Bucharest (Romanian: București) is the economic, administrative and cultural center of Romania. It lies in the middle of the Romanian plain, on the banks of Dâmbovița, a small northern river tributary of the Danube.
The city was mentioned for the first time in the medieval documents in 1459 when Vlad the Impeller, ruler of Wallachia, moved the Capital of the country here from Târgoviște. Cetatea Dâmboviței [the Citadel of Dâmbovița] was a military fortress and a commercial center aside the trade route to Constantinople and the residence of the Wallachian rulers changing its name to Bucharest.
Nowadays, Bucharest is the 6th largest city of the European Union in terms of the population within city limits, after London, Berlin, Madrid, Rome, and Paris and a booming city with many large infrastructure projects changing the old face of the city. Known in the past as „The Little Paris," Bucharest has changed a lot lately, and today it has become a very interesting mix of old and new which may bring together a 300 years old church, a steel-and-glass office building and Communist-era apartment blocks. Bucharest offers some excellent attractions, and has cultivated, in recent years, a sophisticated, trendy, and modern sensibility that many have come to expect from a European capital.
Today Bucharest is a modern city, with museums, theaters, libraries and parks, characterized by a number of squares from which streets and boulevards radiate. The two main streets, running roughly parallel through the center of the city, are Calea Victoriei and Bulevardul Magheru.
Republic Square—with the palace hall and the historical Crețulescu Church (1722)—is one of the most beautiful squares of the city. It is linked to Revolution Square (formerly Palace Square), which is surrounded by an imposing group of administrative, political, and cultural buildings including the Romanian Athenaeum, notable for its columned facade, and the former royal palace (now the National Art Museum).
Many of the city’s theatres – for example, the National Theatre „I.L. Caragiale” and the Theatre of Opera and Ballet of Romania – have long traditions. Bucharest is also the seat of a national philharmonic orchestra. Among the many museums are the Museum of the History of the City of Bucharest and the Art Museum of Romania, the latter maintaining large collections of national, European, and East Asian art.
Bucharest's Old Town is a mix of history, local culture and life style, a trendy entertainment district.
The most important centers for higher education are the University Politehnica of Bucharest (founded 1818), the University of Bucharest (founded 1864 from institutions dating to 1694) and The Bucharest University of Economic Studies (founded 1913). In addition, there are several academies in both arts and sciences, as well as numerous research institutes. Bucharest has three central libraries (the Library of the Romanian Academy, the National Library, and the Central University Library) and a large number of public library units.