Enjoy a performance by Romania’s most important philharmonic orchestra at the Romanian Athenaeum (Ateneul Român). A neoclassical palace of opulent décor and impressive frescoes, this concert hall is as appealing an attraction as its concerts and world-famous acoustics. Inaugurated in 1888, the Romanian Athenaeum is the creation of French architect Albert Galleron. A public campaign called Dati un leu pentru Ateneu (Give a penny for the Athenaeum) helped save the venue after the original funds ran low.
Before you enter, admire the building’s magnificent façade. Predominately built in a neoclassical style, it also displays hints of romantic features. With a grand porch and Doric pillars, the entrance resembles an ancient temple. Crowning the building is a Baroque cupola. See the façade at its most beautiful at night when illuminated by bright lights.
Step inside and gaze in awe at the ostentatious lobby, which has a gold leaf-painted ceiling and a patterned marble floor. From here, a spiral staircase leads to elegant balconies. Notice the intricately carved wall ornamentation and natural light flooding in from the cupola.
Go to the auditorium, with a seating arrangement similar to ancient Greek and Roman amphitheaters. Besides having incredible acoustics, its walls are adorned with a fresco by Costin Petrescu. It portrays 25 major events in Roman history, such as Emperor Trajan’s victories during the Dacian Wars.
For the complete Romanian Athenaeum experience, book tickets to a concert performance. Today, the George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra is resident and puts on regular shows. Events during the George Enescu festival, which celebrates one of Romania’s most-celebrated composers, also take place here.
Located close to Revolution Square, the concert hall is near major public transportation links. The Piața Romană and Universitate metro stations are each about a 10-minute walk away. Take a short walk to reach the Cișmigiu Garden and the National Museum of Art of Romania.
Visit the Romanian Athenaeum any day, although access is restricted when a show is underway. There is a small admission fee. Purchase event tickets online or at the box office.