At BTG we try to shed positive light on all running adventures, but we’re not gonna lie: Bucharest can be a tough place to run. Once upon a time this was not the case. Once upon a time, this city was considered a little Paris. But today it is full of half-restored historic buildings, gigantic municipal behemoths, stark apartment block structures, and, at the time of research, impossibly torn-up cobblestone streets. While there are some architectural highlights to a Bucharest visit – the Palace of Parliament, for example, is the second-largest building in the world – the city’s suffering infrastructure and plainly-evident poverty may send you racing for the Carpathian Mountains.
Don’t blame Bucharest for its current state. Revolution, execution, expectation, and disillusion have rocked Romania ever since Nicolae Ceausescu’s fall in 1989, and painful echoes from the recent past still reverberate in the country’s collective conscience. Although Romania was welcomed into the European Union in 2007, it’s still too early for the benefits of economic, political, and societal integration to really kick in.
But lift yourself up by your bootstraps (shoelaces?), run your heart out on one of the following routes, and you should be physically prepared to intellectually engage with Bucharest’s contemporary complexities. At the end of the day, although this city is not a great place to run, it is an unforgettable place to experience.
- Unmarked Obstacles: The ripped-up city center streets can get bad, and hazards aren’t always roped off. Our BTG researcher almost fell in a sewer while she was at work. Keep your eyes open for cracked pavement, gigantic holes, and cavernous gaps between stones and sidewalk.
- People: Although not the largest city in Europe, Bucharest is the densest. With 8000 people per square kilometer, this city is ten times more packed than Paris.
- Impossible-to-pronounce word for “thank you”: Mul-tsu-mehsk. Mool-tsoo-mehsk? Sigh. Good luck with that one.
Did you know? Wondering what happened to all of Bucharest’s medieval buildings? In the 1980s, under Ceausescu’s orders, Bucharest underwent a “systematization” campaign. This project aimed to eradicate the city’s “irrational” architecture, and resulted in the demolishment of three monasteries, twenty churches, three synagogues, three hospitals, two theaters, and a unique Art Deco sports stadium. Additionally, over eight square kilometers of the city’s old center were brought to the ground.