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Location: Southern Romania Elevation: 190 - 295 ft (55 - 90 m) Size: City of Bucharest - 88 sq.miles (228; Bucharest Metropolitan area - 587 sq.miles (1,521 Inhabited since: 500 BC First documented: 1459 AD Population: 1.921 milion Known for its wide, tree-lined boulevards, glorious Belle Époque buildings and a reputation for the high life (which in the 1900s earned its nickname of "Little Paris"), Bucharest, Romania's largest city and capital, is today a bustling metropolis.

Romanian legend has it that the city of Bucharest was founded on the banks of the Dambovita River by a shepherd named Bucur, whose name literarily means "joy." His flute playing reportedly dazzled the people and his hearty wine from nearby vineyards endeared him to the local traders, who gave his name to the place.

While walking in the narrow cobblestone streets one can imagine the long-gone shopkeepers outside near their stores, inviting bypassers to buy their merchandise. Address: Strada Franceza 25 - 31 Tel: 021 3Museum open: Mon. – 5 p.m.; Admission charge At the centre of the historic area are the remains of the Old Princely Court (Curtea Veche), built in the 15th century by Vlad Tepes, also known as Vlad Dracula. Da Vinci Address: Calea Victoriei 118, Bucharest Tel: 021 2Open: Mon.

According to local lore, Vlad kept his prisoners in dungeons which commenced beneath the Princely Court and extended under the city.

It was here, at the balcony of the former Communist Party Headquarters, that Ceausescu stared in disbelief as the people gathered in the square below turned on him. Christian Tell 6 (between Calea Victoriei and Blvd.

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The arch at the entrance, with its Corinthian columns, is a highlight of any architectural tour of the city. At the beginning of 1400s, most merchants and craftsmen - Romanian, Austrian, Greek, Armenian and Jewish - established their stores and shops in this section of the city; a jumble of streets between Calea Victoriei, Blvd. Other streets took on the names of various old craft communities and guilds, such as Blanari (furriers), Covaci (blacksmiths), Gabroveni (knife makers) and Cavafii Vechii (shoe-makers).

An interior staircase allows visitors to climb to the top for a panoramic view of the city.

The sculptures decorating the structure were created by leading Romanian artists, including Ion Jalea, Constantin Medrea and Constantin Baraschi. Calea Victoriei is Bucharest's oldest and arguably, most charming street.

The square's importance stretches back long before the dramatic events of the 1989 Revolution. The outdoor market is surrounded by butcheries, cheese, flower and medicinal plant shops. Radu Beller 3 - 5 Tel: 021 2 Upscale neighborhood market with a selection of fresh produce and flowers Piata 1 Mai Address: Blvd.

On the far side of the square stands the former Royal Palace, now home to the National Art Museum, the stunning Romanian Athenaeum and the historic Athenee Palace Hotel. (some books in English) Visitors interested in Romanian music can find recordings of pop artists and bands, such as Loredana Groza and Morandi, pan flute artist Gheorghe Zamfir and popular folk singers such as Maria Tanase. Ion Mihalache 123Tel: 021 3 Resembling an Oriental bazaar, this is the place to find everything from fresh cheese and eggs, fruits and vegetables, to flowers and household items. Telephoning Bucharest from Abroad International Access Code 40 (country code) 21 or 31 (area code) telephone number (seven digit number) Pharmacies in Bucharest are well stocked and pharmacists are authorized to recommend medication for most (minor) ailments.

Today, the massive auditorium plays host to various conferences and events, including some of the George Enescu International Festival concerts. Banquets and official events are still hosted in the ballrooms, while the upstairs area is reserved for the army's library, as well as offices and classrooms for officer instruction.