Cismigiu Garden (1852)
A visit to Bucharest would not be complete without a stroll through the romantic Cismigiu Garden, a favorite and loved place for the locals. Bucharesters of all ages enjoy the alleys, the oak benches, the chestnut trees, the lake, the wonderful seasonal changes of flower beds and foliage.
It could be noted that the modernization of Bucharest started with Cismigiu. At the mid-19th century, the Austrian landscape architect Carl Friedrich Meyer, former director of the Vienna Imperial Gardens, was asked to transform a swampy terrain into a public garden, which he wonderfully accomplished. A sad story is that Meyer died at a young age, of typhoid fever, soon after he had finished the garden. Cismigiu was further redesigned in 1910 in the shape we can see today by another Austrian, the architect Friedrich Rebhun.
But where this peculiar name “Cismigiu” comes from? The “Great Cismigiu” was the chief in charge with maintaining public fountains -”Ceşme” stands for fountain in Turkish. He built for himself a house near the present garden, where had been installed one of the two existing fountains of the city. Thus, in the urban folklore, the name of the place remained to our days Cismigiu.
The garden has several entrances on three sides, and the neighborhoods around Cismigiu are attractive themselves, with historic buildings, villas and houses dating from the period between the two World Wars. Cismigiu offers the best perspective to Bucharest’s City Hall on Elisabeta Boulevard. On one of the sides there is the romantic sumptuous palace built for Princess Elena Kretulescu, descendant of two noble families. Kretulescu Palace (1902, achitect Petre Antonescu, the same one responsible also for designing the City Hall building) houses since 1972 the UNESCO’s European Centre for Higher Education.
In 2012 Cismigiu Garden celebrates 160 years of existence. The newspaper kiosk at one of the entrances from Elisabeta Boulevard, dating from 1879, is the second of its kind ever built in Bucharest, and the oldest one still standing.