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Piata Revolutiei, Bucharest

  
  - darkometer rating:  5 -
 
A square in central Bucharest – and the place where some of the most iconic footage of the Romanian revolution of 1989 was filmed, most notably dictator Ceausescu's last two speeches, which he had to abandon in the midst of shouts of "down with Ceausescu", and his subsequent escape by helicopter. This is also where much of the fighting broke out – though nearby Piata Universitatii saw even fiercer clashes.
  
The square was known as Piata Palatului until 1989 – because the former Royal Palace, which now functions as an art museum, was located on it. It was renamed after the revolution that sparked off here.   

>What there is to see

>Location

>Access and costs

>Time required

>Combinations with other dark destinations

>Combinations with non-dark destinations

>Photos

 
What there is to see: the "official" main focal point in the centre of the square is the controversial "Rebirth Memorial" ('Memorialul Renasterii') erected here in 2005 as a memorial to the revolution of 1989 and the beginning of the more or less post-communist era – it's mainly controversial for its design, not so much for what it stands for. It's a thin pyramid-needle-cum-obelisk of white marble that seems to pierce a roundish bronze object ("crown") towards its top. This has been referred to as the "potato of the revolution" due to the "crown's" shape, and the whole monument has been dubbed "the olive on a toothpick". It is indeed a bit odd and its symbolism rather obscure. At the foot of the obelisk are further memorials: a group of bronze figures and two rounded bits of concrete walls with names of victims inscribed on them in bronze. Behind these there is another statue, of politician Iuliu Maniu (prime minister between 1928 and 1933), and what looks like a bronze sculpture of a dead tree.
 
The main attraction for the dark tourist, however, will rather be the building that these memorials stand in front of: it's now the Ministry of the Interior, but until 1989 it housed the Central Committee of the Communist Party, and it was on its front balcony that Nicolae Ceausescu made his last two, fateful, public appearances, when he attempted to give a speech but was booed off. And it was from the roof of the building's right wing (when facing it) that he was evacuated by helicopter only moments before revolutionaries got there. What would have happened had they managed to get him? Would they have lynched him? Who knows. What did happen, of course, was that he was captured, put to a hasty show trial and executed only three days later.
 
Back at the square fighting broke out between protesters and the military. You can still see pockmarks from bullets on some of the buildings' walls. Another memorial right in front of the former Central Committee building, consisting mainly of a squat, low white marble pyramid (in a way the antithesis to the "Rebirth Memorial"), honours "our glorious martyrs" of December 1989 – you have to presume they mean the revolutionaries, not the Ceausescus (even though the tip of the pyramid seems to ominously point to the balcony where they made their last public appearance …).
 
To the left of the square, on Str Dobrescu, a very striking structure stands out: the shell of a destroyed building out of which rises a very modern glass-and-steel edifice. The shell is that of the former Securitate building, which was destroyed in the revolution. In its basement and ground floor there is now a cafe called "IO Coffee Bar". Do pop in here for a quick one – not so much for the drinks but to see the large blown-up prints on the walls of black-and-white photographs taken during those momentous days of the revolution – it brings back the images of damaged buildings and tanks and soldiers with machine guns in front … and with the Securitate building before its destruction in the background.  
 
On the other side of the square, next to the Orthodox Cretulescu Church, is a memorial bust to anti-Communist activist Corneliu Coposu (who had been imprisoned by the early communist regime for a total of 17 years and campaigned against the old communists' role in the time after the revolution of 1989 until his death in 1995); and behind the church is yet another memorial to the martyrs of the revolution itself.
 
 
Location: in the centre of Bucharest, about two-thirds of the way down Calea Victoriei, at the corner of Str Dobrescu.
 
Google maps locator: [44.439,26.098]
 
 
Access and costs: easy and free – details: easily walkable from within central Bucharest; the nearest Metro station is at Piata Universitatii a couple of blocks away. Access to the square and its monuments is obviously free. The only cost involved would be that for a drink in the IO Coffee Bar, if you choose to pop in there.
 
 
Time required: about 20-30 minutes should suffice for a good look around; allow extra time at the IO Coffee Bar, for a coffee (or a beer, they even do Belgian ones!) and, more importantly, a good look at the photos from December 1989 …
 
 
Combinations with other dark destinations: see Bucharest.
 
 
Combinations with non-dark destinations: see Bucharest.
 
 
 
  • Bucharest - Piata Revolutiei 1 - potato on a stick monumentBucharest - Piata Revolutiei 1 - potato on a stick monument
  • Bucharest - Piata Revolutiei 2 - Dec 1989 memorial pointing to last-Ceausescu-speech balconyBucharest - Piata Revolutiei 2 - Dec 1989 memorial pointing to last-Ceausescu-speech balcony
  • Bucharest - Piata Revolutiei 3 - memorial plaqueBucharest - Piata Revolutiei 3 - memorial plaque
  • Bucharest - Piata Revolutiei 4 - bullet holesBucharest - Piata Revolutiei 4 - bullet holes
  • Bucharest - Piata Revolutiei 5 - Maniu monumentBucharest - Piata Revolutiei 5 - Maniu monument
  • Bucharest - Piata Revolutiei 6 - Cretulescu ChurchBucharest - Piata Revolutiei 6 - Cretulescu Church
  • Bucharest - Piata Revolutiei 7 - wall of namesBucharest - Piata Revolutiei 7 - wall of names
  • Bucharest - Piata Revolutiei 8 - former Securitate buildingBucharest - Piata Revolutiei 8 - former Securitate building
  • Bucharest - Piata Revolutiei 9 - blown-up photos of Dec 89 at IO cafeBucharest - Piata Revolutiei 9 - blown-up photos of Dec 89 at IO cafe
  • Bucharest - Piata RevolutieiBucharest - Piata Revolutiei
 
    

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