Roumania Past and Present eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 315 pages of information about Roumania Past and Present.
and well-to-do citizens of both sexes in European dress; ladies of more humble rank in the national costume;[29] gipsies and poor workmen and women, who, one might imagine, would be better on foot, half-clad, and very considerably unwashed.  In or about the Strada Victoriei are many of the principal buildings—­the national theatre, the King’s palace (a very modest structure at present undergoing improvements), the Ministry of Finance, and some fine hotels.  The shops, which are mostly kept by Germans and French-men, are of a fair kind, though not equal to those of Vienna, Paris, or indeed of many smaller continental capitals.[30] The houses here, and everywhere in Bucarest, are built of brick, plastered white, and often very tastefully decorated externally with figures or foliage in terra cotta; but it is the cracking and falling off of this external coating, which occurs more readily in a place subject to great changes of temperature than in more equable temperate climes, that imparts to Bucarest the dilapidated appearance so often referred to by writers.  This blemish is, however, likely soon to disappear; for the rise of a wealthy middle and trading class, and the general increase of prosperity, will lead to the substitution of stone buildings for what can only be regarded as temporary structures.

[Illustration:  BUCAREST.

(FROM A PHOTOGRAPH BY FRANZ DUSCHEK.)]

Besides the ‘Victoriei,’ there are several other very good streets, one of which is the Lipscanii, which derives its name from the Leipzig traders who formerly lived there, and it is still only a shop street.  There are some small squares with central gardens, but the finest thoroughfare promises to be the Boulevard, which it is intended to carry round the city by connecting it with the wider roads.  On this boulevard stands the Academy, a large classical building with a fine facade of columns; and in a square opposite is the bronze equestrian statue of Michael the Brave, engraved in the second part of this treatise.

[Footnote 28:  The middle pavement is composed of a very hard kind of brick called ‘basalt,’ which is very solid and durable.]

[Footnote 29:  The national costume is worn by Indies of high position in the country, and on state occasions, but not as ordinary citizens’ dress; see the Queen’s portrait, Chap.  XV.]

[Footnote 30:  It may be mentioned for the reader’s guidance that French or German will serve him almost anywhere in Roumania.]

II.

The Academy is the centre of intellectual life in Bucarest.  Temporarily the Senate meets there, but it also harbours many other institutions.  First there is the National Library, with a collection of 30,000 volumes, most ably managed by M. Tocilesco, who is at the same time a well-known author, and professor of ancient history at the University.  Through his acquaintance with the literature of most European

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Roumania Past and Present from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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