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Vacaresti, Bucharest

Vacaresti, Bucharest

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Văcăreşti is a neighbourhood in south-eastern Bucharest
Bucharest
Bucharest is the capital municipality, cultural, industrial, and financial centre of Romania. It is the largest city in Romania, located in the southeast of the country, at , and lies on the banks of the Dâmbovița River....

, located near Dâmboviţa River
Dâmbovita River
Dâmbovița is a river in Romania. It has its sources in the Făgăraş Mountains, on the Curmătura Oticu. The upper reach of the rivers, upstream of the confluence with the Boarcăşu River is also known as Izvorul Oticului River or Oticu River....

 and the Văcăreşti Lake. Nearby neighbourhoods include Vitan
Vitan
Vitan is a neighborhood in southeastern Bucharest, Romania, along the Dâmboviţa River, located between Titan, Dristor, Centrul Civic, Olteniţei and Berceni....

, Olteniţei
Oltenitei
Olteniţei is a quarter in Bucharest's Sector 4....

 and Berceni
Berceni, Bucharest
Berceni is a district of southern Bucharest.-Location:Geographically, it has a trapezoidal shape, bordered by Oltenitei Road and Turnu Magurele Street in the north and south, respectively. Built during the 1960s, it is a typical Communist-era working class district, lacking any major green spaces...

. Originally a village, it was included in Bucharest as it expanded. Its name is related to the Wallachian aristocratic family of the 'Văcăreşti', with an etymology leading back to the Romanian văcar, "cow-herder" and the suffix -eşti.

The Monastery and quarter



The Văcăreşti Monastery, built by Nicholas Mavrocordatos
Nicholas Mavrocordatos
Nicholas Mavrocordatos was a Greek member of the Mavrocordatos family, Grand Dragoman to the Divan , and consequently the first Phanariote Hospodar of the Danubian Principalities - Prince of Moldavia, and Prince of Wallachia...

 in 1716, was located on the Văcăreşti hill, nowadays near Piaţa Sudului, but it was demolished in 1984 during the regime of Nicolae Ceauşescu
Nicolae Ceausescu
Nicolae Ceaușescu was a Romanian Communist politician. He was General Secretary of the Romanian Communist Party from 1965 to 1989, and as such was the country's second and last Communist leader...

, to make room for a Palace of Justice that was never built. It was the largest 18th century monastery in Southeastern Europe and it had a church in the style of Curtea de Argeş Cathedral
Curtea de Arges Cathedral
The Cathedral of Curtea de Argeș is a church in Curtea de Argeș, Romania, located in the grounds of a monastery. It is dedicated to Saint Nicholas....

. It was designed to be also used as a fortress, being seized by the Russian army
Military history of Imperial Russia
The Military history of the Russian Empire encompasses the history of armed conflict in which the Empire participated. This history stretches from its creation in 1721 by Peter the Great, until the Russian Revolution , which led to the establishment of the Soviet Union...

, under commander Nicholas Repnin
Nicholas Repnin
Prince Nikolai Vasilyevich Repnin was an Imperial Russian statesman and general from the Repnin princely family who played a key role in the dissolution of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.- Rule of Poland :...

, in May 1771 (in the context of the Russo-Turkish War and Pârvu Cantacuzino
Pârvu Cantacuzino
Pârvu or Pîrvu Cantacuzino was a high-ranking Wallachian boyar, ban of Oltenia, and anti-Ottoman rebellion leader who also briefly served as an officer in Russia's Imperial Army during the Russo-Turkish War of 1768-1774...

's rebellion).

Part of the buildings of monastery were used as prison. Inmates that were incarcerated at Văcăreşti Prison include Richard Wurmbrand
Richard Wurmbrand
Richard Wurmbrand was a Romanian Christian minister of Jewish descent. He was a youth during a time of anti-Semitic activity in Romania, but it was later, after becoming a believer in Jesus Christ as Messiah, and daring to publicly say that Communism and Christianity were not compatible, that he...

, Tudor Arghezi
Tudor Arghezi
Tudor Arghezi was a Romanian writer, best known for his contribution to poetry and children's literature. Born Ion N. Theodorescu in Bucharest , he explained that his pen name was related to Argesis, the Latin name for the Argeş River.-Early life:Along with Mihai Eminescu, Mateiu Caragiale, and...

, Ioan Slavici
Ioan Slavici
Ioan Slavici was a Transylvanian-born Romanian writer and journalist. He made his debut in Convorbiri literare , with the comedy Fata de birău...

, as well as Corneliu Zelea Codreanu
Corneliu Zelea Codreanu
Corneliu Zelea Codreanu was a Romanian politician of the far right, the founder and charismatic leader of the Iron Guard or The Legion of the Archangel Michael , an ultra-nationalist and violently antisemitic organization active throughout most of the interwar period...

 and other members of the Iron Guard
Iron Guard
The Iron Guard is the name most commonly given to a far-right movement and political party in Romania in the period from 1927 into the early part of World War II. The Iron Guard was ultra-nationalist, fascist, anti-communist, and promoted the Orthodox Christian faith...

. The nearby hill was home to Arghezi's long-time residence, the house he nicknamed Mărţişor
Martisor
Mărțișor is a traditional celebration of the beginning of spring, on March 1. It is a tradition in Romania, Moldova, and all territories inhabited by Romanians and Aromanians...

(nowadays a museum).

Jewish history



In the 19th century, many Jewish immigrants settled in Văcăreşti, most of them coming from Imperial Russia. Văcăreşti and Dudeşti
Dudesti, Bucharest
Dudeşti is a neighbourhood in south-eastern Bucharest, along the Calea Dudeşti. Nearby neighbourhoods include Vitan, Văcăreşti and Dristor....

 were the areas where the poorest Jews settled. On 21 January 1941, the fascist
Fascism
Fascism is a radical authoritarian nationalist political ideology. Fascists seek to rejuvenate their nation based on commitment to the national community as an organic entity, in which individuals are bound together in national identity by suprapersonal connections of ancestry, culture, and blood...

 Iron Guard started its coup
Legionnaires' Rebellion and Bucharest Pogrom
The Legionnaires' rebellion and the Bucharest pogrom occurred in Bucharest, Romania, between 21 and 23 January 1941.As the privileges of the Iron Guard were being cut off by Conducător Ion Antonescu, members of the Iron Guard, also known as the Legionnaires, revolted...

 against Ion Antonescu
Ion Antonescu
Ion Victor Antonescu was a Romanian soldier, authoritarian politician and convicted war criminal. The Prime Minister and Conducător during most of World War II, he presided over two successive wartime dictatorships...

, with whom they had shared government power since September (see Legionnaires' Rebellion and Bucharest Pogrom
Legionnaires' Rebellion and Bucharest Pogrom
The Legionnaires' rebellion and the Bucharest pogrom occurred in Bucharest, Romania, between 21 and 23 January 1941.As the privileges of the Iron Guard were being cut off by Conducător Ion Antonescu, members of the Iron Guard, also known as the Legionnaires, revolted...

). The Iron Guard legionnaires killed 125 Jews, including in Văcăreşti and Dudeşti. On 24 January 1941 Ion Antonescu
Ion Antonescu
Ion Victor Antonescu was a Romanian soldier, authoritarian politician and convicted war criminal. The Prime Minister and Conducător during most of World War II, he presided over two successive wartime dictatorships...

 suppressed the rebellion and the Iron Guard was banned and the members arrested.

Almost all the Jews emigrated to the newly-created state of Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 after World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. Văcăreşti was one of the quarters that was completely torn down by Ceauşescu and nowadays few traces of the old quarters remain.

Văcăreşti Lake


In the 1980s, Ceauşescu wanted to build a large amusement park
Amusement park
thumb|Cinderella Castle in [[Magic Kingdom]], [[Disney World]]Amusement and theme parks are terms for a group of entertainment attractions and rides and other events in a location for the enjoyment of large numbers of people...

 (3 km²), demolishing a large part of the houses in the area and making place for a lake with a concrete bottom. However, it was never completed and it still remains barren as of 2009.

In 2002, 1.83 km² of the terrain were given for 49 years to a company owned by Australian citizen Tony Mikhael that wanted to invest €650 million and build some residential areas as well as a golf course
Golf course
A golf course comprises a series of holes, each consisting of a teeing ground, fairway, rough and other hazards, and a green with a flagstick and cup, all designed for the game of golf. A standard round of golf consists of playing 18 holes, thus most golf courses have this number of holes...

, a hippodrome
Hippodrome
A hippodrome was a Greek stadium for horse racing and chariot racing. The name is derived from the Greek words "hippos and "dromos"...

, a hotel and some clubs. The terrain itself is estimated to worth about €500 million, as the land costs in the area around €300/m². Săptămâna Financiară argued that the concession of the terrain was illegal and that the Romanian state only gets around €0.28/m².

Further reading

  • Gheorghe Leahu. Demolarea Mânăstirii Văcăreşti ("Demolition of the Văcăreşti Monastery"), (1997) Bucureşti, Arta Grafică
  • Anania, Lidia; Luminea, Cecilia; Melinte, Livia; Prosan, Ana-Nina; Stoica, Lucia; and Ionescu-Ghinea, Neculai, Bisericile osândite de Ceauşescu. Bucureşti 1977–1989 (1995). Editura Anastasia, Bucharest, ISBN 9739714544. In Romanian. Title means "Churches doomed by Ceauşescu". p. 171–186 is about the Văcăreşti Monastery, including extensive photographs and architectural drawings.