Bucharest today seems to be quite a nice place to be in. Everything looks normal and modern: legions of western car brands are clogged in a very western rush hour, smart phones are matching smart clothes, oh yeah, capitalism is on full swing and globalization has a glitzy outpost here.
Yet thirty years ago, this was a place of doom and gloom: Romania was a Communist state and Bucharest was a dark place and we don’t mean that in a metaphorical way. Everything western was forbidden to the extent that even talking to a westerner on the street would grant anyone a hasty trip to a Police station for a lengthy interview with a Securitate officer whose duty was to make sure you would never ever endanger again the State by providing the enemy with secret information such as the daily schedule of the Socialist power grid.
That era left its marks on Bucharest, a city once called, more or less ironic, the Little Paris. But then, Communism happened. One egotistic dictator and the golden socialist ideals brought a deadly blow to the looks of Romania’s biggest city. The big bright future meant small dark apartments stacked on top of each other in crowded workers’ neighbourhoods. It also meant razing hundreds of beautiful houses in order to build one huge eye sore, the People’s Palace. It meant interrogation dungeons that everyone knew about. It meant elegant neighbourhoods dedicated to the top brass.
We invite you to discover some of these places and stories about Bucharest under Communism
Photo credits: Andrei Pandele
Photo Credits: Alex Galmeanu
The movie above is called The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu by Andrei Ujica.
This documentary represents one of the best renditions of Ceausescu’s regime and if you are at all interested in Romania’s communist past it is highly recommended that you have a look . (English Subtitles)
Some of the footage from Ceausescu’s visit in North Korea or his visit in the UK (where he received a royal welcome by the Queen) are almost surreal.
This tour is done with a medium sized car.
*an extra 10 eur is added for an optional visit to the Spring Palace
(for larger groups give us a message and we’ll try to accommodate)
The prices include one refreshment and one s snack, the ride and, of course, the guide. However they DO NOT include food and drink purchased at bars/cafes, so please bring some extra cash. How much you spend on refreshments is entirely up to you! (We suggest around 15 euros, although you may want to bring more for impulse purchases and souvenirs)
Your guide for this tour is Dragoș Fratila (pronounced Draagosh). He is a 34 year entrepreneur that is doing this tour just for the fun of it and because he has a vast experience in showing Bucharest to foreigners. 8 years in advertising as a copywriter made him capable of selling you almost anything. Moved from an industrial town (Galati) to Bucharest for college and has never stopped loving this city since.
Plus: he has a sweet ride.