Is Romania another poor former communist state left in ruin? Far from it!
First impressions might lead you to think otherwise.
Systematization was the program of urban planning carried out under Nicolae Ceauşescu after his 1971 visit to North Korea and China.
Ceaușima, was the so called program of systematization aiming to demolish vast portions of the central and historical parts of Bucharest and replace them with giant, uniform concrete buildings and high-density standardized apartment blocks.
Ceaușima is a portmanteau of Ceaușescu and Hiroshima, referring to the fact that the dictator managed to tear down a huge part of Bucharest in the final decade of his regime and replace it with his own North Korean-inspired socialist architecture.
Respecting neither traditional rural values nor a positive ethic of urbanism, systematization is considered by some observers to be a major contributing factor to the uncommonly violent fall of the Ceaușescu regime during the Revolution of 1989.
The Romanian Revolution of 1989 ousted Nicolae Ceauşescu and communist rule. The post-revolution Romanian culture has, in architecture and planning, been developing new concepts and plans for the country’s needs of functionality and national aesthetics in an international context.
The fusion of old and new is a constant in Romania, and you see it everywhere. The 1979 earthquake leveled many parts of Bucharest, and parts of neighborhoods were never restored, or they were abandoned all together. The repair project coincided with the building of the Palace of Parliament, and enormous costly project which pulled resources funded by the government away from infrastructure projects such as restoring highways and roads.
Romania’s motorway infrastructure is less than desirable, but it is getting better. The new highway leading to Constanta has improved traffic radically, and slowly areas are being developed to handle the traffic.
Modernity can be found everywhere though – Wifi is common in hotels, restaurants, cafes, and works in their subway system. Long gone are the days of Eastern Europeans in 80s clothes, and attitudes. Bucharest is a modern European city, and the extent of development is reaching all parts of the country, albeit more slowly in smaller villages.
Having said that, the construction of Bucharest and Romania continues. Cranes can be found around the city, and there appears to a growing desire to redevelop the heart of Bucharest.
Ceausescu’s grandiose projects reflective of the Soviet era are still seen, but are slowly blending into the eclectic modern architecture projects seen all over Bucharest.