Herastrau Park is located in the northern part of Bucharest and it is the largest park of the city. It is formed around a lake with the same name, product of the Colentina River.
Before its current name, the park suffered several name changes. At first, it was intended to be named the National Park, but during Carol’s II of Romania reign, the park was given his name. Along with the Second World War, the park got a new name again, I. V. Stalin Park, and also a statue of this dictator. Afterwards, as a process of de-Stalinization, the statue was removed and the park got a new name, now after the lake within it – Herastrau. The origin of this name is the word”ferastrau”, translated as saw or sawmill. It is said that sawmills were found in the Colentina river.
The park measures 1.1 square kilometers and the lake within has an area of 74 hectares. The alley that surrounds the lake is almost 6 kilometers long. Several important boulevards define the frontier of the park: Aviatorilor Avenue, Prezan Avenue, the Kiseleff road and 4 others. The park is divided in two parts, a public area, where all activities take place, and a more picturesque area, where the Village Museum lies.
History says that around the year 1806, the elite world of Bucharest was often seen strolling on the banks of the Herastrau Lake. Therefore, in 1936, the park took shape after 5 years of work. In the same year, the ethnographic open-air Village Museum of Dimitrie Gusti was built on the park’s territory. There is also the Elisabeth Palace, which is the official residence of King Mihai I of Romania. This is where he forcefully signed his abdication and went into exile.
In 1920, well-known personalities founded the “Country Club”, now named the “Diplomatic Group”, which features a golf course.
Not to be left unmentioned is the fact that on the territory of the park were found traces of life that date from the Paleolithic, in the form of mammoth bones. Archeologists also found a Dacian treasure of silver objects and coins from Ancient Greece.
The attractions of Herastrau Park are plenty. It is equipped with an open air theatre, nautics and sports clubs, exhibitions, cafes, clubs, restaurants and a hotel bearing the same name of Herastrau.
Although, the most interesting thing about the park would be something that tourists would discover just casually strolling around the park. There are over 50 statues scattered over the park, under four categories. Historic monuments like “Sleeping nymph”, “Hercules knocking down the centaur”, “The Column”, “Obelisk” and other, made of materials like stone, cast iron, steel, bronze and marble.
The most numerous statues are those of national and international personalities, such as: Ludwig van Beethoven, Constantin Brancusi, I. L. Caragiale, Frederic Chopin, Chales Darwin, Mihai Eminescu, Victor Hugo, Goethe, Shakespeare, Tolstoi, da Vinci and many, many others.
There are also some bronze statues depicting animals like deer, bear, turkey and goose.
Probably the most novelty statues are those of Romanian mythical personas, like Dochia, Toma Alimos, Miorita, Mesterul Manole and Fat-Frumos.
These statues are dispersed within an impressive vegetation of willow, poplar, lime, and maple trees. The park also displays the Expo Flora area, the Rose Island, the Poplar trees Island and a Japanese Garden, created in 1998, and sustained by the Japanese Embassy in Romania.
Whether it’s for sports activities, cultural activities, entertainment or even just strolling and sightseeing, the Herastrau Park of Bucharest will never endure abandonment. It is so big and beautiful that you cannot miss it!