In the wetlands on the edge of Bucharest stands a large nature reserve surrounded by a thick concrete perimeter wall. Văcărești Natural Park stands on land that was once of the city’s neighborhoods. During the period of communist rule in Romania, the land was claimed for government use—part of President Nicolae Ceaușescu’s ambitious plan to build hydrological infrastructure that would eventually connect Bucharest to the river Danube.
A reservoir was planned for Văcărești, which would be filled with water from the Argeș River. As such, a concrete dam was built to surround the lake. The few modest houses located in this area were bought by the state and demolished. The plans for development were abandoned during the Romanian Revolution in 1989. The area was slowly overtaken by nature.
In 2013, scientists from the Romanian Academy surveyed the wildlife in the abandoned reservoir, and found a diverse ecosystem filled with hundreds of species of plants and animals. They began working to establish the land as a park and protected nature reserve.
Văcărești Natural Park is the first urban natural park in Romania, only five kilometers away from the city center. It’s also the largest green space in Bucharest, covering 183 hectares. The park has a huge variety of birds, with at least 138 species, some rare species of plants, and mammals like foxes, weasels, and even otters.
Know Before You Go
There are multiple ways to enter. No fee! The address is that of the observation tower, for which you need a reservation.