Bucharest’s Village Museum: Longing for the Simple Life

Like A Local Guide • 21 Nov, 2017

Bucharest is a city that’s neither easy to understand, nor easy to fall in love with. The beauty of Bucharest must be discovered because here, beauty hides in mysterious places. If you can spot these places, you’ll see that Bucharest is an amazing city.

“The town of lovers” (as I like to call it) is a mix of very different things: old and new, beauty and ugliness, elegance and bad taste, French neoclassical architecture and communist blocks of flats, downheartedness and the American Dream. If you’re courageous enough to hunt for beauty in Bucharest, the city can be quite a treasure trove. In spite of all its shortcomings, it can, without a doubt, take your breath away.

In the hope that you’ll get the opportunity to discover the beauty of Bucharest, I’ll try to help you a little by letting you know about one of the city’s most mysterious places: the Village Museum, located in Bucharest’s spectacular Herăstrău Park.

Photo credit: Mihai Scarlat

The Village Museum is a good starting point for getting to know the authentic Romanian lifestyle. The old country houses look like they’re straight out of a fairy-tale, and give visitors a good understanding of the Romanian quest for simplicity. In general, Romanians prefer an uncomplicated, innocent and natural life, but they seldom succeed in living this way. This results in an overwhelming feeling of discomfort. The Village Museum is the perfect place for a journey into Romania’s past, when life was closer to nature and much more simple.

Photo credit: Mihai Scarlat

One by one, the old houses, churches and mills at the Village Museum will show you how important it is for Romanians to be surrounded by beauty. Not only are these old buildings meant to be functional, they’re also meant to be pleasant on the eyes. Just take a look inside! The walls, little windows, tables and household objects are arranged in perfect harmony. The light in the houses will make you dream of living a simple life among friends, closer to the sky. It’s like listening to Bach’s “Air”.

Village Museum, Bucharest Photo credit: Village Museum

The museum’s history began on the 17th of May 1936, the day of its inauguration. Maybe at that moment Romania wasn’t ready for the Second World War, but at least it was prepared to preserve its beauty. With the help of enthusiastic sociologists and ethnographers led by Dimitrie Gusti, tens of old houses from various Romanian regions were transported to Bucharest and put together piece by piece to form the Village Museum. Over time the number of houses has grown bigger and bigger, making it one of the most important open-air ethnographic museums in the world.

The Village Museum was lucky enough not to be destroyed during the war, though it was severely damaged under the communist regime. In the 70s and 80s, communist leaders believed that the museum represented an archaic form of life, and should be replaced with modern structures. Fortunately, there were people who believed in the museum’s value and were ready to fight to preserve it.

village_museuMihai Scarlat – Village Museum, BucharestPhoto credit: Mihai Scarlat

Nowadays, the Village Museum is more popular than ever. Locals consider it an unmissable tourist destination. In my opinion, it’s an interesting starting point for a Bucharest city break. It’s also a great opportunity to discover that Romanians are sociable, funny, extremely kind, eager to live well and eager to inspire others to live well. Take a stroll through the Village Museum and see for yourself!

For more local recommendations read:
What locals like to do in Bucharest
Where locals like to eat in Bucharest
Where locals like to party in Bucharest

Special tip:
For even more Bucharest tips, get the Like A Local mobile app

mihai_scarlatMihai Scarlat is a Bucharest local with a Ph.D. in Philosophy. He enjoys reading (especially Hermann Hesse), travelling, spending quality time with family and friends and being outdoors in Bucharest. He believes in kindness, humanity, reason and thinking outside the box.

Mihai’s blog: Town of Lovers

Opening photo credit: Mihai Scarlat

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