Victoria Avenue

Victoriei Avenue – South

Length : 4 km

Time : 1-1 ½ hrs

Naţiunile Unite Sq. — Victoriei Avenue — Regina Elisabeta Blvd. — Universităţii Sq. — I. C. Brătianu Blvd. — Unirii Sq.— Dealul Mitropoliei Alley — Unirii Blvd. — Sf. Apostoli St. — Naţiunile Unite Sq.

Victoriei Avenue – Nord

Length : 8 km

Time : 2-3 hrs

Intercontinental Hotel — Biserica Enei St. — Academiei St. — Regina Elisabeta Blvd. — Victoriei Ave. — Revoluţiei Sq. — Boteanu St. — C.A. Rosetti St. — Ştirbei Vodă St. — Spiru Haret St. — General Berthelot St. — Victoriei Ave. — Biserica Amzei St. — Christian Tell St. — Henri Coandă St. — Nicolae Iorga St. — Victoriei Ave. — General Gh. Manu St. — Orlando St. — Victoriei Ave. — Lascăr Catargiu Blvd. — Romană Sq. — Gh. Magheru Blvd. — Take Ionescu St. — Alexandru Lahovary Sq. — Dionisie Lupu St. — Pitar Moş St. — C.A. Rosetti St. — Nicolae Bălcescu Blvd. — Intercontinental Hotel.

Felix Aderca, one of the keen observers of the Bucharest of yore once noted: “The vast majority of us are still naïve enough to think that cities live through their landmark buildings and parks through their tramcars and telephones. Well, that’s fundamentally wrong! The cities live indeed but only through their soul for each metropolis creates its own atmosphere, its unique soul…”

Calea Victoriei (Victoriei Avenue) counts among Bucharest’s oldest streets. It is widely considered to be one of the most famous, lively and picturesque avenues, preserving the atmosphere of the old Bucharest as “Litlle Paris” through a variety of architecture styles.

Despite the fact this premium avenue of the Capital—“the undisputed chief of the streets for more than 200 years”, according to Gh. Crutzescu—is mentioned for the first time in a document dating back to late 16th century, its present layout took shape only after the half of the 19th century. Fortunately untouched by the communist systematization, the Victoriei Avenue snakes—now wide, now narrow—between the Victoriei Square in the north to the quays of Dâmboviţa in the south (Naţiunile Unite Sq.—United Nations Sq.)

The oldest section of Victoriei Avenue was in fact part of the medieval “Road towards Braşov” and stretched between the present day Revoluţiei and Victoriei Squares. Back in those times both these places were located outside the city.

The southern section has its early beginnings in the times of Walachian ruler Constantin Brâncoveanu (1688-1714). It was opened in 1692 to connect the house of the ruler’s children (“the house of the princes of my Seat”) with his houses in Mogoşoaia where he later built a wonderful palace (1702) still existing today. To achieve this goal, Brâncoveanu demolished everything standing in his way. He started with his newest possesions—the houses that formerly belonged to his cousin Aga (army general) Constantin Bălăceanu, a deadly foe fallen in the battle that Brâncoveanu won with Turkish support against the Habsburg army near Zărneşti on August 11th, 1690—then cutting through the courtyards of his aunt, Princess Mary (wife of Şerban Cantacuzino, mother-in-law and supporter of Bălăceanu; she was a refugee in Sibiu but her protests were in vain). It was practically an expropriation without repairments and yet we cannot consider it as an act of opression if judging by the morals of those times. The street that Brâncoveanu had just opened was then known as the “Big Lane towards Sărindar” after the name of the monastery built by Matei Basarab which was located on the spot of the Military Club of today (at the crossroad between Victoriei Avenue and Regina Elisabeta Boulevard). As back in those times the streets were paved with tree trunks, the “Big Lane towards Sărindar” became known as “Mogoşoaiei Bridge”, a name that endured for centuries until after the Independence War of 1877-78 when it was changed into the commonly known Victory Avenue to commemorate the triumphal march of the victorious Romanian troops.

These are, in short, the stages of development—lane, bridge (tree-paved road), avenue—that clearly testify the old age and history of this street.

Starting with the late 18th century, boyars and rich merchants became more and more interested in building their residencies and mansions along Victoriei Avenue which subsequently became one of the first streets in the city to see the European modernization.

The late 19th century brought about the emergence of modern French-inspired buildings such as the Post Palace (today National Museum of History), the Palace of Deposits and Consignments (the CEC Palace), the Macca-Villacrosse Passageway, the hotels—High Life, Imperial, Splendid, Capşa, Hotel de France, Hotel Louvru, Hotel du Boulevard, Hotel Hugues—alongside with somptuous palaces such as those built by Ştirbey, Cantacuzino, Sturdza noble families as well as the Royal Palace.

Victoriei Avenue is often remembered for the flavour of the interwar years as “an esplanade of fashion, educated conversation, flirting, measured gestures, and complaisance, all these well calculated” as Bucharest historian Adrian Majuru accounts. This past atmosphere is reflected by the old buildings lined up along the way in a display of diverse architecture styles. Their stories will be highlighted by two itineraries dedicated to visitors engaged in city endeavours.

The two proposed circuit itineraries follow the Victoriei Avenue as main street with short sideway strolls to include worth-visiting places and to reveal past time stories. The first circuit will guide the visitor along Victoriei Avenue starting from its southern end before the bridge across Dâmboviţa River heading north to the intersection with Regina Elisabeta Boulevard then east towards the University Square following the I.C. Brătianu Boulevard to reach the Unirii Square and finally return to the departing point along Sfinţii Apostoli Street. The second circuit is considerably longer and follows mainly the Victoriei Avenue starting from the Military Club with the Gh. Magheru Boulevard as returning route.