Piaţa Revoluţiei (Square of Revolution), a large, irregularly shaped square sliced down the middle by Calea Victoriei, was created in the 1930s to ensure a protective field of fire around the Royal Palace in the event of revolution. While Romania’s monarchy was overthrown by other means, the square fulfilled its destiny in 1989, when the Ceauşescus were forced to flee by crowds besieging Communist Party headquarters; two days of fighting left the buildings around the square burnt out or pockmarked with bullet holes – with the conspicuous exception of the Central Committee building, which was at the centre of the storm.
Across the road from the Royal Palace, you can’t fail to notice the 13m-high statue of King Carol I on horseback, erected as recently as 2010, though not without controversy. The original statue, by renowned Croatian sculptor Ivan MeŠtrovíc, was melted down by the communists in 1948 following the abolition of the monarchy (conveniently, the bronze was reused to make a statue of Lenin), though this current edition is widely regarded as far inferior to MeŠtrovíc’s, in part because the authorities failed to reach agreement with the MeŠtrovíc family over the use of the sculptor’s original sketches. Behind the statue is the University Library, totally gutted in December 1989 – with the loss of some half a million books – but now rebuilt and housing offices. Piaţa Enescu sits just to the north of Piaţa Revoluţiei, and is notable for a couple of historically and culturally important buildings.