The oldest garden in Bucharest – Cișmigiu

Today I will take you on a new trip so, grab my hand and let’s have a walk. We will walk in one of my favorite places, a beautiful park in Bucharest, my home city. It is one of my favorite parks because it is old, beautiful and in the middle of the city. It is also lovely to walk on a cloudy day with some thunder and lightning in the summer because things seem more mysterious.

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I say mysterious as this place has a long history. It is actually the first park we had in Bucharest. Grab my hand, and let’s walk through the history of this place. Long ago on this land, there used to be a lake called “The Lake of Dura Neguțătorul,” probably a comerciant during Matei Basarab reign ( around 17 century ), but at that time it wasn’t a park, it was just a land full of water. The park’s history will begin in 1779 when Alexandru Ipsilanti, the ruler at that time, wishing to build a fountain, ordered its construction on the place where the park is now standing. He will put in charge Dumitru Siulgi-basa – a Romanian with a Turkish name, a man whom he set in charge to oversee the maintenance of the water pumps. This guy will have his house built in the same area as the fountain. The fountain was a source of drinking water to people, so many people probably came and got water from here. Soon there will be a new job called “sacagiu,” they were the people who brought water for those that wanted. It seems this fountain had some inconveniences because the excess of water will become a swamp later and a source of infection as the water was just sitting there. After the fountain was built, the place which was known as “The Lake of Dura Neguțătorul” will slowly get a new name, Cișmigiu. The name came from Dumitru’s job and because he had his house next to the fountain. The area where the park is located used to get full of water after heavy rains, so all the area will be flooded all the way to what is now Cercul Militar.
Cișmigiu started to be more like a park much later. The first step was taken by Pavel Kiseleff, who demanded the drying up of the pond and the land to be made a public garden. This starts happening much later in the time of Gheorghe Bibescu when the place will be arranged as a public garden. The landscaper Wilhem Mayer was brought to set the garden. He used to be the director of Imperials Gardens of Vienna. He will have some help from the gardener Franz Harer.
More will be done in Barbu Știrbei time. He will decide to dig up a pond to connect it with the river Dâmbovița with a channel. Later, in 1851, the artesian fountain in the middle of the lake was inaugurated. In 1852 some benches will appear in the park, and also the garden will have a groove fence. Two years later, Cișmigiu will be inaugurated as a public garden, a place where everyone could walk, where the beauty, rich and poor, will blend in together.
In 1856 a part of the lake will be dried because of the shoemakers in the area who used to throw scraps in the lake.
Later during the winter, when the lake would freeze, it will be used as an ice-skating place where people could have some fun in the winter, so we can come in winter and have some fun on the lake.
Now, after I have told you a little about the history of the park. Let me tell you about some more exciting things. It seems that there is an old tunnel under the park that was used in troubled times. The entrance is at the ancient fortress, which is not actually a fortress. It used to be an old church in the time of Logofăt Văcărescu around 1756. From the old church, beside the walls, you can find a Cyrillic inscription currently in the church “Schitu Măgureanu,” near the park.

The tunnels used to be from Cișmigiu to Calea Victoriei, to the Cercul Militar and what used to be the Sărindar Church, going to the National Bank than arriving at the Old Court. One of the tunnels was going to the Văcărești Monastery. It is a big tunnel, so big that you could go with a carriage inside. We can try to find the entry into the tunnels and visit half of the city by the tunnels. I hope we will manage not to get lost in them. But before we enjoy the tunnels, we can enjoy a walk in what used to be the old church. We will admire the ancient walls that probably had seen many things from lovers that were looking for a quiet place to more violent times when maybe some were hiding into the walls of the church running for their lives.
Now, let’s go to the oldest tree in the park. It is a beautiful tree. The pigeons like it, and the rumors have it that there might be a treasure buried under it. Fortunately, the tree is protected by law, so nobody would dig for it.
Now we will go visit that part where we can admire some birds. They are friendly, and they like the little lake they have on here. The next stop will be the spring of Mihai Eminescu. It seems the poet used to come here and have some fresh water, as he used to work and live near the park.
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We can walk on the writers round and have a quiet talk with them, maybe they have some exciting things to say as they’ve seen many things since 1943 when they stay as a silent witness of times. Then we will walk to the watchtower where sometimes we can enjoy some music or just the sound of the pigeons. We can admire the old platan trees. We can look at the oldest newspaper shop in Bucharest at the park exit.

It stood for many years in the park, sharing the news of the new times and old times.P1360377_DxO
I hope you enjoyed our walk in the park and that you will come soon on another trip with me.

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