After days without sun, we were treated yesterday morning to a blue sky streaked with rays of sunshine. I grabbed my camera and took the metro from our hostel to the Piata Romana. As I emerged from the underground tunnels, I found that the sun had already retreated for the day, but I was unwilling to admit defeat. I wandered through back alleys in search of the Romanian Athenaeum, one of Bucharest’s top attractions.
Bucharest is a bit strange. It can be stark and decrepit-seeming in places: the drab communist-era architecture featuring prominently. And then just when you’re about to give up, you come across genteel, cobbled streets with cafes and chocolate shops on every corner. Perhaps it is this juxtaposition, combined with the fact that the discoveries we’ve made have come so unexpectedly, that has left us with such a nice feeling about this place.
After a few minutes of rather poor navigating, I found it. The Romanian Athenaeum is a concert hall and symbol of cultural Bucharest. Opened in the late 1880s, it has also served as witness to important moments in Romanian history. From the outside, it’s beautiful, although not particularly remarkable.
It’s the interior that makes this place remarkable. I paid my 10 leu (about €2.30 or $3.10), which pretty much gave me free reign of the place, and began to wander around.
At first glance, it seems as though this lobby area is all there is to see in the Romanian Athenaeum. Nice, but still not spectacular. However, if you’re tenacious, you should find the actual concert hall. Now this is something to write home about.
If you go…
- The entrance is on the side of the building. If you’re standing facing the front of the Athenaeum, you should find a small door on the right-hand side of the building. Don’t be fooled by the locked front doors and assume it is closed.
- The concert hall can be accessed from the curved staircases (not the main staircase, as far as I could tell) around the lobby. Some of the doors may be locked, so just keep trying different staircases. When I went, I was able to access the concert hall by taking the second staircase on my right (from the entrance). If you’re standing at the bottom of the stairs of the main staircase, with your back to the lobby, it will be slightly behind you and to your right.
- The Romanian Athenaeum and the Opera are two different places, although they are nearby one another.
- If you take the metro, you can get off at Piata Romana or Piata Victoiei – the Romanian Athenaeum is about equidistance between the two.
- The Athenaeum is close to Revolution Square, and it is quite possible to visit both within only a few hours.
Where to Stay
- We stayed at Cozyness Downtown Hostel Bucharest, and haven’t ever felt more at home at a hostel. One of the best places we’ve stayed.
- The owner, Marius, is really friendly and likes to hang out with guests. The staff are awesome, too: super friendly and helpful.
- Cozyness has dorm beds and a few different private rooms, and we ended up staying in a few different rooms during the two weeks we stayed there. All were top notch!
- Cozyness didn’t pay us to say this, but we did end up making a few videos for the hostel: one video about Bucharest, and one video about Cozyness hostel.
- You can get in touch with the Cozyness Downtown Hostel Bucharest via their Facebook page, or by booking through Hostel World, Hostel Bookers, Booking.com, or other booking websites.