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No other neighbourhood in Bucharest has undergone as much change in the past few decades as Lipscani. Until the 1980s, this part of the old city centre, named after one of its main streets, had fallen into serious disrepair. Today, the neighbourhood is the vibrant centre of the Romanian art scene and a popular nightlife destination.
Between the 2 World Wars, Bucharest was known as ‘Little Paris’, but the communist regime slated the entire district for demolition. Fortunately it didn’t come to this and today Lipscani is probably the most interesting neighbourhood in town. The streets have been designated a pedestrian-only area and are lined with fashionable shops, hidden courtyards, antique dealers and many art galleries.
Things change and the residents of Bucharest know this all too well. For centuries, Lipscani was the vibrant trading centre of the city. The names of the streets still refer to the different guilds that plied their trade here: goldsmiths, shoemakers and tanners. Yet after the Second World War, when the communist regime came to power, ‘Little Paris’ withered away. The historic city centre was no longer safe under Dictator Ceaușescu, but somehow Lipscani survived. The neighbourhood didn’t escape entirely unscathed, but many of the buildings have been restored to their former glory. Once the home to stray dogs and children in rags, the neighbourhood now features elegant ladies attending gallery openings. ‘Underground’ theatres have occupied the graffiti-clad buildings and bars and restaurants are multiplying fast. The area has a very laidback ambience, without any of the pretentiousness found in clubs elsewhere in the city.
The service in Bucharest’s hospitality industry has not always been the best – for example, restaurant Caru’ cu Bere at Strada Stavropoleos even had a reputation for its abysmal service. Yet people kept coming as it still had plenty to offer: the magnificent interior, dancing and excellent homebrewed beer. Luckily, these things haven’t changed, but since the new millennium the service has improved significantly. Outside there is even a sign that reads ‘Probably the best restaurant in Bucharest’.
Strada Stavropoleos 5