Length 6.3 km (3.9 miles)
NOTE: Be prepared to feel like an exotic. I didn't see one other runner in the few days I was in Bucharest.
Bucharest is a pretty funky place. The country is still, even after the post-communist boom, pretty poor. But I have a soft spot in my heart for these kinds of places. The people are down-to-earth and likable. And, despite the new casinos and Gucci- and Armani-shops, the city doesn't try to dazzle you with too much glitter.
But don't let that introduction make you think that there aren't a lot of impressive sites in Bucharest, with an astounding variety of architecture, including more art deco than I've ever seen anywhere else. Every few seconds, you'll come across a beautiful church, theater, bank, villa or government building.
|Along Strada Lipscani in the heart of the old town|
I was in the city this week, in early January, so not the perfect time to run. But the temperature was about 5 degrees Celsius during the days, with no snow.
This route starts in the heart of town: on Calea Victoriei, at the corner of Strada Rosetti, in front of the old royal palace. The palace now houses the National Museum of Art. And across the street from it is the beautiful University Library, with its black mansard roof and the equestrian statue of King Carol I.
|The university library and Carol I|
|Did they say "potato on a stick"?|
Keeping with Bucharest's funky character, a few of the old buildings are beautifully restored, some are just half-way fixed-up, and some are still total ruins. On the first block, you'll run between two perfectly restored National Bank buildings, with some uncovered Roman ruins in the street.
At Strada Selari, turn right and run south until you hit Strada Franceza, where you turn left. This street is great: first, you run by the ruins of the Curtea Veche, the palace of Vlad III ("the Impaler"), better known for his party name of "Dracula".
|Vlad the Impaler, alias Count Dracula|
|Lively St. Anton's|
|In the Mannuc's Inn courtyard|
You will cross the Dambovita River, with the impressive Justice Palace on the other side. There are a lot of pedestrians here, and little old ladies selling their vegetables along the street.
Keep running straight south, with what looks like an open, green square on your left. After a block, you'll come to Bulevardul Unirii, the huge boulevard that Ceausescu built, tearing down half the old town to do it. If you look to the right, you'll see the huge palace that he built for himself crowning the hilltop at the end of the street. Today, the parliament meets there, but I can't imagine how they fill all the rooms.
|Along Bulevardul Unirii|
You will run past an old brick church-tower, then past the cathedral. On the other side of the cathedral, you will see its main entrance, with its golden icons. It forms a courtyard with the Romanian Orthodox Patriarch's small mansion. The Romanians are very religious, and there are huge crowds of people that come here on festive days.
|Patriarch's Cathedral and old Parliament|
|Head down here!|
Turn left, then right to run southwards down Strada Ienachia Vacarescu. Run two blocks to Strada Principatele Unite, where you turn right. This residential neighborhood is old Bucharest like it has been for many years.
|Typical old Bucharest houses|
Cross Regina Maria, with its tram tracks, again, and keep running straight. At the end of the street, you'll see the old Antim monastary on the right. You might want to do a small loop through the grounds and check it out.
Then keep running north, through the big, newer apartment buildings, and you come out onto the very wide Bulevardul Unirii again. Turn left to face the huge palace building, looking westwards.
Now run the one block to cross the Bulevardul Libertatii, in front of Ceausescu's palace (think "Parliament"). Now turn right to run along the huge park in front of the palace, running towards the north.
|The Ceausescu's Palace is now the Parliament building|
At the next intersection, you will come to a park, the Parcul Izvor. Turn left into the park entrance, and follow the white gravel path diagonally past the little playground towards the northern exit of the park, towards the building with the pointed tower.
|The Dambovita River at Izvor|
This is Parcul Cismigliu, Bucharest's oldest park, and a very pleasant place, with its lake and big playground.
|In Cismigliu Park|
|The Atheneum concert hall|