Bucharest – The Trolley Stop & Obor Market

The sprawling, atmospheric Obor Market, the largest produce market in Romania, and one of the oldest, dates back over 300 years. It is a convenient, short trolley ride from downtown Bucharest.

The day I decided to visit the market for the first time, I used my waiting time at the trolley stop to explore the nearby historic Apostle’s Church. This Orthodox church dates from the 16th century when it was part of a monastery. The cobblestone path on one side was filled with women lighting candles at the prayer niches which were perched on a stone wall. The lovely arched portico of the church drew me into the well-preserved, richly-painted interior. The old custom of having an open nave with no seats for parishioners enabled me to wander freely and admire the interior from all angles. The beautiful gilded screen which separated the nave from the sanctuary of the church was a highlight.

Off to the market….

Riding the trolley to Obor Market was an interesting experience. A local woman, seeing I was having difficulty figuring out how to validate my ticket at the machine provided on board, offered to help me. Mission accomplished. I gave her an appreciative smile. No language barrier there!

The low, two-story building which housed Obor Market was distinctive among the mid-rise communist era block buildings which lined the surrounding streets. Upon alighting from the trolley, I noticed other modes of transportation people used to get there, including the underground train and self-propelled scooters.

The massive Obor Market sprawled inside and outside.

At one entrance to the enclosed marketplace jewelry stalls, many of which were selling gold jewelry, flanked a huge currency exchange booth. Small shops and stalls selling non-food items fanned out in front of me as far as the eye could see.

In the food section of the marketplace, fruit and vegetables were piled high. Several stands of apples had bottles of juice displayed above the piles. The cost for a liter of this freshly squeezed juice was about US$.50. I purchased one and immediately drank some of the freshest apple juice I ever had. In the vicinity were wild berries and mushrooms from Romania’s mountains.  In addition there were teas, spices, honey, cheese, eggs, and meat products.

Several long lines of people at a huge machine along a wall caught my eye. I watched as people filled up their empty containers with fresh milk.

Just outside the enclosed market several racks of high-quality leather jackets were being offered for sale. Nearby a food stall was selling traditional Romanian fast food which included fries and sausages. The line was long, and the adjoining tented seating area was packed. The flower market, which was bursting with color and aroma, was beside a cascade of various red and green apples.

The Obor Market was an unforgettable feast of the senses. Etched in my memory forever is the man I saw counting his money in front of a historic photo of the market – knowing that this scene probably played out in real life thousands of times over the last 300 years.

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4 thoughts on “Bucharest – The Trolley Stop & Obor Market

  1. What a breath of fresh air, Merrilee, to read about Bucharest and its markets at a time when we are locked down and unable to travel! Unlike Sofia, which is an interesting but relatively small and compact city, it seems that Bucharest is far larger.

    1. Yes, I look back on my freedom of movement around the Obor Market (and Romania) recently before the virus affected our freedom of movement. I feel fortunate my timing was good to be a tourist in Romania.

      I just checked the population of the two cities you are comparing – Sofia, Bulgaria, and Bucharest, Romania. As of 2019 the population of Sofia was 1.24 million; Bucharest was 1.83 million. Interesting how close the population is of these two capital cities of neighboring Balkan countries.

      1. Thanks for that Merrilee, I didn’t realise the capitals of Romania and Bulgaria had similarly sized populations as Sofia always seemed to me to be so compact. Interesting that unlike many capitalist countries, where impoverished farmers made for the capital to initially live in slums and boost their livelihoods (or just to have greater opportunities), the Communist authorities in the former Soviet bloc restricted movement to the capital cities and boosted services in the rural areas.
        If we look at the Balkans, compare, for example, Athens, the capital of Greece (which today houses just under half the national population) with Tirana, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sophia, which have much smaller populations. Similarly, you have massive concentrations of population in large Turkish cities such as Istanbul; Turkey is also a capitalist country where opportunities appeared to be better in the bigger cities because the authorities opted not to provide services in the rural areas.
        It’s amazing what you can learn from reading your travel blog.
        Let’s hope we can get travelling again soon!

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