The Romanian Athenaeum, built in 1888, is one of the architectural exponents of Bucharest and a symbol of the national culture. Resembling with an Ionic temple and having a superb baroque cupola, this event venue houses the George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra.
In 1886, on the foundation of a riding school started the works for the construction of the Athenaeum’s actual edifice, with funds gathered from public subscription through the slogan “Give a leu for the Athenaeum”. Bucharest’s most beautiful building is a mixture of Neo-Classical, Baroque and Ionic architectural elements. Inaugurated in 1888, it presents 6 Greek columns, similar to those of the Erechtheion Temple in Athens, which guard mosaics representing five important Romanian rulers (Neagoe Basarab, Alexandru cel Bun, King Carol I, Vasile Lupu and Matei Basarab).
Inside the concert hall, around the Athenaeum’s cupola, you can see a wonderful fresco, which stretches on a surface of over 200sqm, being 3m high and 70m long. The fresco, work of Costin Petrescu, is composed of 25 representative scenes from the Romanian history. Visitors can also admire the edifice’s impressive ceiling, painted and decorated with golden leaf, the pink Carrara marble columns and sculptures, monumental spiral staircases and elegant balconies. Many paintings which initially decorated the Athenaeum are now on display at the National Art Museum.
Throughout the years, this singular architectural gem has hosted lectures, concerts, performances, exhibitions and many events of high cultural or political importance. Since 1953, the Romanian Athenaeum is home of the George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra; it is also the main venue for the George Enescu International Festival. Having exceptional acoustic qualities, the Athenaeum is considered to be an accomplishment among other buildings with the same function from all over the world.
How to get there:
By car: From Henri Coandă International Airport, take Calea Bucureştilor and then go straight following Şoseaua Bucureşti-Ploieşti, Şoseaua Kiseleff and Aviatorilor Boulevard. From Victoria Square, follow Lascăr Catargiu Boulevard until you reach Romană Square. From here, the Romanian Athenaeum is in a 5min walking distance.
By bus/metro: Get down at Piaţa Romană Station or Universitate Station, depending on where you are coming from. The Romanian Athenaeum is in a 5min walking distance from the respective stations.