The chief cities of Roumania—The capital, Bucarest—Ignorance concerning it—Conflicting accounts—Its true character—The 'sweet waters of the Dambovitza'—Dimensions of Bucarest—External aspect—The Chaussée, the ladies' mile of Bucarest—Streets, shops, and houses—The Academy—Its collections—Coins—Dacian, Roman, and other antiquities—Excellent physical laboratory—Professor Bacologlu—The Coltza laboratory—Dr. Bernath—The Cismegiu Garden—Shabby courts of justice—Other buildings—Churches—Railway stations—Fine hospitals—Dr. Davila—The Colentina Hospital—The 'police des mœurs' and the morality of Bucarest—The 'Philanthropic' Hospital—The 'Coltza'—Its museums—Life in Bucarest—Hotels—The upper classes—Places of amusement—Cost of land and houses for different classes—Wages of artisans; of gipsies—Habits of the working-classes—Cost of living, food, clothing, &c.—Native costumes made by the peasantry—Their beauty and variety—The poorest class—Mamaliga—The gipsies—Their origin and history—Their slavery—Wilkinson's account of them in his day—Their emancipation and present condition—Laoutari or musicians—Their other occupations—Their religion—Fusion with the native Roumanians—Striking contrast between gipsies and natives—Lipovans—Roumanian love of bright colours—Pictorial advertisements—Amusing signboards—Absence of intellectual entertainments and occupations—Want of exchange and market buildings—Great advances since 1857—Edgar Quinet's account of Roumania in his day—'The Roumanian Company for erecting Public Edifices'—Funerals—Octroi duties—Their onerous character—A few words on the Jews—Bitter journalistic attacks upon them—Curtea d'Ardges—Its beautiful cathedral—The exterior—Fine tracery and ornaments—The interior—Legendary history—Negru Voda and Manole—Poem of Manole—Entombs his wife alive in the foundation—His fate—True history—Neagu Bassarab, its founder—John Radul—Quaint and interesting tablets concerning its history down to 1804—Subsequent history and present condition—(Note: Brief history of Christianity in Roumania—Atheism and indifference to religion).
The chief cities or towns in Roumania are Bucarest, the capital, in the district of Ilfovǔ; Jassy or Iasi, the old capital of Moldavia, in that of the same name; Galatz or Galati, in Covurluiǔ; Curtea d'Ardges, in the district of that name; Braila or Ibrail, Craiova, Botosani, Ploiestĭ, and Pitesti. We have not named them exactly in the order of their size, as it is our intention to give some details of the first four only.
|1. Filaret Railway Station.||9. Post and Telegraph Offices.|
|2. Tirgovistea Railway Station.||10. Church, Radu Voda.|
|3. Metropolitan Cathedral.||11. Ministry of Finance.|
|4. Palace.||12. Summer Palace (Cotroceni).|
|5. National Theatre.||13. Asyle Hélène.|
|6. Council of Ministers.||14. Coltza Hospital.|
|7. Academy.||15. Colentina Hospital.|
|8. British Embassy.||16. Bank of Roumania.|
Of the capital, Bucarest, the reader will here find a general plan, in case he should at any time visit the city. To give any lengthened account of it, however, would be a mistake; for such a description would certainly be inaccurate a few years hence, as the city is undergoing great change and improvement from day to day. Still it is the heart of Roumania, the centre from which all progress emanates; and whilst we shall refer to some of its more valuable institutions when we come to deal with national and social questions of general importance, we propose to dwell upon it for a brief space.
Some of the questions that are asked concerning Bucarest, even by persons who believe themselves well-informed, are highly amusing. One friend, who is really a well-read man, asked us shortly after our visit whether it was not a great continuous 'Mabille,' and he looked very incredulous when we told him that, although we had walked through and through it, and had carefully looked at all the posters announcing amusements in various places, we had no recollection of seeing a dancing-garden amongst them, and that we believed none existed. Another friend, a highly educated professional man, was not quite sure whether Bucarest was north or south of the Danube; but it was a place, he knew, where the chief occupation was gambling. There may be some little truth in the latter statement, but gaming-tables are forbidden, and he need not go so far from home as that to see the law evaded.