Bucharest (bōˈkərĕst, byōˈ–) [key], Rom. Bucureşti, city (1990 pop. 2,394,284), capital and largest city of Romania, SE Romania, in Walachia, on the Dîmboviţa River, a tributary of the Danube. It is Romania's chief industrial and communications center. Agricultural machinery, automotive equipment, and buses are the main manufactures. The city, probably founded in the late 14th cent., was first known as Cetatea Dambovitei [Dambovita citadel] and was a military fortress and commercial center astride the trade routes to Constantinople. It became (1459) a residence of the Walachian princes and changed its name (15th cent.) to Bucharest. In 1698 the city became the capital of Walachia under Constantine Brancovan; after the union (1859) of Walachia and Moldavia it was made (1861) the capital of Romania. The Treaty of Bucharest (1913) stripped Bulgaria of its conquests in the Second Balkan War (see Balkan Wars). During World War I, Bucharest was occupied (1916–18) by the Central Powers. After Romania's surrender to the Allies (Aug., 1944) in World War II, German planes severely bombed the city; Soviet troops entered on Aug. 31, by which time a coalition of leftist parties had seized power. Bucharest served as headquarters of the Cominform from 1948 to 1956. Today it is a modern city, with parks, libraries, museums, and theaters, and is the seat of the patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church. Landmarks include the Metropolitan Church (1649), the 17th-century St. George Church, the Radu Voda (1649) and Stavropoleos (1724–30) churches, and the Athenaeum, devoted to art and music. Among the city's educational institutions are the old university (founded 1864), the new university (1935), an engineering college, and several academies and scientific institutes. During the 1980s, Romanian President Nicolae Ceauçescu attempted to transform Bucharest into a model socialist-planned city. He ordered the demolition of much of the Old City to make way for massive new state buildings, such as the Museum of Romanian History, in which his body was to be entombed. To provide the city with a river, he had the Dimboviţa River rechanneled through S Bucharest.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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