Bucharest’s Botanical Gardens

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It would be easy to say that Bucharest’s Botanical Garden is one of the city’s great, overlooked sights: a bit like the Bellu Cemetery. Yet while it doesn’t usually top the list of casual visitors to Bucharest, for locals it is one of the city’s most popular attractions: to call it overlooked would therefore be wrong.

Attracted by its relatively central location, easy parking on surrounding streets, cheap entrance fee and – most of all – by the fabulous greenhouses, the garden is a gorgeous place and is packed on weekends. It’s not without its problems though: more of those later. For starters, let’s concentrate on what we like about the place.

Entrance costs 5 lei for adults, 2 lei for concessions, while the under-sevens get in for free. An extra one leu buys you a map: few attractions in Bucharest (and no museums) offer maps (imagine if the Village Museum published a map of its houses…)

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From the main entrance most people head straight towards the greenhouses, for they keep short hours.

Most of the greenhouses have been renovated (or even entirely rebuilt) over the past couple of years, and they look better than ever. They get gradually hotter as you move around them, and the plants within them increasingly weird and exotic. Captioning is good: the origins of each plant are given in almost all cases, and the whole experience of walking through the greenhouse complex is at once pleasant and fascinating. Kids (if ours are anything to go by) will find plenty to keep them occupied, not least the cacti and the rather impressive collection of venus fly traps.

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The rest of the Botanical Garden is a vast expanse of various flora, from micro-forests to flower gardens, some more impressive than others, but all with merit. The plants are divided into their geographical areas of origin, be it Romania or further afield: there is a section devoted to the Carpathian mountains, another to Dobrogea, another to the Mediterranean. Captions and display boards are excellent throughout (some are even in English as well as Romanian). Look out for squirrels, and worry not about dogs: we explored more or less the whole garden and saw not a single stray mutt.

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The Botanical Garden is also home to the Botanical Museum, which we had planned to visit as we left. Alas on Saturdays it closes early, at 13:00 (during the week it is open until 15:00). Quite why somebody decided that Saturday would be a good day to close up early is beyond us.

We should also point out that it is hard to ignore the enormous factory which lurks behind the garden, so we will not.

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Nevermind, museum or no museum, factory or no factory these are small gripes compared with the overall visitor experience, which is overwhelmingly positive. Take a morning, the kids, and go. It’s five lei very well spent.

13 thoughts on “Bucharest’s Botanical Gardens

  1. In case anyone who doesn’t understand Romanian is interested in what the plaque in the first photo says: “In the morning of September 13, 1848 over 40000 Bucharesters and peasants from the surroundings here gave, in the neighbourhood of Cotroceni, a heroic resistance against the Ottoman armies which were trying to enter the City and stifle the Revolution.”

    The year 1848 was the year of revolutions all across Europe. In Wallachia (current day Southern Romania) and Moldavia (today divided between Romania, Moldova and Ukraine) there were concurrent revolutions that, even in failure, paved the way for Romanian unity. Just 11 years later Romania would be born. In fact we also owe our flag and our anthem to the 1848 revolutions. I should also mention that Romanians also played a major role in the Austrian Empire revolutions of 1848.

    Too bad that with 165 years of hindsight, one might well argue that things didn’t work out, in the long term, quite as well as those revolutionaries had hoped. The phrase “things have gone to shit” comes to mind.

    Also, I don’t usually discuss politics and I certainly don’t usually post about politics on this blog, but considering that those revolutionary leaders were National Liberals… I’d be ashamed to be a part of a certain party and call myself a National Liberal today. Then again I’d be ashamed to be a part of any of the political parties currently in the Parliament. Sorry if, by any chance, someone around here is actually a member of one of these parties.

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      1. They’d be cooler in prison. Maybe they can all write their memoirs in there. Hundreds of memoirs, with huge chunks copy-pasted, of course.

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      2. Speaking of prison, I drove by the Rahova Penitentiary the other day. I couldn’t stop wondering what Becali was up to in there…so I took a picture. He must be going nuts after watching Steau win last night. If he had access to a tv that is.

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      3. @Keefo. What do you mean Steaua won last night? I thought the Champions League final (last Saturday) was the end of all domestic European club football? Mickey Mouse football league!

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      4. Steaua won the Romanian league title, a little like winning a ‘who’s the biggest midget’ competition. They still had a parade through the city though.

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      5. Just saw Real Madrid play in La Liga earlier. I guess the Spanish didn’t get the memo that only Mickey Mouse football leagues still play football after the Champions League final. 😀

        Also the German Cup final is tonight.

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  2. Thanks Giuseppe for the translation. I’ve only just started my Romanian studies at the Rolang School and this language is hard. I look forward to the day I can read a sign in its entirety without getting a headache.

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