Romanian Athenaeum

This exquisite circular building is the majestic heart of Romania's classical-music tradition. Romanian Athenaeum (Ateneul Roman; Map p60; IW315 8798; Str Franklin 1; admission €1-5; ® 10am-4pm Mon, 2 10pm Tue Wed & Fri, 2-4pm Thu, 10am-10pmSat8iSun) hosts prestigious concerts and should not be missed. Scenes from Romanian history are featured on the in terior fresco inside the Big Hall on the lsl floor, and the dome is 41m high. It was built in 1888 with mostly public funds. A huge appeal dubbed 'Give a Penny for the Athenaeum' saved it from disaster after the original patron's funds dried up. The peristyle is adorned with mosaics of five Romanian rulers, including Moldavian prince Vasile Lupu (r 1512-21), Wallachian Matei Basarab (r 1632-54) and King Carol I (r 1881-1914). The composer George Enescu made his debut here in 1898, followed five years later by the first performance of his masterpiece Romanian Rhapsody. Today, it's home to the George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra.

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