I recently had the possibility to visit the Patriarchal Palace in Bucharest. Actually, this palace is the former Romanian Parliament. It is located on the Patriarchal Hill in Bucharest (20 meters away from the Patriarchal Cathedral) and it was the national parliament until the Romanian members of the parliament decided, some years ago, that the building, dating from 1907, is too small, so they chose one large enough for their taste: the actual Parliament Palace - former People's House, and second largest administration building in the world, only to the Pentagon. This move was something not even the Communist regime dared to do - during the dictatorship, the Parliament functioned in this very building.
The present situation of the Patriarchal Palace is not very clear. The palace is the property of the state, but the state decided that the palace should be administered by the Romanian Orthodox Church. Recently, a draft of a new law stated that the palace should become a full property of the Church, amongst other thirty-something objectives in the country.
Many say this is a sign of the omnipotence and greed of the Church inside of a society who knows no concept of real laity. As for me, I believe it is the reverse. I'm wondering why the Church should spend its money on palaces - instead of the state - when there are so many historical churches in the country who need urgent restoring and people who need help that the weak Romanian state cannot provide. And that, just because the state said so. But anyway.
The Palace is one the finest buildings in Bucharest. As soon as the Church became the administrator of the building, it was restored, and most of the halls are just splendid. Public events are regularly held in the Palace. The news agency and the TV station of the Romanian Patriarchy function here as well. My regret is that the palace is not opened for visits.
Some photos. Enjoy.
I'm tired, and I had some very - and I mean, very - unpleasant days this week.
I lost a friend, or someone I considered to be a friend. I lost a good deal of hope. I feel I need a break. I want to get to Transylvania again.
I'm trying to push things forward, but it is so difficult to overcome the inertia. Including, to overcome my own mental inertia.
On the surface, though, things are OK. It's just that my beliefs in a quick change of the country I love are simply vanishing.
I spent more time, these days, with one black friend - he is originally from Congo - and I was scared to see, in different situations, how the surrounding Bucharest society treats him every day.
On the good side, I got some very nice new pictures about the town, so stay close.
I give you something to go with my present sadness. Don't get scared, though, by the fact that the band playing this is Bananarama (there was I time when I loved them, as a teenager). The song is really nice and I still listen to it very often.
The concert hall of the Romanian Athenee. It has a capacity of about 800 seats.
If you wonder about the paintings on the walls, you have to know that they represent various scenes of the Romanian history. I guess the most famous one is the scene of the entrance of the voivod Michael (known as "The Brave") in Alba Iulia, which does not appear in this photo.
Another thing about the Romanian Athenee: it was funded, partially, by public subscription. The plans were made by the French architect Albert Galleron.
Some (many) say it might be the finest building in town.
The Romanian Athenee.
This place is a jewel. Built in 1888, it is the symbol of the new Romanian cultural identity (Romania had become independent from the Ottoman Empire in 1877).
It is also the place with the best acoustics in town, so the most suitable place if somebody wants to listen to classical music. The Philharmonic Orchestra - which has its residence in the Athenee - is, perhaps, the best in town, and in the country. Even if the tickets are very expensive, according to Romanian standards, the hall is usually packed.
Not important, but still: last time I've been to the Athenee, I listened to a very nice Daphnis and Chloe, composed by Maurice Ravel and conducted by a French conductor. It was tops.
I'm back from far away to the North, tired but optimistic. I am partially reconciled to myself after this week-end. And I hope.
No picture today, guys, as I'm too tired to select it. Today - meaning the 18th of October.
I'll post a song instead, a song I really love. It may not be the first time I post the song here, and I apologize for that eventuality.
Constitution Square, official building.
All the buildings built between Unirii Square and the Parliament Palace were erected during the '80s. They replaced old neighborhoods, which were much more valuable in terms of cultural, historical or architectural value.
I never got to see the old houses though. They were already destroyed, mostly, when, as a child, I passed by almost daily, for months, in the late '80s, when I spent my vacations in Bucharest, and the place still felt like a construction site.
For multiple reasons, this is the place that I consider to be my favorite in the city. It is a nice place, located in the center. It is the very place where Romania became a democracy, as the dictator ran away from this very square, in December 1989.
As for the personal history, it is the place where I asked my beloved, 4 years ago, to marry me. What happened after was very sad, but I cannot forget the happiness of the night when I made the proposal; and the place itself.
This picture was taken with my Sony Ericsson k800i phone (which explains its low quality), on the night when Romania became a member of the European Union. 31st December 2006 to January 1st, 2007, that is.
I somehow regret that night, for one reason: people had so much hope in the future back then. Two years of crisis, but also - I would say - the lack of project of the Romanian politicians killed this hope for good. Most of the people I talk to now tell me they want to emigrate as soon as possible and never come back. They just do not see their future here anymore.
That night, my hope was that the admission of my country in the EU club would help my country elites - political and not only - modernize themselves and transform the country into an equal member of the Union. Four years later, I can tell you for sure they missed that opportunity. And thus, modernization has to be done by each of us, inside ourselves - a much more painful and slower process.
My blog will celebrate 3 years of existence on October 13th. Happy anniversary, you blog!
As for me, I'm becoming more and more blase. I'm loosing, bit by bit, my faith in other people's capacity of making the right choices. Because I look around and almost everything seems to be gone wild. Nothing out of the ordinary, I guess. Perhaps I'm just getting older and more inflexible.
A photo I took in a day of spring, at the entrance of the Herăstrău Park. In the picture, you can also see a part of the building of the Romanian National Television - a building which plays a very important role for the events that struck Romania in 1989, 1990 and 1991.
Piaţa Victoriei, with two of the tallest buildings in Bucharest.
You have to know that Bucharest does not have a tradition of edifying skyscrapers. Anything with more than 10 floors is unusual here. I suppose, that has 2 main reasons: the lack of proper funding and the possibility of earthquakes.
On the other hand, it is a mystery to me why the local authorities allow such buildings to be erected in the very center of the city. For each building like this, a few old and sometimes very valuable houses are demolished, and scandals on this topic are something rather usual.
Pub with a good location.
There are a few of these in all the major parks of Bucharest: the Carol I Park, the Cişmigiu Gardens, Alexandru Ioan Cuza park, or - most of all - Herăstrău.
Generally, I like pubs and the idea of people getting together.