Daily Picture 30-Nov-09: Vampire Like Mascaron

A bizarre vampire like mascaron (notice the wings and coffin shape of the panel) at the centre of a balcony bottom decorated with French inspired c19th eclectic architectural ornamentation; 1880-90s building located in Patriarchy area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

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I endeavor through this daily image series to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural heritage.

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If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in locating the property, specialist research, planning permissions, restoration project management, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this weblog.

Daily Picture 29-Nov-09: Rural Style Balcony

Rural style balcony, Armeneasca area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The balcony is adorned with interesting ethnographic wood carved motifs typical of the ancestral peasant art of southern Romania and painted in blue, a colour of traditional shamanistic significance among the Slavic and Romanian peasant communities in this part of Europe. The balcony adorns a Neo-Romanian style town house in central Bucharest.

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I endeavor through this daily image series to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural heritage.

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If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in locating the property, specialist research, planning permissions, restoration project management, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this weblog.

Daily Picture 28-Nov-09: Art Deco Rule of Three Ornaments

Art Deco façade ornaments grouped according to the rule of three percepts, central Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The rule of three that sees decorative elements repeating in groups of three throughout a building façade is commonly employed in Art Deco architecture and visual arts. It is inspired from ancient Egyptian art, in vogue during the roaring 1920s (see for example the huge cultural impact made in that period by the discovery of King Tut’s tomb), an important source for the Art Deco movement. The image above is an excellent example of Art Deco façade ornaments grouped according to the rule of three, boasted by a beautiful, but badly maintained building (owners replaced the original windows with cheap plastic frame double gazing ones) in central Bucharest. That is unfortunately the case with most historic houses in Romania’s capital suffering the consequences of an insensitive rapacious property development boom, which has at last started to unravel.

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I endeavor through this daily image series to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural heritage.

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If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in locating the property, specialist research, planning permissions, restoration project management, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this weblog.

Wallachian Country Mansion – Conac

Mixture of architectural styles, with an emphasis on the Neo-Romanian order, in a grand 1910s country mansion from the Romanian province of Wallachia (©Valentin Mandache)

Romania has vast swathes of farming land, which were developed on a large scale starting with mid c19th once the Danube and the straits Bosphorus and Dardanelles waterways were freed from Ottoman control, allowing massive grain exports from the region to the industrial centres of Victorian Europe (see my article describing a Victorian barn from southern Romania built as part of that economic transformation). The local aristocrats and land owners administered their farms from impressive country mansions, called “conac” in Romanian, a word of Turkish origin (see a more extensive article about a typical such mansion: the Casota conac). The conacs were built in a variety of styles, according to the money available and the fashion of the period from French fin de siècle to Neo-Romanian and Art Deco. The interesting example in the image above boasts mainly a Neo-Romanian architecture, typical of 1910s with some French echoes, especially in the roof shape and ornaments. During the communist regime these mansions were confiscated and transformed in collective farm headquarters. Many were badly damaged, especially in the last 20 years of regime change in Romania, characterised by imperfect property legislation concerning the returning of property to the rightful owners. Some conacs are now on the market, but due to the huge property bubble of the last few years in Romania and immature market mentality of local property owners, have inflated, unrealistic prices, in many instances several times more expensive than c18th French châteaux or similar period mansions from Italy.

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I endeavor through this daily image series to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural heritage.

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If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in locating the property, specialist research, planning permissions, restoration project management, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contactpage of this weblog.

Daily Picture 26-Nov-09: Historic Houses Photo Collage

Historic houses of Romania collage (©Valentin Mandache)

I composed the image above from 60 selected photographs taken during my fieldwork this year, mostly in Bucharest, but also Iasi (NE Romania) and Sinaia (the Transylvanian Alps). In my opinion the collage is extremely suggestive of the exuberant historic architecture found within the territory of Romania: a peculiar crossroad of Western, especially French, and Central European influences blended together on a Balkan background with old Ottoman echoes. I hope the pot-pourri of houses, decorations and ornaments, often painted in garish colours, would give you a more wholesome image of the vast field represented by Romania’s historic architecture. I also use a version of this collage for my Twitter page background, have a look here: http://twitter.com/historo

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I endeavor through this daily image series to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural heritage.

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If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in locating the property, specialist research, planning permissions, restoration project management, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this weblog.

Daily Picture 25-Nov-09: Dilapidated Art Nouveau Window

Exquisite end c19th window, Art Nouveau style recycling local Ottoman motifs, from a dilapidated, nearly ruined historic house, Lascar area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

The house is in a zone abounding in unoccupied modern low-quality office blocks, some of them half-built and abandoned, that replaced countless other historic houses during the rapacious Romanian property development boom/bubble of the last few years.

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I endeavor through this daily image series to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural heritage.

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If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in locating the property, specialist research, planning permissions, restoration project management, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this weblog.

Daily Picture 24-Nov-09: Art Deco Frieze

An excellently preserved Art Deco frieze on an early 1930s building in Lipscani area of Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

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I endeavor through this daily image series to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural heritage.

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If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in locating the property, specialist research, planning permissions, restoration project management, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this weblog.

Daily Picture 23-Nov-09: Peasant Style Wooden Gateway

A rare example of peasant style saw work wooden gateway (in the fashion of the southern Romanian peasant wooden churches) to the courtyard of a 1920s Neo-Romanian house in Catargiu area of Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

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I endeavor through this daily image series to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural heritage.

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If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in locating the property, specialist research, planning permissions, restoration project management, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this weblog.

Daily Picture 22-Nov-09: Traditional Bulgarian Style Veranda

Veranda of a late 1920s house in Aviatorilor area of Bucharest inspired from traditional Bulgarian architecture. (©Valentin Mandache)

The traditional Bulgarian architectural style (a term by which I mean a traditional Bulgarian architectural framework on which are also grafted Greek, Turkish, and other Balkan motifs), was popular in the whole region of the northern Balkans during the times when these lands were part of the Ottoman empire until the 2nd half of c19th. Wallachia, the southern province of Romania, where Bucharest is located, was influenced by this type of architecture, especially in its market towns, where traders from all over the Ottoman Balkans met to exchange goods. Many of them got established in the Wallachian towns and built mansions in this style familiar throughout the region. With the onset of modernisation on European lines in late c19th Romania, this style was identified as belonging to the Ottoman past and consciously replaced by West European looking ‘Little Paris’ style buildings (what I call the Romanian provincial imitations of French architectural styles of that period) and by the emergent patriotic Neo-Romanian style (which itself borrows heavily from old Balkan architecture). Just a handful of traditional Bulgarian and Ottoman style buildings survive in modern Bucharest. The one presented in the photograph above is a rare inter-war rendering of that  style and gives a glimpse of how Bucharest used to look more than one and a half centuries ago, during the times of the Ottoman dominion.

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I endeavor through this daily image series to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural heritage.

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If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in locating the property, specialist research, planning permissions, restoration project management, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this weblog.

Daily Picture 21-Nov-09: Art Deco Street Corner Residential Building

An interesting street corner Art Deco style residential building dating from late 1930s, with a peculiar balcony on top of its decorative staircase tower and a well preserved street fence; Cotroceni area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

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I endeavor through this daily image series to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural heritage.

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If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in locating the property, specialist research, planning permissions, restoration project management, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this weblog.

Daily Picture 20-Nov-09: ‘Little Paris’ Style House Renovation

A rare recent example of a better Bucharest period property renovation project (there are still on display the ugly air conditioning units, the clumsy addition of an uncomfortable low ceiling 1st floor or the replacement of the old and expensive to restore wrought iron street fence with a cheaper characterless mock period one). The house is a turn of the c20th 'Little Paris' style building (Romania provincially interpreted French c19th architectural styles), ASE area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

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I endeavor through this daily image series to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural heritage.

***********************************************

If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in locating the property, specialist research, planning permissions, restoration project management, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this weblog.

Daily Picture 19-Nov-09: Peacock Motif Neo-Romanian Style Window

Peacock motif Neo-Romanian style window, late 1920s house in Eroilor area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The medieval peacock decorative motif, inspired from biblical stories, was used with predilection in both early medieval Byzantine and western Romanesque ecclesiastical architecture. The Eastern Christian lands of the Balkans that come under the rule of the Ottoman empire continued to use this type of decoration until modern times. That was more evident in the architecture of church and monastery assemblies from the area of the former principalities of Wallachia and Moldova, the core of modern Romania, which benefited from a higher degree of freedom and religious expression derived from their status as Ottoman protectorates at the frontier of the Sultan’s Caliphate with the enemy empires of Austria and Russia. The modern Neo-Romanian architectural style has borrowed the peacock motif in its decoration register, embodied in exquisitely beautiful houses built especially in the time interval between the end of the Great War and early 1930s. The window in the photograph above is just one such example, where the pair of peacocks on the pediment are presented feeding from a grape among grape leaves and vines, signifying the biblical Garden of Eden, and its modern correspondent in the abundance of that plant and wine industry in modern Romania. That message of plenty and luxuriant vegetation is also wonderfully emphasized in this photograph by the tree branches from the rich garden surrounding this Neo-Romanian style house.

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I endeavor through this daily image series to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural heritage.

***********************************************

If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in locating the property, specialist research, planning permissions, restoration project management, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this weblog.

Daily Picture 18-Nov-09: Art Deco Block of Flats

Mid- 1930s Art Deco style with modernist overtones block of flats in an un-renovated state (actually it has hardly been touched or mended since the end of WWII) as is the situation with most of the period buildings of Bucharest; Mantuleasa area. (©Valentin Mandache)

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I endeavor through this daily image series to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural heritage.

***********************************************

If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in locating the property, specialist research, planning permissions, restoration project management, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this weblog.

Daily Picture 17-Nov-09: Neo-Romanian Style Glazed Balcony

A rare and exquisite example of glazed balcony from an early 1930s Neo-Romanian style house in Cotroceni area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

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I endeavor through this daily image series to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural heritage.

***********************************************

If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in locating the property, specialist research, planning permissions, restoration project management, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this weblog.

Daily Picture 16-Nov-09: Unusual Mascaron

Guard dog balcony base mascaron, Bucharest

Unusual type mascaron (guard dogs theme) at the base of a first floor balcony belonging to a house of composite allegorical styles, mid 1930s, Icoanei area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

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I endeavor through this daily image series to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural heritage.

***********************************************

If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in locating the property, specialist research, planning permissions, restoration project management, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this weblog.