Location, location, location...
Where are you now? Of course at Hotel Christina in Bucarest, Romania, on Ion Slatineanu str., no. 13. But what about the area around? We are a couple of hundred meters from Calea Dorobantilor, exiting left from the hotel. Calea Dorobantilor is not the oldest boulevard in Bucharest, but it has a very interesting history. In fact, it was first mentioned in a document as Ulita Herastraului in 1831. Originally, it started from Calea Victoriei from the White Church (Biserica Alba) and stretched all the way to Bariera Herastraului (Herastrau Barier) – currently the intersection of three main boulevards (Dorobantilor, Stefan cel Mare and Iancu de Hunedoara), just a few hundred meters from Hotel Christina. The barrier acted back in the day as a check-point and one of the entrances in Bucharest, the northern border of the city. So, about 200 years ago, north of here, instead of all the fancy restaurants and cafes, all the way to the current Charles de Gaul square, we had only empty land and vine plantations. In fact, it was strictly forbidden to build north of the Herastrau Barier in order to avoid the uncontrolled expansion of Bucharest. People leaving in this area in the XIX th century were not very wealthy, they were rather average with basic jobs (bakers, construction workers, etc.)
Things started to turn around in 1866 when the boulevard went through a process that aligned the properties on it and that enhanced its promenade potential by planting trees on regular intervals. Up until today there are some secular Platanus trees that still survive from those planted back then.
To honour Romania’s victory in the war of Independence in 1878, the boulevard got its present name of Calea Dorobantilor. The dorobanti were the Romanian foot soldiers and they were using the boulevard as they were marching towards the exit of the city in order to carry their training. In the last part of the XIX th century, the boulevard was extended to its current length: all the way to the Aviators’ Boulevard. During the same time, the area started to attract personalities of the time and the prestige of the neighbourhood grew allot. This marks the start of imposing residences designed by the most renowned architects of the time: Albert Galeron, Paul Gottereau, Louis Blanc, S. Mayer. The most famous ones that are also present today are the mansion built for Ion Lahovary in the French neo-renaissance style by Louis Blanc (today is the Cambridge International Centre, Dorobantilor 39) and the house of Petre Carp, the head of the Conservative Party, built in an eclectic academic style (today is the Turkish Embassy, Dorobantilor 72). Other famous people that had properties in the area: Take Ionescu (Romania’s Prime-minister during the I World War), Bazil Assan, Nicolae Fleva, George Cantacuzino, Henry Catargi, Constantin I.C. Brătianu, Iuliu Maniu and many more.
At the beginning of the XX th century, the Slatineanu family built the building on the Dorobanti bd. No. 60 (located at the end of the Ion Slatineanu street, facing it) as an asylum. Now it is a kindergarten.
After the earthquake in 1977, the communist regime built the blocks of flats on the Dorobanti bd. (destroying some of the old buildings), but this didn’t affect the glamour of it, even though the density of the residents increased and their comfort decreased. Still, the area is currently full with luxury shops, restaurants, cafes.
We are just 5 minutes walking to Piata Romana, one of the main squares of the city, with a very good access to public transportation including the metro; 10 minutes walking to Piata Victoriei and the Government headquarters; 12 minutes walking to the heart of Calea Victoriei, the main historical boulevard of Bucharest (where you can see the Romanian Athenaeum, Royal Palace, Revolution Square, etc.). Furthermore, from Hotel Christina, there is very easy access to some of the best attractions of Bucharest: Arch of Triumph, Village Museum and Primaverii Palace (Ceausescu’s former residence). Some other main sights like the Parliament Palace and Old Town are just a couple of metro stops away or a very short taxi ride. Do you want to experience something of the beaten track just at your doorstep? Enjoy a nice walk in one of the few neighbourhoods that survived the communist times and admire the beautiful mansions built in the interwar period or even before that, scattered on streets with names of capitals from all over the world: Rome, Paris, Tokio, Washington, Londra, Oslo and many more.