Chelsea fans’ guide to Steaua Bucharest
Posted on 27th September 2013
While our International Ground Guide is undergoing some maintenance, we thought we’d provide our usual service of advice and information for travelling supporters in brief blog form.
Once up and running again our ground guide will cover all manner of information from travel options to hotel advice, eating and drinking suggestions to practical tips on getting around, along with safety and security advice and anything else we think will be of use to travelling supporters.
In the meantime, while the below might not necessarily have all the information you’ll be after if you’re heading out to Romania this week, we’re always available to help – just drop us an email if you have any questions.
We’ll do our best to find out what you need to know, either from our own vast experience in covering England and Wales games abroad, or from our friends at Football Supporters Europe.
Where to start with Steaua Bucharest? They’re Romania’s most famous and most successful side, having won a record 24 domestic titles alongside becoming the first team from Eastern Europe to win the European Cup, beating Barcelona in the 1986 final. They reached another final in 1989, losing out to AC Milan.
Originally set up as the club of the Romanian Army, they are easily the biggest club side in the country, although their stadium holds only just over 28,000. Their list of former players reads like something of a who’s who of Romanian footballers – comfortably the best (in our opinion) being Gheorghe Hagi.
Steaua have moved from their old home to the new Arena Nationala, a 55,000 all-seater Uefa Grade 4 Stadium which played host to the 2012 Europa League final. It is located a couple of miles east of the main city centre, just north of Bulevardul Basarabia, in the Lia Manoliu National Sports Complex.
As you would expect from a new build stadium all seats are covered, and the sightlines are excellent (which is more than can be said for the club’s former home at the Steaua Stadium), and the facilities are top notch.
Known for a long time as ‘little Paris’, Bucharest has undergone (and is still undergoing) major renovations and improvements to its public spaces. It’s still not unusual to see old Communist buildings alongside new, modern structures, and while the city still has a certain amount of charm there is something of the air of a half-built city to it in certain quarters.
One thing worth noting before heading out to Romania is that it is ahead of continental Europe and is 2 hours ahead of GMT, rather than 1.
Also (as our humble guide compiler found out to his cost), don’t trust the tap water in the city. Even in the nicer hotels, it still has to pass through the city’s old pipes. Bottled water is widely available in shops and kiosks and costs very little. It’s well worth the investment!
Main Tourist Sights
The main point of reference in Bucharest has to be the Parliament Palace (formerly the People’s Palace), which was built by former leader Nicolae Ceaucescu in 1984. For those fact-fans amongst you, it’s the second largest building in the world, and vast swathes of the city had to be flattened (or ‘reconstructed’) to make room for it.
Nowadays it’s a big tourist attraction, with regular tours running throughout the day.
Just down the road from the Palace is Piata Unirii (Union Square), one of the main meeting points in the city. Just to the north of this is the main old town, where you’ll find some of the best preserved Communist era buildings and main churches and museums.
Otherwise nearby you’ll also find Piata Revolutiei (Revolution Square), the site of the 1989 uprising. A monument in the centre commemorates those who lost their lives during the revolution.
Eating and Drinking
There’s no real main drinking and nightlife street in Bucharest, so you’ll have to do some searching to find what you want. There’s a great variety of nightlife on offer, from pubs and clubs to jazz bars and a lively gay scene. There are a good number of bars and pubs in the area around the central Piata Unirii metro station, however, which we’ve concentrated on below.