Western Bucharest Map pp

(otroceni Palace (Jos Cotroceni 1) lies along the western bank of the Dambovita River. It was built between 1891 and 1893 as a gift from King Ferdinand to his wife, Marie, and housed the royal court from 1893 until 1947. Today it contains the charming 19th-century Cotroceni Museum (Muzeul National Cotroceni; is! 221 1200; admission €1.50; ® 9.30am-5.30pm). Visits here must be prebooked.

Northwards is Bucharest's Botanic Garden (Jos Cotroceni; ®9am-1pm Tue, Thu & Sun). Originally part of the palace's park, the gardens were replanted in the university grounds in the 1870s and relocated to the present site in 1884. The garden, spread across 17 hectares and home to some 20,000 plant species from all over Romania, houses the Botanic Museum & Greenhouse (admission €0.50;

® 9am-1pm Tue, Thu & Sun). It's especially good for children.

Visitors won't fail to notice the rather stagnant waters of the Dambovita. This was yet another of Ceau^escu's grand projects. He felt Bucharest lacked a great river like London and Moscow, so he rechannelled the river in an enormous engineering feat, building a massive dam in the west of the city and created Dambovita Lake. Cran-ga$i metro station is about 500m from the dam.

The National Military Museum (Muzeul Militar National; gl637 3830; Str Mircea Vulcanescu 125-127; admission €0.50; ®9am-5pm Tue-Sun) recounts the bloody history of the Romanian army. There is an exhibition on the 1989 revolution; the names of 939 people who died during the bloodshed are engraved on a marble memorial cross. From here, bearing south along Calea Plevnei, you come to the Opera House (Opera Romana; (g 314 6980; B-dul Mihail Kogalniceanu 70). A statue of George Enescu, whose opera Oedipus premiered here, stands in front of the building.

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