Piata Unirii

From Piata Unirii metro station, walk over to the large ornamental fountain in the middle of the square. On the northeastern side is the Unirea Shopping Centre (Map pp54-5; B-dul Unirii), and the main city market is a long block behind it - shop here for fresh fruit and vegetables.

The Dambovita River snakes up to the northeastern corner before disappearing underground, beneath the square, on its journey to the southwest of the city. The natural twists and turns of the river were canalised between 1880 and 1883 and further enhanced with concrete in the 1980s.

A foundation stone laid in the centre of Piata Unirii in January 1999 marks the site of the proposed Cathedral of National Salvation (Catedrala Mantuirii Neamului). Realists insist the Romanian Orthodox Church will never raise the millions of euros needed to build their pipe-dream edifice.

Patriarchal Cathedral (Catedrala Patriahala; Map pp54-5; Str Dealul Mitropoliei) sits south of Piata mu II A H m lyhli t «( (■ .11 I-AHI lAMI Nl IA( I K l-iction i mi' ivnii .1111 i ..(. mil tills massive edifice. More than a symbol of Ceau$escu's Commute ¡.I i,in.I . i.i.Uy .is a reminder of the price Romania paid to satisfy the egotistical lihiii ■ 't Hi. i.l.ii ..ml I lena. While people starved, hospitals suffered shortages of medicine, and in,in in ijiiinnil to a halt, Ceaujescu embarked on building the world's second-largest building ,n ,iu tisilmnted cost of €3.3 billion.

Tilt« monument has attracted its own myths that, added to the facts, make the Palace of Parliament Bucharest's most fascinating architectural wonder.

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