Our city’s geography was quite generous in the past. The small islands on Dâmbovița, which absorbed the water excess and protected the nearby districts from floods, were often surounded by forests. Fragments of these riches survived until the mid 19th century, but started to dissapear as the city’s demographic structure developed: new districts, industrial spaces etc.
In the West of the city, where Old St. Elefterie church lies, there once was a vast area of forest stretching far into Cotrocenilor Hill. After 1850, a part of this area became the Zdrafcu garden situated on the actual spot of the Medical Heroes Monument. Around 1870, a large dance hall was arranged with a theatre room inside Zdrafcu garden. As the city was being extended and the terrain was plotted, after the First World War the garden gradually disappeared. Close by, on Dâmbovița’s other bank where the Faculty of Law now is, there used to be another garden, Procopoaiei garden, that stretched up on Plevnei Street. Scufa garden was situated at the intersection of Pleveni Street and the Queen’s Boulevard and its time of glory was somewhere between 1850 and 1900. After the First World War it dissapeared into a waste land where „the Guard Regiment kept its fodder” as the Army’s Bakery was close-by.
One of Bucharest greatest lost gardens was the Belvedere, which was situated between the actual Mircea Vulcănescu Street (former Fracmazon) and the North Railway Station district. This was one of the first public gardens created ad hoc, a witness to the modernization of costumes and manners. Starting with 1870 it rappidly dissapears, as the Military Hospital and Museum started to appear, together with the North Railway Station and the connected districts.
Who would ever believe that small patches of color once existed in the very center of city: Sărindarului garden next to the Military Circle; Slatter garden close to today’s Valter Mărăcineanu Square; The Garden with Horses not far from Mihail Kogălniceanu’s statue; Rașca garden on the present Edgar Quinet street; The Universal Garden of “young rake men” in today’s University Square where not too long ago the famous clock of dates existed; “master Stavri’s” garden on Academiei Street; Oteteleșanu garden by the Telephones Palace; Union Garden on Ion Câmpineanu Street, famously evoked by Caragiale in his play “A Stormy Night”; the large Heliad’s garden in today’s Obor Market area, where the ruins of Heliade Rădulescu’s house laid; Ivașcu’s garden on the old Vergului barrier; Orfeu’s garden behind the Royal Palace.
If we journey further down history, we come across the beautiful garden designed “on the principles of the Italian School” which surrounded today’s Bărăția, or the large English garden of the Dudescu family that charmed Lady Craven, the familys guest, in the 18th century. The Saint Apostols Street went across this lovely garden of the old Bucharest.
The problem is not necesarily that these gardens have dissapeared, but the fact that the inhabitants of today’s Bucharest, unlike those from the 1900s, do not posses the same calm and peace to make them protect every square meter of green space or the desire to create a garden around their homes to delight the sight of passerbys.
The Lost Garden of Bucharest is organized together with „Ion Mincu” University of Architecture and Urbanism, Landscape Design and Planning department.