Saturday, December 17, 2011

Down by the Riverside

"Gonna lay down my burden/Down by the riverside/Down by the riverside/Down by the riverside......
I ain't goin' study war no more".

I was humming the melody of the above famous black gospel as I approached the Dambovita River which crosses the heart of Bucharest city (it goes from north-west to south-east along a distance of 22 Km). I stopped the humming when I reached the spot. How on earth does one get down by the river? it's all cement around here.

Dambovita river at Unirii Square

The legend has it that the city of Bucuresti (Bucharest) was named after the shepherd Bucur that lived on the banks of the river . Dambovita was the name of his fiancee, the daughter of a poor forest man, who had rejected the marriage proposal of a prince because of her love and loyalty for the shepherd . How very romantic!

The river, however, didn't seem romantic to me. Perhaps the cloudy day was to blame for that: the sky and water looked grey and gloomy. I contemplated it from the bridge (The river has sixteen[16!]) bridges). It flows through a cement canal built to prevent flooding. All the river's natural turns have been canalized throughout the years.

There's no navigation on the river, no boat tours. Despite pollution, the locals jump into its cool water during the hot days of summer; many of them even practice fishing. Last month, by the way, a catfish of 40 Kg and 1.5 m long, was captured in the Dambovita by some amateur fishermen. It was quite a sensation.

Trash in the water

There are guided walking tours covering the part of the river that crosses the center of Bucharest. The tour starts in the city center at Unirii Square and ends at the Opera Square. It lasts about 2 hours and 30 minutes. The tourists are shown buildings which either face the river or are close to the river, buildings that have played and still play an important role in the locals' life such as: Manuc's Inn, The Palace of Justice, House of the People (the Parliament), The Opera House, and many other landmarks.

The Palace of Justice

The above palace has six statues near the entrance, allegoricaly symbolizing:
Law, Truth, Strength, Justice, Righteousness, Prudence.


  1. I guess it isn't surprising that the river has been canalized, but I think it's too bad. Rivers have such a wonderful influence on people which is greater when they have green areas along side. Well, that's my opinion, anyhow!

    I am enjoying the tour of Bucharest!

  2. this place, Bucharest, also has a special character. the channelized river may be a nice idea. in kerala, people of 'kuttanad', the area where most of the paddy fields are situated, welcome the floods. it is a natural way to get the paddy fields more fertile. the remnants of the last crops are decayed and dissolved into the soil.

    twisting the nature too much may not be good. but the river looked cleaner than our rivers. but it is always more beautiful to have plants and weeds floating... they help the ecosystem also...

  3. I agree, it is a gloomy scenery. That was an interesting legend though. I love legends :-)

    Nice post, as always, Duta.


  4. That river did look a bit sad for itself, Duta, but I suppose they have had to tame it so that it does not do damage in flood times. Our river is not tamed at all although has to be coaxed into staying straight enough to go under the little roadbridge at the edge of our property. Otherwise it is free to roam. I think I like our river best!

  5. I agree that cement structures take away romantic elements. That's the price one pays for modernization - nevertheless the legend of the poor shepherd Bucur & his lover Dambovita did evoke magical romance.

  6. Dimple,

    I agree with your opinion; rivers with green ares alongside are much more attractive and beneficial to human beings.


    The people of Kerala probably know best what is good for them. Floods bring fertility to the surrounding fields and thus enable more and better crops.

    Hold my hand..(Doris),

    Maybe , in summer with the sun reflecting in its waters , the river looks nicer. Anyway, the legend of Bucur and his fiancee is always there to brighten it up a bit.


    'tame' that's the word. The river had to be 'tamed' as it flows through an urban, densely populated area, and the very center of the capital city. Floods could be dangerous.

    r. Ramakrishnan,

    Cement is part of the urban reality. The legend softens this harsh reality making it more acceptable to people.

  7. I'm not sure that I would like to meet a catfish that size ... maybe another reason for staying out of the river in the high summer heat :-)

  8. Romantic rivers need banks and trees and turns, not cement walls and floors. Ugh romance replaced by cement. I would have to be having a heat stroke before I would jump into that river. The Palace of Justice is my favorite photo, too bad you did not get close ups of the statues. Peace

  9. I loved the history of this post. You do such a great job Duta but I have to say it reminded me of the song, "Pave Paradise and Put Up a Parking Lot."

    The River's paradise has been paved. {{{SIGH}}}

    God bless and have yourself a marvelous day sweetie!!! :o)

  10. I would love to see people frolicking in that river - I have a hard time imaginging that, but it would sure be fun to see. Love the story, ad love the post, Duta.

  11. J_on_tour @jayspaze,

    The catfish was caught last month, in November, but it's not great pleasure for a swimmer to encounter such a huge fish at any season.

    Lady Di Tn,

    Indeed; a river should flow naturally surrounded by nature, not by cement.
    As for the Palace of Justice _ you're right again. A good picture should have displayed close ups of the statues.


    "The river's paradise has been paved". True and sad. I would like to believe there was no other option here.


    Haven't seen this myself, but I was told about swimmers in the river during the hot days of summer.
    Thanks for liking my post.

  12. Twisting the nature everywhere... so sad sometimes...

  13. Beautiful post. We have that by the river where I live... so much development and so little nature. But slowly, the nature is coming back. I so want to travel in Europe more, but until then, I enjoy your posts.

    Thank you.

  14. Hi Duta,

    Ironic that in order to preserve the river all the beauty has be taken out of it. I'm sure at one time it was a magnificent river with twists and turns filled with life and beauty.

    Again, a wonderful touching blog post.

  15. Phivos Ncolaides,

    Even God is sad about it. Probably that's why He sends all those tzunamis and earthquaqes - as a sign of warning against Man's doings.


    Welcome to my little blog!
    The struggle between Development and Nature is global, and there's no absolute winner in this.

    I'm sure you'll get the chance to visit Europe someday.


    You presume correctly. Dambovita was once a mighty river, but it unfortunately had to be 'tamed'.

  16. Duta, I'm glad to see you're traveling and posting again after a brief respite. Hope you're enjoying a festive and fun Hanukkah. My computer crashed last month and I seem to have lost your email address, so I'm sending you this holiday wish as a comment. Have a wonderful new year.


  17. I am humming that song now:) Pretty river and seeing your adventures

  18. I have never seen anything like this river. I think the Palace of Justice is a beautiful building. Thanks for the tour!

  19. Hi Duta you been travelling. Very nice place. And great post!

    Have a wonderful Holidays!
    Merry Christmas!★
    ★ Regina

  20. TallTchr,

    Sorry about your computer crash.
    Thanks for the holiday & New Year Wish.


    Things that happen in our lives always remind us of some song. "Down by the riverside" is a famous, all-time spiritual.


    I believe you. A river is supposed to flow naturally not the way this one does. The Palace of Justice, like the other buildings in this area, is beautiful.


    Welcome back! Hope all's well with you and family. Thanks for the comment.Merry Christmas!

  21. Duta, it's quite sad to see the river with cement all around it!

    I found your post very interesting though and thank you for sharing.
    Always do enjoy my visits here.
    have not been around blogland much lately.

    The Palace of Justice is a beautiful building.

    Take care and Happy Hanukkak and best wishes for the new year!

  22. Welcome! I've missed your posts.
    Thanks for visiting and for the kind Wishes.

  23. La Multi Ani! Stii eu aveam o vecina in RO care o chema tot Luminita si era nascuta tot pe 28 Dec.

  24. We have the great Kern County River crossing right in the middle of Bakersfield. I drive over it everyday. Earlier this year when my daughter and I did one of our charitable dog runs we got to walk right on the bank of the river and it was so beautiful and so peaceful but we were trying to get the run done on time so we couldn't dilly-dally. I thought to myself that I would come back on a weekend and just take the walk slowly and take lots of photos to share but I haven't yet. Maybe I will add that to my to-do list for 2012.

    I think with the grey buildings, the grey sky and the grey concrete wall the poor river had no choice but to look sad. The building are beautiful though.

  25. How beautiful. I love traveling virtually through blogs like yours.
    Cheers from Cottage Country!

  26. Lumi Ro,

    Ah, deci e pe 28. Merci de rectificare. La mine e pe 27.
    In tot cazul, iti uresc un sincer La Multi Ani, Luminita!


    Yes, you should do this - add the stroll on the river bank to your to do list in 2012. Such a stroll will do you only good.

    Jennifer A. Jilks,

    Cheers Jennifer!
    I'm glad you like virtual travelling. It encourages real travelling.

  27. sevgi,

    Thanks for stopping by. Happy New Year to you too!


    Thank you. I wish you too a Happy New Year and more of your amazing photos in your superb photoblog!

  28. Duta,

    Haven't heard from you in a while and wanted you to know I'm thinking of you. Do hope the holidays went well for you. Come back soon, you are missed.

  29. I love the realness in your photos and the way you brought us there. Yeah, not everything is what we expect, is it, yet it can still be appreciated in its new form.

    Happy New Year! In honor of my blog's first anniversary, I have an award for you on my site. Stop by to share the magic. Hugs.

  30. C Hummel Kornell a/k/a C Hummel Wilson,

    Thank you for your warm words. I've been very busy lately; I'm coming back.

    Tanya Reimer,

    Thanks. I'm off to your blog now.

  31. What a great post Duta. It intrigues me the architecture and the stories and legends of all the buildings and surroundings. It is so interesting! Thank you so much for sharing. Hope you have a wonderful New Year!
    until next time... nel

  32. I agree with everyone above, the Legend sounds very nice & quite romantic...

    But the dirt in the river is a no-go, how can people swim & fish in that 'soup'? :S

    P.S.: Once again, a happy new Year to you! *hugs*

  33. Nel,

    Thank you, Nel.
    I have to agree with you. Indeed, the things mentioned in your comment are quite intriguing and interesting.
    Happy New Year!

    Pink Panthress,

    Good to hear from you again!
    Yes, the dirt in the river...
    You ask the right questions, but sadly, I don't have the answers.
    Happy New Year!

  34. Very interesting Duta. I think it looks rather gloomy and grey, all that concrete, but that is the city life.
    I really enjoy the architecture though.

  35. Happy New Year my dear friend Duta, with a good health, happiness and many travels!
    Very ince photos and interesting reportage!
    Many greetings

  36. Man is destroying our world.
    I am afraid, that when the computers go the doctors will be in a stupor. I won't get on the soap box now. Looks like a very interesting city. You cracked me up with that song.

  37. Jennifer D,

    Urban life demands a heavy price.
    Glad you enjoyed the architecture.


    Thanks for the kind Wishes.
    Blessings and Happy New Year to you too,dear Magda!

    La Petite Gallery,

    I agree with you. I usually say it in these words: Man has violated the world order as created by God.

    I believe that the increasing frequency of earthquakes, tzunamis, volcano eruptions, floods, fires - are God's punishment for Man's destroying of the world.