a look at something old and interesting, perhaps shop. Guide books have not been very helpful.

Suggestions? We leave early Tuesday Aussie time, Monday to the rest of you.

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    I'm posting mainly to bookmark as I'm interested to hear if any such neighborhoods still exist. I think this will be a challenge for the following reasons:

    Much of Bucharest was destroyed in WW2. Then the Russians built so many of those hideous, blocky Soviet-style structures. Then during the Ceausescu reign he destroyed thousands of homes and businesses to build the Parliament Building. Although Bucharest is an interesting city, I am sorry to say it's not the most beautiful city I've ever visited.

    But having said all that I will be optimistic for you that a Fodorite will come through and make a good suggestion. I want to believe there are such neighborhoods remaining, you just have to know where to look.

    Have a great trip, I loved my visit to Romania last year.

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    The obvious choice would be the "old quarter" in the southern part of downtown (between Universitatii and Unirii squares), but I'm sure your guide will take you there anyway, it's a relatively popular tourist attraction in spite of the neverending renovation works. This is the old heart of the city (Bucharest developed around the medieval fortress/princely court in that area) but most of what can be seen seen now was built in the 19th century; there are nonetheless several much older and very interesting churches, a couple of museums, plenty of restaurants, bars, shops etc.

    You could also try other parts of downtown, particularly the northern (the side streets along Lascar Catargiu boulevard) and north-eastern part (along Dacia boulevard) - these are relatively quiet turn-of-the-century neighborhood.

    Some other ares you might find interesting are the neighborhoods south and west of Herastrau park along Kiseleff and Aviatorilor avenues (you will pass through them en route to the Village Museum) - these are high end residential areas built mostly in the 1920s-40s, with lavish villas, mansions, palaces and so on.

    A similar (but slightly older, it started to develop before 1900) upscale neighborhood you could visit is Cotroceni, located west of downtown next to the presidential palace.

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