The uncommon history of the Bucharest “Delta”, and the former monastery of Vacaresti
The Vacaresti lake is a man-made lake, within the city of Bucharest, close to the east periphery. It was supposed to be a part of the hydrological protection system, in case of flood: it was meant to hold the water of the Dambovita river in case the latter swelled and overflowed. The works for this lake started in 1986, and the Monastery of Vacaresti as well as the houses of around 100 people were seized by the regime and had to be demolished to make way for this huge basin. The monastery was one of the best prized monuments of Bucharest. It had been used for some time as a prison for political prisoners and intellectuals during the communist regime: Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, the leader of the Legionary movement was imprisoned here, and this is where he saw the painting of the Archangel Michael, whom he chose as the protector of his movement ( The Legion of the Archangel Michael). Also, several very well-known Romanian writers were imprisoned here: Ioan Slavici, Liviu Rebreanu, Tudor Arghezi. The great architect G. Cantacuzino called the monastery “the greatest church in the orthodox world”.
Nevertheless, and despite endless complaints, letters and international pleadings, Ceausescu decided to go on with the infamous plan. When the revolution of 1989 started, the basin was still not finished and after the revolution, the works were stopped. This is why it is an unfinished project, abandoned, and it is now a flourishing man-made delta.
Some people wanted to invest in this place; one American even proposed a well-structured plan to build some hotels, casinos, and a horse racetrack, but the project was suspended because of the unclear situation of the lands within the Vacaresti lake. Many of the former owners sued the state for their piece of land. So this project, too, was abandoned, and the “Bucharestians” have now a place in their city that is wild, interesting and clea(ner) than the rest of the parks in the capital.
There are lakes here where you can fish – free of charge, you can suntan and swim in the lake, if you have the guts, you can go have a picnic there. The “delta” has water from 20 underground springs and in the 20 years since the construction there stopped, many wild animals appeared: seagulls, swans, ducks, storks, turtles, snakes, foxes and beavers. The Romanian National Geographic, no. 109, of May 2012, mentions and publishes pictures from this place at page 41. In 2012 it was declared a protected natural site, since they identified over 90 species of rare birds living in this place. The place cannot be used for building anything right now anyways, since the bottom of the place is a swamp.
It is easy to get to: bus no 123 from the Unirii Square to the end of the line. It takes around 20 minutes to get there.