20 WOW Buildings in Romania

20 WOW Buildings in Romania

One of the first things I do when planning to visit a new country is look for a list of famous buildings to see. Do you do the same?

If yes, then in this article I prepared a list of Romania’s famous landmarks and most beautiful buildings that are worth seeing not just for their looks but also for the stories they have to tell and what they represent for our history and culture.

Speaking of looks, Romanian buildings come in a variety of shapes, sizes and architecture styles ranging from:

  • massive medieval castles and churches in Transylvania
  • elegant 19th-century villas that earned Bucharest the title of Little Paris
  • imposing buildings (so-called brutalist) from the communist era
  • modern buildings and skyscrapers typical of Western society


Architecture connoisseurs will be delighted to find:

  • in cities such as Oradea, Timisoara and Cluj-Napoca lots of art nouveau and renaissance buildings
  • Sibiu, Brasov and Sighisoara are renowned for their baroque and gothic Old Town areas
  • in Bucharest and other cities in Wallachia and Moldova you'll find neoclassical, eclectic and the unique Romanian brancovenesc architectural style (a combination of byzantine, ottoman, and late renaissance)


The most famous buildings in Romania everyone will tell you about include Bran Castle (aka Dracula's Castle), the Palace of Parliament (2nd largest building in the world), Peles Castle and a variety of churches from medieval times.

But there are also several less popular but equally impressive buildings and historical monuments that are representative of Romania’s history, culture, architecture and life today. For example:

  1. Sarmizegetusa Regia, the capital of the Dacian kingdom before the Romans conquered it 2,000 years ago
  2. CEC Palace, a symbol of Romania’s hard-won financial independence
  3. the kulas in Wallachia, fortified boyar houses


Seeing all of them might be a bit tricky when you visit Romania for the first time. Our country is quite large and the Carpathian Mountains create sceneries - and logistical challenges - that surprise many travelers.

That’s why we include many of them in our city tours, day trips or when planning private sightseeing trips to natural attractions such as the Danube Delta or the Berca mud volcanoes.

So if you’re interested in visiting some of these famous Romanian buildings then you can travel on your own and combine with our day trips. You’ll find lots of resources on our website to help with that.

And if you’re just looking to get inspired by some beautiful images, then I’ve got you covered and you’re going to discover what a beautiful country Romania is :)

So let's dive deeper into our list of 20 impressive Romanian buildings:

1. Palace of the Parliament, Bucharest

The Palace of Parliament is a symbol of the communist regime that came to power after the II World War and the most famous landmark in the city of Bucharest, our capital.

The tremendous building holds several records such as the heaviest building, the second largest administrative building (365.000 square meters), and the most expensive administrative building in the world.

The construction of Romania’s parliament building began in 1983 and is the best example of the irresponsible megalomania of dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu. Blinded by his personality cult, he though this construction would make Romanians proud and show the strength of our country. That's why this buildings goes by many names: People’s Palace, the House of the People or the House of the Republic.

But this imposing building became the final nail in the coffin of the Romanian communist regime. To finance the massive construction costs, drastic measures such as food and electricity rationing were introduced, pushing people to the brink of poverty and exasperation.

Even after the 1989 Romanian Revolution, the People's House remained a subject of controversy for its exaggerated volume, extravagant architecture and high cost the people paid for it. There were even proposals to demolish it!

The colossal edifice is currently used by the Romanian government and houses the Chamber of Deputies, the Senate, the Department of Emergency Situations, and several other state institutions. Only part of it can be visited on official tours that will tell you more about the building - but nothing about Romania's communist history or Nicolae Ceausescu. So consider taking one of our communist-themed tours if you're interested in the subject.

In front of the Palace of Parliament, Ceausescu's masterpiece
Communist Walking Tour: History, Megalomania & Hidden Sights

Start from: Revolution Square next to the Rebirth Memorial (The patatoe)

See details

The architecture of the Palace of Parliament is the perfect place for the biggest video mapping competition in the world to be organised - check it out!

2. Black Church, Brasov

Located in Brasov’s Old Town, the Black Church is one of the oldest buildings in Transylvania and has a history dating back to medieval times.

The Evangelical church (later Lutheran) was erected by the Saxon (German) settlers between 1385 and 1477 on the site of an earlier 12th-century church - a Catholic nunnery. The name of the church derives from the 1689 fire which devastated the town and blackened the church’s walls.

This church is the largest Gothic style constructions in Romania, bigger than the churches from Cluj-Napoca and Biertan.

Every time I go to Brasov, I enjoy gazing at its ample vaults, colorful murals, and the extensive collection of Ottoman rugs.

Don't forget about the typical Baroque pulpit and the colossal organ, which is still functional these days. Organ concerts in the Black Church are one of the best things to do in Brasov, Romania’s most popular tourist city.

3. Romanian Athenaeum, Bucharest

The Romanian Athenaeum hosts the most iconic neoclassical building in the heart of Bucharest, near Revolution Square. It’s a symbol of Romanian culture and classical music tradition and another famous tourist attraction in Bucharest.

The circular free-form building inaugurated in 1888 was designed by the French architect Albert Galleron in the Art Nouveau style. Since then, the cultural venue - nicknamed the “Romanian Temple of Arts", has become known for its superior acoustics which is why it's the main concert hall in the city.

I remember going to the Athenaeum for the George Enescu Philharmonic and George Enescu International Festival. I will never forget those years and the stunning highly-ornated interior design of the Athenaeum.

4. Mogosoaia Palace

Located only 15 km from Bucharest, Mogosoaia Palace is part of a wider compound of buildings that once served as the summer residence of the Romanian royal family. The ensemble includes the palace itself, a guesthouse, a kitchen house, a church, and a watchtower surrounded by historical gardens.

Like Ruginoasa palace, Mogosoaia Palace was built by Constantin Brancoveanu, Prince of Wallachia, between 1698 and 1702. It features an inspiring blend of Romanian and Art Nouveau architecture, which led to the creation of the unique local architecture style called neo-Brancovenesc style.

I think it's one of the most beautiful buildings representative for Romanian culture and history.

Some of the architectural elements I like the most are the intricate stone carvings and the open loggia of the palace, overlooking the lake and the vast gardens. Having this in mind, the palace can be easily considered one of the most iconic landmarks around Bucharest.

5. Sapanta-Peri Monastery

Sapanta-Peri Monastery stands in a large meadow in Livada Dendrological Park. It is a tranquil monastery complex with gardens close to the village of Sapanta where you can find the famous Merry Cemetery. Besides, the monastery has one of the most quested wooden churches in Maramures.

The original church was built in 1391, while the current structure was erected not far from the initial location in 1997. The Orthodox church has a 78-meter-high tower and holds the record for the tallest wooden church in the world which is why it's also part of UNESCO heritage.

6. Fagaras Fortress

Located halfway between Brasov and Sibiu, at the foot of the Romanian Carpathian Mountains, Fagaras Fortress proudly stands as one of the best-preserved medieval castles in Romania.

The construction started on the site of a former wooden fortress in 1310. The structure was later extended between the 15th and 17th centuries and thus became one of the strongest fortifications in Transylvania.

Over the centuries, the stronghold protected the southeastern part of Transylvania against the frequent invasions of the Ottoman Empire.

Customise this tour to include a visit to Fagaras Fortress

But besides its military role, it also served as a residence for various medieval princes and their families similar to Hunedoara Castle (aka Corvin Castle). So besides dungeons and armories, you'll find dormitories and banquet halls. The fortress now houses a museum with Roman artifacts and medieval weapons.

Last year when I went there I could gaze for hours at its solid defense system consisting of an eight-meter-thick wall, five watchtowers, and a deep moat with water. You are simply blown away when you see these solutions and details, ingenious for their times.

One of the most beautiful buildings in Bucharest

7. CEC Palace, Bucharest

The CEC Palace is located in the Old Town area of Bucharest on Calea Victoriei one of the oldest boulevards in the capital lined with historic buildings. Go for a walk on this street and you’ll see the highest-value architecture in the city (the Romanian Atheneum, the National Museum of Art of Romania or the George Enescu Museum) alongside modern buildings.

Built between 1897 and 1900 in the Art Nouveau style, the palace housed the headquarters of Romania's oldest bank (Casa de Depuneri, Consemnațiuni și Economie - later known as the C.E.C. acronym) for almost 106 years.

The edifice strikes with a grandiose glass-paneled and metal dome, which is absolutely unbelievable when you stand under its huge opening. Even though it was a bit affected by the big earthquake on March 4th, 1977, the building remains a significant landmark of Little Paris, as Bucharest was once nicknamed.

It continues to operate as an important building for the bank and even though CEC Palace isn’t open to the general public, it is for some events and special occasions so you can also go inside if you’re lucky to be in town then.

8. The Clock Tower in Sighisoara Citadel

The Clock Tower with a multicolored roof is the emblem of Sighisoara, the only inhabited medieval fortress in the historic region of Transylvania. Erected in the 14th century, the historical monument served as a defensive tower and the main entry gate to the citadel with medieval housing units. It has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with the entire historic center in Sighisoara.

With a height of 64 meters, the iconic structure boasts panoramic views of the city. On the way up to the last floor of the tower, I recall carefully observing an intricate clock with puppet small statues built in Switzerland and installed in 1648. The tower houses the History Museum in Sighisoara which is worth a quick visit.

9. Palace of Culture in Iasi

The Palace of Culture in Iasi features both great historical significance and high-value architectural elements. My favorite thing is that the exterior facade of the palace is covered with intricate decorations, making it a remarkable example of Neo-Gothic architecture in Moldova (one of the three historic regions in Romania) and probably the most famous landmark in the region.

Built between 1906 and 1925, the royal palace stands on the old ruins of the 15th-century medieval Royal Court of Moldavia. It has almost 300 rooms, covering a surface of 36,000 square meters. Serving as the Administrative and Justice Palace until 1955, the building now houses the Moldova National Museum Complex and the Cultural Heritage Conservation - Restoration Center.

10. Constanta Casino

Next on our list is the most famous landmarks at the Romanian Black Sea. Constanta Casino had its grand opening in 1910 and served as - guess what? - a casino and entertainment venue. The opulent edifice was built in the Art Nouveau style popular for those times along a seafront promenade. It features lavishly decorated interiors, including a ballroom, two games halls and two reading halls.

Sitting on a rock formation, it functioned as a gambling venue for 38 years and became a playground for the local elites and wealthy visitors during its heyday. I would have liked to live in that era and gamble here just to feel the vibe of the sumptuous casino decors.

After suffering serious damages in World War I and II, the Casino was renovated and repurposed as a restaurant in 1960. This didn’t work very well though, especially in the later years of the communist regime because of the high maintenance costs, stifled initiative and the general grim mood of those times.

The building closed in the early ‘90s and was practically abandoned. Like many other impressive buildings in Romania, it entered a process of beautiful decay that, ironically, boosted its popularity.

Since 2020 the building entered a massive - and overdue - rehabilitation process and I truly hope the restoration works will bring it back to its former glory.

11. National Theater and Opera Building, Cluj-Napoca

The imposing building that houses the National Theater and Opera represents one of the most well-known sights you've got to put on your list of things to do in Cluj.

The construction was completed in 1906 after the plans of the Austrian architects Ferdinand Fellner and Hermann Helmer. They designed the building in a rich Baroque-Rococo style, with a capacity of no less than 1000 seats.

The two institutions were inaugurated in 1919, one year after the Great Union of the three historical Romanian regions of Moldova, Wallachia and Transylvania. Their opening marked a period of cultural and spiritual renaissance, Romania’s golden years.

Even if you’re not a big fan of cultural shows, it is worth it to book a ticket here and immerse in the elegant interiors of Viennese influence. When I enter a rococo interior, I can't help but feel as if I'm in Vienna.

12. Voronet Monastery, Bucovina

Voronet Monastery was built by Stephen the Great in 1488 in a record three months and three weeks. It was meant to commemorate his victory against the Ottoman Empire in Vaslui. He was one of Moldova's most famous rulers in medieval times, an important figure in Romania's history.

The Monastery is renowned worldwide for the intense and peculiar shade of blue used in the frescoes on the outside walls. The color commonly known as Voronet blue managed to remain just as vibrant 500 years after being painted. Its mysterious formula continues to puzzle artists and scientists to this day, which is why it's a source of superstition and religious fame.

Given its historic and cultural significance, the monastery with its church was included in the UNESCO World Heritage in 1993, along with the other Painted Churches in Bucovina.

13. George Enescu Museum, Bucharest

The historical palace was commissioned by Gheorghe Grigore Cantacuzino, called “Nababul”, the richest man in Romania at the time and former prime minister. The construction was completed in 1903 in a blend of French Beaux Arts style and Rococo Revival, giving the building a very distinctive appearance.

Also known as the Cantacuzino Palace (after the name of its founder), the current museum is housed in one of the most elegant buildings in the city center of Bucharest, not far from Cotroceni Palace.

  • Local insight: don't confuse this with Cantacuzino Castle in Busteni which also belonged to Grigore Cantacuzino.

After the communist regime stripped the original owners of their property, the building's destination changed. Founded in 1956, the museum is dedicated to George Enescu, a musical genius, composer and famous Romanian.

So now you've got two reasons to visit this building :)

14. Biertan Fortified Church

Nestled in the hills of Transylvania, the Lutheran Fortified Church in Biertan was built by Saxon colonists between 1486 and 1524. The Saxons were invited to colonise the region by the King of Hungary (as Transylvania under his rule ) and help defend it from the frequent attacks of Tartars and later of the Ottoman Empire.

Like many other Romanian churches, the Biertan church was not just a place of worship but also a cultural and administrative center, as well as a shelter for the village community during attacks and times of distress.

The compound of the fortified church features three successive fortification enclosures with thick walls, six towers, and three bastions.

Saxons also continued the traditions from their homeland and constructed their churches in the late Gothic style with intriguing Renaissance elements for window and door frames. The church itself retains many of its original elements, including the altar and an ornate door with an ingenious locking system. Also, the surrounding area is impressive for its neat terraced vineyards and traditional Saxon households.

15. Bratianu Mansion in Florica

Located in Stefanesti town (approximately 1h away from Bucharest), Bratianu Mansion is part of a larger compound built in 1858 that includes the manor house, a farm, a chapel, a wine cellar, a train station, and even an astronomical observatory. When you enter the estate, you can feel the bohemian vibe of the family that once lived here.

The Bratianu family was a major political dynasty in Romania's history. Ion C. Brătianu dominated Romanian politics in the 19th-century and orchestrated the birth of the Romanian royal family by bringing King Carol of Hohenzollern on the throne.

Besides the reputation, the family's wealth was significant too. The mansion was named after Bratianu’s first daughter, Florica. It is one of the best-preserved buildings of its kind representative of the Wallachian 'boyar' architecture. There's a national museum in the building with a lovely cafe in the backyard, so worth visiting.

16. Maldaresti Cula, Horezu

Situated 4 kilometers from Horezu, Maldaresti Cula is a well-preserved Oltenian kula – a tower-shaped semi-fortified house. These were very common in Southern Romania of the 18th century when wealthy merchants and nobleman wanted to protect themselves against thieves and invaders.

This imposing building stands on an 8,000 square meters estate and has 18 rooms featuring a notable Brancovenesc style. It preserves all the original architectural details specific to these types of buildings: thick walls, a white-plastered exterior, a high tower, inner stairs, and an arched porch. You'll also see some crenels used for defence.

A boutique, luxury hotel operates in this cula so you can spend an incredible night here. And there are several other Romanian culas worth visiting if they interest you.

17. Vulturul Negru, Oradea

In the far West of the country the city of Oradea is known as the Art Nouveau capital of Romania. There are over 20 beautiful buildings famous for their architectural value, all of which have been restored in recent years.

The most famous landmark in the city is by far the Vulturul Negru Palace (translated as Black Eagle). Built between 1907-1908 in the elegant and sophisticated Secession style. It was part of a new development plan for the city devised by urban planners tasked to reorganise the city's main square.

The building stretches across two street fronts, with a high ground floor and four stories. It is made of two main wings connected by a glazed passage housing a shopping gallery and features an asymmetric façade to the river.

At the time of its opening, the construction housed a casino, a hotel, office spaces, and a restaurant. It was the most remarkable building of this kind in Oradea. It currently houses several cafes, shops, restaurants, offices and a hotel.

Oradea is the hometown of Marius, the founder of Romanian Friend. While he travels all over the country, contact us if you plan on visiting his city - you might meet him at one of the cafes in the square. He'll gladly take you for a quick tour of his city.

18. Bruck House, Timisoara

Located in Timisoara’s Union Square, Brück House is one of the most colorful historic buildings in the city. It resembles a thin slice of cake, and I love it because it makes me think of Christmas gingerbread from childhood.

There has been a pharmacy on the site of the building since 1898, used in the following years by pharmacist Salamon Brück. Originally built in the Viennese Baroque style, it was later rebuilt in 1910 in an eclectic combination of Art Nouveau and secession styles.

The edifice consists of a ground floor and three upper floors, and its facade is covered in ceramic tiles featuring Hungarian folklore motifs. The pharmacy still works today and much of the original furniture and display cases are still in use. So if you're planning to visit Timisoara seeing this famous building is a must.

19. Brukenthal Museum, Sibiu

Located in Sibiu’s historic center, the palace was constructed between 1778 and 1788 in pure Baroque style with strong Viennese influences. In the beginning, it was used as a personal residence for Baron Samuel von Brukenthal, as well as a space for his extensive fine medieval Transylvanian artworks, plus Flemish, Dutch, and Italian paintings.

Brukenthal was the governor of Transylvania (now part of the Habsburg Empire) and had a particular interest in arts and culture, and a desire to liberalise education. So his influence and legacy was quite significant.

After Brukhental’s death, it was opened as a museum as stated in the baron’s will. Brukhental wanted to offer all his precious collections to the public and thus, Brukenthal Museum became the first museum in Romania and Southeast Europe and the largest of its kind. It's famous even today for the collection it houses and a quick visit is one of the best things to do in Sibiu.

And now, I will tell you a little secret. As I live in Sibiu, I often pass the Large Square where the palace stands. Every time I see its elegant facade, I am blown away by its architectural richness. It’s like I see it for the first time. That’s the result of good, quality architecture.

20. Curtea de Arges Monastery

Curtea de Arges Monastery is a representative sample of the Romanian Orthodox church and is located in the eponymous city. Built by Prince Neagoe Basarab in the early 16th century, it’s one of the most important religious monuments in Romania.

The Legend of Craftsman Manole, the architect-in-chief, says that Manole couldn’t build the monastery without a human sacrifice. Despite all his efforts and prayers, he was forced to sacrifice his own pregnant wife by encasing her inside the church walls.

The church features a unique architecture, blending the Byzantine style with Moorish arabesques. It also serves as the resting place of King Carol the 1st of Romania, Queen Elizabeth, and King Ferdinand (his wife was Queen Marie, the last queen of Romania).

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So, here you have it - our choices for the most beautiful buildings in Romania.

Obviously there are others too, but I hope this gives you a place to start and some inspiration for when you visit Romania.

Don’t be shy if you need any help while planning your trip - that's what we're here for!

Your Romanian Friend,

Iuliana

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