The Most Dangerous Places in Bucharest (to Stay Away From): Ferentari

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We have already talked about the fact that Romania is a safe country to be in or live in, but just like any country out there, there are areas that are more dangerous than others, and today we’re going to talk about such an area.

Since most of the people considering a move or visit to Romania have Bucharest on top of their list, that’s the city we’re going to talk about right now and a notoriously dangerous place to visit there, the Ferentari area. Actually, this is a neighborhood you should really stay away from, there’s not much to see here.

A notoriously dangerous place in Bucharest, the Ferentari ghetto seems to be from another world, even though it’s relatively close to Bucharest’s city center – just 5 kilometers away.

However, it’s still considered by the locals a neighborhood situated at the outskirts of the city and a place you should not visit. Not even the supermarkets have the courage to open a branch there: it’s just Kaufland that decided to risk it all and opened one store in the area this October (and nothing bad happened so far).

So… what’s about Ferentari that makes it so dangerous? Well, the population living there is extremely poor, the level of education is low and the drug usage is high. These are all the ingredients you need for violence, and there’s a lot of it there. Gangs, poverty, drugs, piles of garbage and violence… they are all part of the life there.

And judging from the photos below, the life is far from a perfect one:

ferentari bucharest dangerous place 01

ferentari bucharest dangerous place 02

ferentari bucharest dangerous place 03

ferentari bucharest dangerous place 04

ferentari bucharest dangerous place 05

ferentari bucharest dangerous place 06

ferentari bucharest dangerous place 07

ferentari bucharest dangerous place 08
Things have changed since this photo was taken, though!

Despite all these, don’t consider yourself a dead person if you absolutely find yourself in that area. Although considered Bucharest’s most dangerous (I also read recently a Huffington Post article that placed it in the top 4 most dangerous places in the world, after Bogota, and some neighborhoods in Russia and Bulgaria, but I can’t find the article!), the bad things usually start to happen after the sun sets. And also just some specific areas of the entire neighborhood are extremely dangerous, but it’s probably safe to just stay away from them all.

Romanians consider that the bad reputation that Ferentari has is caused by the huge Roma population living there (the gypsies), but I personally don’t want this article to go in that direction and start racial debates. The nationality of the people living there is Romanian, so that’s all that matters!

Together with Ferentari, there are two other neighborhoods that are considered dangerous in Bucharest: Pantelimon and Colentina, but to amuch lower degree. As a fun note, two of Romania’s best known hip hop bands are from the “ghettos” of Pantelimon and Colentina – and I have been in both neighborhoods and never worried about my safety (actually, I did worry, but I had no real reasons to, ha!).

In the end, if you plan to visit Bucharest or move there, the safest bet would be to stick to the center of the town and the surrounding areas. These are the ones that have the most to offer to tourists, anyway!

[photo sources: here and here]

18 COMMENTS

  1. Calin:
    This is a very informative post–as are all your posts. I think you are very wise not to disparage the poor Roma. Calling them “Romanians,” is very sensitive. Romania treats the Roma better than the Hungarians do, it seems.
    So much garbage littering the areas! Doesn’t Bucharest have a municipal garbage collection agency? It’s shocking that garbage is allowed to pile up like that! It’s a hotbed of disease and vector breeding. At the very least, the people living there should demand a regular garbage collection. Can’t the locals organize a pickup–someone could make some jobs for the people.
    I did note all the dish antennas. No matter where you are, people must have TV–ha! Sad to see the kids pointing toy pistols. (They probably got that idea from USA TV:-()
    Is there a police presence there? Are there NGOs which could help? I’m sure Romania has a lot of people, who if mobilized, could help with this situation.
    So what are the most common drugs abused? I know there’s a problem with “huffing.” I know meth is a drug abused in the States. For the life of me, I just can’t understand why anyone would start on such a downward spiral–especially knowing the dire consequences. I wish Bucharest would do public service ads or billboards warning people of the effects of drug abuse.
    Do you know what type of crime is the most common in these depressed areas? Are women most at risk of being beaten and raped? I imagine the weapons of choice for the men are knives. I just wish all humanity would just be able to get along and not hurt one another so much. (We just had another fatal gun shooting in Seattle–a 15 year old shot up his school wounding 4 and killing 2. All of it is so SENSELESS!)
    Maybe you’ll do a future article on your second city, Timisoara? Hopefully, there aren’t the severe ghettos there, as well.
    Thanks so much for this informative article. I will definitely give the afore mentioned areas of Bucharest a wide berth.
    ~Teil (USA)

    • Hello Teil,

      I can’t say that Roma people are treated better here than in Hungary – most people have a very poor opinion on them – and that’ me being gentle with words :)) I am also shocked with the amount of garbage piling up and even though there are normally garbage collecting units, they probably cant keep up or enter those areas. It’s not the entire Ferentari that looks like this, but these areas still exist nevertheless.

      From what I heard, heroin is the most abused drug there and this also spreads disease as sick people pass infected syringes around… there are NGOs that are starting to work in the area and hopefully they’ll be able to improve things over there. Certainly it’s not something that can be done overnight as many people there lack basic education.

      Regarding the crimes, even though I don’t have the data, I believe that robbery is on top of the list, followed by assault. More dangerous things (like murder) are still not a popular crime choice there, fortunately, while women are certainly easier targets. However, many don’t even go to the police stations to report abuse so it’s still pretty much a grey area.

      I have to do some research on Timisoara as I don’t know the city as well, but I am sure that nowhere else in Romania is anything similar to these bad areas of Ferentari.

  2. Oh, my, I clearly don’t wish to enter that area at all. You are indeed being gentle about the gypsies, but the issue is that most of them do cause trouble and are impossible to ‘civilize’, no matter how many efforts we make. I have dealt with good gypsies in my life, but they were few. The majority though …

  3. Hi:
    Would it not be nice if the “Roma” could assimilate themselves into society. Maybe if given a chance, they (and they NOT abusing that chance!) might become more welcomed into society.
    Are they given the same opportunities as others? I know they are living many countries, so this is a general question. I know they have a bad reputation (maybe in many cases justified), but aren’t they people with same hopes and dreams as the rest of us? Don’t they have some right to a basic education, a productive job, freedom of religion, a decent roof over their heads, and all the other things people–any people–should? If they are denied these things, that may explain a lot of their failings.
    Just, as we say here in the USA, my 2¢ worth;-)
    Great postings!
    ~Teil

    • In Romania, they have all those rights, Teil. But it’s traditions that carry on that prevent them from attending school. For example, they must marry at very young ages (thing 12-13), the woman must stay at home and take care of the childred – most of them are not sent to school by their parents and this is where all the bad things begin: they can’t get jobs if they lack the education, their traditions usually keep them inside the tight circles surrounded only by Roma people and it’s pretty difficult to break in. There are a few examples of Roma people who have made it big and our society is definitely open to treating them as equals. We have big name Roma politicians, one AAA singer in the country is highly successful and always talks about his origins and nobody minds… so there’s definitely a chance for improvement here.

  4. Hi Calin

    Hope you and the family are well. It’s been a while since I made comment here, but, I can give you first hand experience of living in Ferentari.

    As you know, I’m an Aussie who visited last year, to be with a Romanian lady and her son (I won’t use their names). I still keep in contact with them, as my feelings towards them has not changed. I care for them very much.

    While I was there, the 3 of us ended up living on the sort of OK end of Aleea Livezilor (yep, this is correct), and with your research Calin, you know where in Ferentari this is. We ended up there, because my lady friend, her son, and I were evicted from an apartment in Berceni, by unscrupulous and violent landlords (Iraqi Nationals).

    We ended up in a 1 bedroom apartment on the top floor of an apartment block at the intersection of Aleea Livezilor, and Strada Valtoarei.

    It is a very busy area during the day, and can be violent, as my lady friend’s son was ambushed by a gang of kids younger than himself, assaulted and robbed on the way back from one of the shops in Strada Valtoarei. By looking out the window, you can see the ones who are going to buy drugs, sell themselves, cause a general ruckus. It’s day in and day out. You also see the extremely poor people (whether or not they are Roma) wash in the drains in the streets, as they have no running water where they live. Also, I can’t go without making comment on the stray dogs. It is so sad to see this, and I know a lot of your readers, and those who have visited, would feel the same. I even ventured out an about the bad end of Aleea Livezilor, and got told not to, as it was a violent area. There were times I would go for a walk there, and got the feeling I was been observed, and that I was not welcome there.

    Like you said, it’s the night time that everyone comes out; to fight, to shout abuse, to solicit for prostitute, etc. Trying to sleep in the heat of early summer, with all the noise going on outside drove me up the wall for the first week or so, but I got used to it, just before I returned here.

    Around the corner, which I thought was the main street of the area we lived in (Prelungirea Ferentari), there is a Profi Supermarket, butchery, patisserie, bread shops, bank, amanet (Pawn Broker), take away food shops, car washes, etc. I would go for many walks around to this street, to see at least some normality.

    Amazingly though Calin, through all this poverty, this violence, this madness and angst, the people that I met on my walks were always friendly; from the council workers cleaning the streets, to the people in the shops. I would say Buna, or Salut, as a greeting, to which they replied the same.

    After all that, I am happy to say that my lady friend and her son have moved back to Berceni, to where they have been for 3 months now. Here’s hoping that they never have to be forced back to Ferentari.

    Thanks for your time reading this Calin. I hope this interests you and the readers.

    Bye for now. All the best to you and the family.

    • Wow, Shawn, I had no idea that you had experienced Romania the (potentially) rough way. I am happy to hear that nothing bad happened to any of you while you were there and I am sure that this paints a very clear picture of how things are there: you can feel the dangers lurking around, but normally if you just carry on doing your business and don’t go out sporting a golden Rolex and a Gucci bag, you’re probably be just fine. The violence is mostly between the people living there, the different gangs fighting against themselves… and then comes the night when alcohol and drugs turn everybody a bit more violent.

      But I am really glad that you shared your story here – it’s important for the world to see that even though things are pretty dangerous in Ferentari, it’s not really hell on earth there.

      • Hi Calin
        Thanks for replying. When I was there, I was told to always keep my wallet close to me, don’t stare at anyone, and to not get involved in any altercations. I can remember one day towards the end of my stay, there was a young boy and young girl, around 9 or 10, coming to blows on their way home from school. The girl won. The boy was kicked in the groin repeatedly and scratched up pretty bad. All he wanted to do was to punch her. He was most probably told to figjt like a man. She was told to fight lke her life depended on it. The point I make is that no one intervened to stop it. After all that, I would still return one day.

  5. Wow! You can really see the despair in these photos!!! There are some places like that at home too. Sometimes l wonder how the luck of the draw works. How is there such extremes? How does not get lucky and be born in a first world country, and one gets completely f****d and end up in a hopeless joy sucking environment ? These kinds of posts always remind me to be thankful. Thanks.

  6. I went to Ferentani today to see it with my own eyes and no doubt we all should consider us lucky that we don’t live there.
    It’s crazy how close this place is to the city centre with all the luxury you can imagine.
    Two completely different worlds are coliding here.

  7. Those are old photos of Ferentari!¨

    All the Ferentari quartier can be seen by Street View. It’s not even 10% as in the photos! Now it’s clean, it has dumpsters.

    Most of the buildings are still old and ugly and bad treated (although some ones are renovated and well painted) but at least the streets were made better and a lot of trees were planted, now it doesn’t differ from any normal ghetto in any Eastern European city, and it’s not among even the 10 worst ones! Look at Lunik IX in Kosice, Zagreb’s ghettos, Belgrade ghettos, Sofia ghettos, etc they’re about the same as in 1990.

  8. Hi Calin
    I hope Christmas and now today 1st January 2017 have been kind to you and your family. Long time since I made comment, and I think the last time I did so, I think I said it would be my last.
    It has been well over 3 and a half years since I came to Bucharest, and when I returned home. Things have changed for me.
    When I arrived in 2013, I was going through a mental meltdown, and I can honestly tell everyone that is what happened. I was going through alot of issues, and thought I could run away to the other side of the world to “start a new life with someone else”.
    The comments I made in October 2014 are true comments. I thought at the time I left my country, I needed to have a family, as my mind was telling me that I had no family, no love, no happiness.
    The woman I was with in Bucharest worked (and still could be working) on Adult Chat Sites. I got to know her towards the end of 2012, when my thoughts were starting to get bad. From there, my reality became clouded, and that is when in April 2013, I left my work and my life behind, and left for Bucharest.
    I think this woman from Bucharest took advantage of my mental and emotional condition at the time (November 2012 to May 2016).
    Just before the woman, her son, and I were evicted from the apartment in Berceni, the landlord’s daughter (who spoke really good English) told me that her mother said that “this woman is a bad person, and you should return home to your country”. It has taken a long time to take what she said on board. I now think that the woman I hooked up with was a “bad person”.
    I can’t see myself ever returning to Romania. If I do, it will be to sample the history, the beauty and the future of your lovely country. It will not be to find love and a new life again.
    Take care Calin. I hope 2017 will be a year filled with joy and happiness to you and your family. All the very best from your Aussie reader, Shawn.

    • Hello Shawn,

      It’s good to hear from you again and see that things are much better for you. It’s true – there are all sorts of people in this world, including those who can’t wait to take advantage of somebody and you were unlucky to draw the short stick. The good thing is that you managed to get past this and now things are much better.

      I am sure that if you come back to Romania in the future, you will finally be able to see it with different eyes and from a different perspective and enjoy it fully – maybe leave Bucharest behind since there are bad memories there anyway and try some of the other cities in the country. I wish you a happy new year!

      • Hi Calin
        Thank you for you reply. I haven’t been well, and I am still struggling a little. It is amazing what happens when you have a meltdown and your thoughts become irrational.
        I am sure that Romania is growing from strength to strength, and I hope one day, with government and the people, these extreme ghettos can be fixed, so that the generations that come after us have a better future.
        Bless you Calin, your family and your readers.
        Shawn

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