The oldest public garden in the Romanian capital Bucharest, the Cismigiu Park is one of the city’s most accessible and popular sites. Listed as one of the city’s historical monuments, it is landscaped similar to English parks, with a varied vegetation and colorful flower beds.
The history of the park begins in 1779 when local ruler Alexandru Ipsilanti ordered the construction of two fountains in the city. (In Romanian a cismea is a type of fountain and a possible start for the formation of the name of the park.) The first one was built on the side of the park which today faces the Stirbei Voda Street, and nearby the Dura the Merchant’s lake could be found. It is the lake that later took on the Cismigiu name. The lake used to flood the city frequently and in 1830 the general Pavel Kiseleff ordered it to be drained and turn the land into a public garden. The works took place only in 1847 when landscaper Wilhelm Mayer, the former director of the Vienna Imperial Gardens was called to work on the project with the help of gardener Franz Harer. In 1852 the garden received its first surrounding fence and various other improvements. It was officially inaugurated in 1854.
The winter of 1883 saw the lake freeze and the first ice-skating contests organized here. The same year the park was further enlarged and the statues of Romanian writers were placed here as well as the other monuments or statues, among which the marble one remembering the French soldiers who fought in the World War I. Another distinctive place inside the gardens are the ruins of a monastery built by boyar Vacarescu in 1756, another reminder of the age of the place and its endurance through the years.