Located at the intersection of Lipscani, Moși, Carol, and Smârdan streets, where the merchants of the city carried out their activities, the Central Halls (Hale Centrale) were the place of supply for many of Bucharest's residents. Here they used to shop vegetables, fruits, fish, meat, soap, and other items needed in daily life. In the same place, they could bargain with craftsmen or household helpers. The commercial complex, if it can be called that way, consisted of a large hall, one for birds and a third hall, for fish. Nearby, at the base of Mitropoliei Hill, you could find the Bibescu-Vodă market, where wholesale products were sold at the stalls lined up on both sides of the Dâmbovița River. Multiple tram lines also met near the Central Halls, often causing numerous blockages. They functioned until the 80s when they were demolished.
Another important commercial point of the old Bucharest was the La Furnica store, located on Carol Street. Here, the people of Bucharest came mainly to discover the latest trends in fashion, as the store was considered a forerunner to the popular malls of today.
Equally famous was the Dragomir Niculescu luxury grocery-brasserie, which opened in 1895. It was located on the ground floor of the Vanic house, where the E. Graeve Bookstore had previously operated, while the first floor served as the Lazar hotel, then the Englitera hotel, which later became the editorial office of the newspaper Timpul. Casa Vanic would be demolished before the beginning of the Second World War, and the land was occupied by a block built in Art Deco style. This would become widely known under the same name as the brasserie which would once again operate on the ground floor of the building. Among the luxury products that you could buy here were Manchurian caviar, Bordeaux wines, or selected varieties of champagne.
Art was of constant interest to the people of Bucharest. One of the most important buildings in the interwar years was the Regina Maria theatre, built in the 1920s. Some three decades later, it would be transformed into Operetta, which functioned until 1986, when it was demolished. Another symbol of the time was the Palace of Arts. Inaugurated in 1906, on the Trocadero hill (currently Filaret) on the occasion of a jubilee exhibition, it functioned as a museum, hosting exhibits representative of Romania's past. The construction work had been led by the engineer Robert Effingham Grant, who also designed the bridge that bears his name. After several damages caused by a fire in 1938 and an earthquake that occurred two years later, in 1943 the Palace of Arts was demolished, and although the land had been reserved for the construction of a cemetery dedicated to national heroes, the project was abandoned. Eventually, the Mausoleum of Carol I Park was erected here.
In the interwar years, another famous place in Bucharest was Kiseleff Pool, a project by architect Marcel Iancu. The complex had been opened in the summer of 1929, after only 52 days of work with no less than 3,000 workers and 150 carters. Around 28,000 cubic meters of earth were excavated to make room for the pool. Its facilities were truly remarkable. It was, at the same time, the largest European pool and the largest sports base in Bucharest, it had 14,000 square meters of sandy beaches and 200 cabins, a ring covered with parquet so that visitors could dance on the beach, a restaurant – Elysee, a post office, telephone, and telegraph, a racetrack, tennis court, exercise equipment, and a children's pool. In 1948, with the establishment of the communist regime, the complex would change its name to Tineretului Pool.
An important role in the political life of the Romanian capital at that time had the Sturdza Palace. Built between 1897 and 1901 by Prince Grigore M. Sturdza, the palace was one of the most atypical buildings of old Bucharest. The German-born architect responsible for the project was Iulius Reiniqke. He used the eclectic style, decorating the walls of the edifice with stucco and other ornaments, but also with four turrets, placed in each corner of the building, a fact that attracted the nickname "the cake of the Sturdzesti". Purchased by the state after the death of its owner in 1901, the palace served as the seat of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but following the damage suffered during the Second World War, it was demolished in 1946.
Data for this article was obtained from editiadedimineata.ro, viabucuresti.ro, bucuresti-centenar.ro, viitorulromaniei.ro and stelian-tanase.ro. Photo source: Photobank MD from Chisinau, Moldova, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
More on our blog
- One Insider
- Real estate: past, present and future
- Layout and style
- Real estate education
- Free time in Bucharest
- Tourist attractions in Bucharest
- The neighborhoods of Bucharest