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.