With much fast and in the presence of Bucharest’s delightful mayor Gabriela Firea-Pandele, the city’s newly restored Arc de Triumf was today unveiled to a bemused public who immediately began wondering why the restoration had taken so long, and cost so much money.
For almost three years the Arc has stood behind hoardings, and – for much of the time – scaffolding. When originally built in the 1920s, it took less than two years to construct.
At first glance the renovation appears to have been a disaster: it has left part of the Arc’s stonework a different colour to the rest. It’s a botch job, and yet one which cost over 31 million lei.
What’s more, there are – as far as we know – no plans to open the Arc’s viewing deck to the public (with the exception of certain national holidays. It should be open this Thursday, December 1st, Romania’s National Day, after the Cold War-style military parade that will pass underneath has finished).
This is possibly just as well: there is actually no way you can legally get to the Arc. There is no pedestrian crossing leading to it, nor is there an underpass. When then mayor of Bucharest Sorin Oprescu first proposed the Arc’s renovation in 2013, we were promised a pedestrian underpass and that the Arc would be open to allcomers, for a fee. It would become a visitor attraction, basically, and a rather popular one: the view from the top is smashing.
The underpass appears to have got lost over the past three years, as has the idea of opening the Arc to visitors.
No wonder Bucharest’s taxpayers are wondering what on earth our 31 million lei has bought us?