Bucharest’s new urban nature park is a 450-acre twist of fate
Best known for being home to a mishmash of alternately stunning and soul-crushing architecture and a sizable population of stray dogs, the Romanian capital city of Bucharest — most certainly not to be confused with Budapest — is the sixth largest city in the European Union, more populous than Vienna but a touch smaller than Paris — a city, in a previous era, to which it was so often compared.
For a city of such considerable size (a little under 2 million residents in the city proper), Bucharest comes equipped with a fair amount of public green space — it’s certainly not the greenest city in Europe but residents and visitors do enjoy access to several top-notch parks: Herăstrău Park, Tineretului Park, Carol Park, Kiseleff Park, Titan Park and, last but not least, the majestic Cișmigiu Gardens.
Bucharest’s newest and largest public green space, Văcărești Nature Park is a bit of an anomaly as far as city parks go. A just-designated nature park, Văcărești Nature Park is wild, untamed, messy.
More akin to a protected nature reserve than a manicured urban park, Văcărești, one of the largest urban green spaces in all of Europe at 183 hectares (452 acres), Văcărești is something of a happy accident. All it took was a violent political revolution, the execution of a ruthless communist dictator, a string of failed redevelopment projects and a couple decades of human indifference to get there.
In other words, Văcărești Nature Park wasn’t supposed to be.
It was born a mistake. Described by CityMetric as a “massive hole” in the middle of a dense city, the sprawling wetlands — it’s also referred to as the Bucharest Delta — is a resounding example of what happens when Mother Nature is left to her own devices.
Enjoy an aerial view of Vacaresti park from a drone here: