At the beginning of May (12-16) the coolest event happened in Bucharest, Experience Bucharest. (Yes, it was cool because I took part. ) I wrote about it here. And because of it, I managed to wake up on a Sunday morning and discover the wonderful, unknown and mysterious place of Văcărești Lake.
Being a true Romanian (Bucharest is my hometown), I had no idea about this place. It happens (a lot) to me (and others), to know more about places from abroad than from my home country. I feel embarrassed whenever my foreign friends ask me about a place in Romania and I have to tell them I haven’t been there. (And then they make fun of me… haha)
So, if you want to find out more about this weird, unexpected place, which everyone left untouched for years… here is the story.
What is Văcărești Lake?
Văcărești Lake is an artificial lake, which has been abandoned for the past 20 years and the entire place is now an 189 acres delta, right in the heart of the Romanian capital, Bucharest.
The lake was meant to be a part Dâmbovița river and to be used against flooding. The project started in 1986 and stopped in 1989 when the revolution happened. It is, till today, one of the major communist projects left unfinished. That is more than a quarter of a century ago.
Văcărești Lake was filled with water from Dâmbovița river just once. The costs of such an operation are too big, hence they ceased using this solution. Another option is to use gravity to bring water from Argeș river, which is 27 km from Bucharest. Half of the canal was built, but the other half seems to be forgotten.
The underground springs supply the delta with water, leading to a diverse and unique vegetation and fauna within the city. Approximately 95 species of birds can be found here, living in a stable ecosystem.
This is the ecosystem of a delta.
During spring and autumn, this is an important place for numerous migrating species.
Also, the rangers from this natural park have to deal with pouch hunters. They are after the singing birds from this area, which are protected by law.
Who takes care of Văcărești Lake?
In 2014, many otters from a protected species have been photographed, which leads to the conclusion of a healthy ecosystem.
The Natural Park is a home for many birds such as herons, egrets, cormorants, seagulls, swans, coots, wild ducks, the black fly. Many aquatic animals like water snakes and newts can be found, but also foxes, rabbits, otters and muskrats.
At the beginning of 2015, the Văcărești Natural Parc Association was founded. The area has officially been declared a natural park at 11 Mai 2016, becoming the first urban natural park in Romania and the first protected natural area from Bucharest.
At the 17th floor of one of those buildings (from Asmita Gardens residential complex) is the observatory deck, from which I took the below photo.
Văcărești Pit is a unique place in Europe. This “Valley of Crying”, as it was called before the development of the city, was the city’s landfill, for hundreds of years. All the waste of the “little Paris” was dumped here.
This was the home of the poor, trying to survive with whatever they could find in the immense land of garbage. It used to be within the human crematorium, the slaughterhouse and the dog pound triangle. Over this gloomy landscape, the bells of Bellu Graveyard ring, one of the city’s most known cemetery.
The piers are now the only thing reminding about the communist plans to build here an artificial lake. Nowadays it’s covered with undergrowth and the metal parts are stolen piece by piece.
The lake cannot be used for buildings, as they intended because the bottom of it is a swamp.
It is a hidden gem right in the city, where you can go for a walk, take lots of photos for your Instagram, ride your bike, or just escape from the busy city life. It’s literally across the street from civilisation (and the metro). And it’s free!
Book your tour at http://bucharest.walkaboutfreetours.com/