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There are two levels to the history of Bucharest; the mythological level which is supported by local tradition and the scientific level which is repeated in history books. At the mythological level, it is believed that the city was originally founded by a peasant shepherd named Bucur. Local traditions celebrate the history of Bucur, whose name translates to “joy”. However, scientists and historians believe that the city was first established by Mircea the Elder, a leader who conquered the area in the fourteenth century.
Whichever of these early beginnings is true, the factual history of Bucharest from the middle of the fifteen century on is well-known. At that time, the area was used as a summer royal court by Vlad the Impaler. Approximately one hundred and fifty years later, the area was attacked by the Turks and destroyed but was rapidly rebuilt and continued to grow. By the seventeenth century, it was an important trading center in the area. The Turks continued to make attempts to overtake the area throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries but were always mostly unsuccessful.
In 1859 Bucharest becomes the capital of Romania (united provinces of Moldova and Muntenia at that time). The late nineteenth century and early twentieth century represent a period of great development of the city in terms of architecture, utilities and cultural establishments. Bucharest University, Grand Hotel du Boulevard, the Botanical Garden, the Atheneum, Casa Capsa (restaurant and one of the first coffee shops in Europe) and many other date back to this period.
The strong French influence of the time on the Romanian politics, social and cultural environment also puts a mark on the development of the city. Bucharest was then known as "little Paris" - an indication of its struggle to resemble the "city of lights" as well as a recognition of its remarkable progress.
The mid and late twentieth century history of Bucharest is comprised primarily of issues associated with Communist leadership in the area, followed by subsequent overthrow of the Communist regime and resulting revitalization of the area. Nowadays, the city is a mixture of oriental and French (Western) influences, communist style buildings and today's modern business and commercial centres and glass buildings.
The area has been increasing in safety and growing in stability since the '90s. Travelers interested in reading more about Bucharest should take a look at http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g29... . Travelers interested in exploring that history during their stay in Bucharest should explore the museums of the area ( http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g29... ).