The DOORWAYS of Bucharest – Part 1 (the Little Paris type)

Little Paris type doorway, Gradina Icoanei area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

Little Paris type doorway, Gradina Icoanei area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

Traditionally, the mythical symbolism associated with a house doorway is second in importance only to its hearth, identified in spiritual imagery with an altar. As the entry point into this revered space, the doorway through its design, shape and ornamental patterns represents a condensed statement of the house’s soul, character and architectural style.

Architects attach great importance to the doorway design as a conveyor of those messages, a fact most obvious in the case of palaces or grand old houses. A beautifully preserved and presented doorway has also the potential to increase the real estate value of a period property. A telling example is the doorway shown in the picture on the left, which is an abstraction of the entrance of a Greco-Roman temple, with the house owner’s monogram displayed above the pediment. It belongs to a house in the Gradina Icoanei area built in a style, which I call “Little Paris”, influenced by France’s architecture of mid-19th century.

Bucharest has a large collection of period houses where the symbolism of their doorways is displayed in flamboyant designs and motifs. The majority of these houses were built in the course of two building booms: the first one took place between 1880s until WWI and the second during the interwar period. The architectural styles and implicitly the doorway typology of Bucharest’s period buildings can be grouped in three main categories: the Little Paris type (inspired from the urban architecture of France during the Second Empire/ Victorian period), Neo-Romanian (a very popular and fascinating local grass root architectural order based on Romanian traditional civil and religious architecture) and the inter-war international modernist type.  Continue reading