Updated: Jan 3, 2020
If you want to spend some quality time inside of a cool building in Bucharest, Cărturești is the place to go. This complex word that rhymes with București (Bucharest in Romanian) describes a wonderful universe filled with books, tea, music and trimmings. If you ever get to visit Bucharest, don't miss out on them. It's worth adding such a stop on your "must-see" list, simply because this place holds the power to charm you with its looks and seduce you with the creative content and cozy feeling.
The story of this famous local brand started in year 2000 with a small shop in the center of Bucharest. The concept was to create a space where readers should be able to do more than just buy a book, they should hang around a bit longer, read comfortably and enjoy a cup of good tea (creative hint in the logo). They kept the concept up to this very day. Today, they are present in many cities all around the country, but in Bucharest they are the proud owners of two magical shops: Verona and Carusel, both very central, in the heart of the city.
Verona and Carusel both have the wow-factor included, in fact they should be considered museums, since both are located in historical monuments. Wandering through Bucharest without exploring at least one of them, would be an unfortunate mistake. It's actually quite easy to stumble upon them anyway, since they are both "hidden" in plain sight. Randomly walking through the center of Bucharest can bring you in front of one of them, and it would be sad not to have the inspiration nor the curiosity to open their doors. Apart from the wonderful items you'll find on their shelves, breath in the charming atmosphere of the 19 century vibes that these buildings have preserved.
To get a better picture of it, check out the 2 galleries below, one dedicated to Carturesti Verona, the other to Carturesti Carusel.
Address: Arthur Verona street 13-15
Address: Lipscani Street 55
What a funny name “Verona” for a bookshop in the middle of Bucharest. If you thought it was connected in any way with Italy, you were wrong. Double check the address and everything makes sense. Arthur Verona was a Romanian painter that had a successful career back in the 19th century. Luckily for his immortal reputation, his name was given to this cool street in Bucharest. The cool factor being enhanced by the colourful murals along the street, which popped-up thanks to the street-art festival Street Delivery, that takes place here every summer. So walking around Arthur Verona is just a cool bonus for the street-art lovers who are curious to check out this bookshop.
Carusel has a different story, the name is a metaphor for the carousel of light created by the building's atrium. Even though it is located on the most popular street of the Old Town, it got named in a more playful manner. Lipscani street is the core of the center, the main pedestrian street in the city. You will find many restaurants, bars and shops around there, and it might be easy to just walk past it. It's one of the lucky buildings that got restored, just look up and admire, it's easy to spot less fortunate examples around.
Both buildings were constructed back in the 19 century and have survived a difficult past, due to the communist history of Romania. They belonged to wealthy families, and because of it they were seized by the communist regime. The families struggled to get them back after the revolution. Carturesti Verona initially belonged to a prime minister of the country, named Dimitrie Sturdza, while Carusel was owned by a family of banquers, Chrissoveloni family. You can still feel those vibes today, noticing details that show that Verona used to be a private residence with several rooms and a huge attic, while Carusel looks more like a former bank.
So, if you ever find yourself wandering through the center of Bucharest, not knowing where to head to, or if you're searching for nice gifts or cool things souvenirs, just know that a stop inside one of these libraries will totally solve your dilemmas!
5 main things you shouldn't miss if get inside one of the bookshops:
Architectural details of the 19th century buildings
Corner of Romanian designers / souvenirs
Free seats to read on the spot
Tea / coffee shops (extra summer garden @Verona and Atrium Bistro inside of Carusel)
Free and totally funny book signs with nice design and inspirational messages - in Romanian :)