Rare Neo-Romanian Dolphin & Vines Decorative Panel

A rare Neo-Romanian style dolphin and vine decorative theme panels embellishing a late 1920s house in Cotroceni area of Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

The panels from the above montage depict an interesting and rarely encountered Neo-Romanian decorative theme of vine leaves and dolphins, a very peculiar juxtaposition for the Neo-Romanian architectural style, which has its decorative register inspired by and large from the late medieval Wallachian church panoply and Ottoman Balkan motifs like the grape vine, the peacock, the griffin, the three of life, intricate geometrical patterns, etc. These themes and motifs pertain to a landlocked civilization as was and is still the case with the ancestral Romanian communities and their environment centred in and around the alpine ranges of the Carpathian Mountains. Which is then the explanation for the unusual aquatic motif occurrence depicted in the above image? Romanians had only a recent unmitigated contact with the sea and the seafaring way of life, namely since 1878 following the Berlin treaty stipulations, when the country was granted the Black Sea maritime province of Dobrogea or Dobruja, a territory ardently disputed with Bulgaria. The province hosts within its confines the Danube Delta and one of the largest ports in the Black Sea basin, being also an important wine producer. The coat of arms of Dobrogea contains two dolphins and my hypothesis is that the first owner of this house was a native or strongly connected with that province on the Black Sea shore. The vine leaves together with the dolphins and the Greek type cross at the centre of the right hand panels (an allusion about the Christian Orthodox faith of the local Romanian population and also about the ancient Greek colonies established millennia ago in Dobrogea) constitute a fitting regional identity statement expressed within the context of the Neo-Romanian architectural style.

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I endeavor through this daily series of images and small articles to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural history and 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 sourcing 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.

Campulung-Arges: An Architectural Pot-Pourri

The historic architecture of Campulung-Arges and its environs, southern Romania (photos: Daniel Bobe, old PCs: private collection, montage: Valentin Mandache)

The city of Campulung in the county of Arges has been for a brief period in the c14th the first capital of the Principality of Wallachia, the core of modern Romania. The landscape setting of this urban centre and its satellite villages is one of outstanding natural beauty, in a valley within the Sub-Carpathian piedmont, dominated by the craggy peaks of the Transylvanian Alps. It is located on the old trade route between Wallachia and the Saxon towns of Transylvania, part of the important continental commercial road that linked in the Middle Ages central Europe to the markets of Constantinople and later those of the Ottoman Empire. The rich cultural traditions of the local communities and the propitious location for economic development have produced a beautiful historic architecture abundantly seen in that of the peasant houses, the well preserved old aristocratic villas or in the emblematic buildings that house local government authorities or industrial establishments. The architectural styles are diverse and range from specific ethnographic Romanian, Ottoman Balkan to c19th Alpine chalet, Art Nouveau, Neo-Romanian, Art Deco and even International Modernist. In an attempt to impart a glimpse from that amazing architectural heritage I have put together here a photomontage and a slide show of contemporary photographs and old postcards. The photographs were kindly supplied by Daniel Bobe, a Campulung citizen who has indeed very good reasons to be proud of his city’s 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 sourcing 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.

Semicircular Neo-Romanian Style Window from the 1920s

Neo-Romanian style semicircular window adorning a mid-1920s house in the Cotroceni area of Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

The semicircular shape of the Neo-Romanian style window depicted in the photograph above, together with its adorable wood frame carvings and multicoloured stained glass design, betray the Art Nouveau connections of this architectural order. The Neo-Romanian style is a national romantic artistic expression in architecture that emerged in this country at the end of c19th and resolutely conserved its Art Nouveau-like decorative register well after the dawn of this movement, as this mid-1920s window abundantly confirms that fact.

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I endeavor through this daily series of images and small articles to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural history and 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 sourcing 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.

Neo-Romanian Style Chimney Stacks

Neo-Romanian style chimney stacks adorning a mid-1920s house in Dorobanti area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

Most of the Neo-Romanian style houses and palaces were built before the gas central heating era and had to be provided with classic stove and fireplace installations designed for wood, or in rarer instances coal, burning. Therefore, the chimney stack is a very visible element within the edifice assembly and there are examples in Bucharest of spectacular chimneys designed in specific Neo-Romanian shapes. The photograph above shows three such house artefacts, which although are somehow more modest in size and decoration, nevertheless are very suggestive for the Neo-Romanian style applied for chimney design. The main architectural source of inspiration seems to be the old Ottoman kitchen chimney examples that between c17th and late c19th embellished the aristocratic houses and mansions of Bucharest and southern Romania.

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I endeavor through this daily series of images and small articles to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural history and 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 sourcing 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.

Tulip Theme Art Deco Balcony

An airy and well proportioned rectangular floral theme (tulips) Art Deco style balcony adorning a mid-1930s house in Cotroceni area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

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I endeavor through this daily series of images and small articles to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural history and 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 sourcing 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.

Neo-Romanian Ethnographic Verandas

Neo-Romanian ethnographic wooden verandas photomontage; examples dating mainly from 1920s, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

A main source of inspiration for the Neo-Romanian architectural style is the rich ethnographic art of the Romanian peasants. The geometric pattern wood carvings that adorn the peasant houses in the vast Romanian countryside are some of the most exquisite expressions of this art. The trend to include these decorative elements in the urban setting of the Neo-Romanian started in the early part of the inter-war period as a vivacious Arts and Crafts current inspired from the abundant local sources. It was promoted by many architects, such as the remarkable Henriette Delavrancea-Gibory. The six examples of verandas, which I selected for the photomontage presented here (see also the slide show bellow), is just a small sample from the multitude of such artefacts adorning the Neo-Romanian houses of Bucharest.

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

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

If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in sourcing 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.

Bucharest Public Clock from the Art Deco Era

The Foisorul de Foc public clock, a well known 1930s landmark among Bucharest's natives. (©Valentin Mandache)

The only original Art Deco era part still in place of this once remarkable piece of urban infrastructure is the concrete-made concave transversal triangular profile staff. The old 1930s clock, a square shape one, a genuine Art Deco style object, as I remember it from my childhood,  has long been discarded by the local authorities and replaced with an unattractive mass production electric example, considered “more beautiful” by the contemporary post-communist mentality population of the city.

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

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

If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in sourcing 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.

Neo-Romanian Style Street Fence

A attractive example of wrought iron Neo-Romanian style street fence dating from mid-1920s, provided with massive, bollard like, brick and concrete fence posts. Armeneasca area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The ironwork decorative outline of the basic street fence element, shown in the lower left hand side corner of the photomontage above, is formed by textbook Neo-Romanian motifs, inspired from the Byzantine and Ottoman church/ mosque decoration register. The shape of the massive fence posts resembles Ottoman cemetery tombstones. The street fence represents a major architectural component within the assembly of a Neo-Romanian style house, often made from high quality materials by the skilled craftsmen from the inter-war period, a fact which explains the high rate of survival over the ensuing tumultuous decades of many such fine examples in a quite unscathed state.

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

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

If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in sourcing 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.

Art Deco Window & Tree of Life Neo-Romanian Panel

Art Deco window & tree of life Neo-Romanian ornamental panel adorning a late 1920s house in Gara de Nord area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

The image above shows a telling example of Art Deco – Neo-Romanian syncretism of styles often encountered on the Romanian architectural scene in the period spanning between late 1920s and 1930s. The window openings and panes are designed in an Art Deco manner, while at its centre is a narrow Neo-Romanian style ornamental panel depicting a gracious tree of life symbol. This is a representation of the grapevine plant, a Neo-Romanian motif that originates in the late medieval Wallachian church decoration register. The tree of life rises up in leaf waves from a flower pot that resembles a traditional Romanian peasant pottery example, surmounted by birds flying in ascending spirals along its upright stem toward the Sun, the generator of life and energy, symbolised in this instance by a sunflower flower.

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

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

If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in sourcing 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.

Gingerbread Neo-Romanian Style

The 'gingerbread' variety of the Neo-Romanian architectural style: the veranda of a mid-1930s house in Dorobanti area of Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

One of the peculiar directions on which the Neo-Romanian style evolved during the two decades before its twilight in late 1940s was what I call the gingerbread Neo-Romanian. The multitude of varieties and directions on which this order developed during those creatively effervescent years ranged from anachronistic Art Nouveau to the perpendicular variety and interesting syncretisms with the Art Deco and Modernist styles. The gingerbread variety was basically a late offshoot of the Art Nouveau played out in the 1930s, well beyond its heydays, and catering for the somehow more frivolous tastes of the rich Romanians that got prosperous in the inter-war period from oil exports, commerce or industrial activities. What I call the fairy tale architecture, was also another such fanciful occurrence witnessed by the Bucharest of those years. The image above shows an eloquent example of gingerbread Neo-Romanian style, where the decorative details and architectural elements have a pronounced cookie-like appearance.The structure is a veranda of a grand house in the Dorobanti area of the city, crowning the top of its apparent citadel tower.

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

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

If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in sourcing 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.

An article in the Romanian press detailing my activity as a historic property consultant

The article in the Romanian national daily "Puterea" about my activity as a historic property consultant.

The Romanian national daily newspaper “Puterea”, which has recently been launched in Bucharest by the former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, has published an article-interview in its 17 May 2010 issue, where I speak about my activity as a historic property consultant specialised on the Romanian market. The journalist has correctly noted that I am the only expert in this market sector active in the country. The translation of the article’s title is “The new land grab – the demolition of Bucharest’s historic houses” (click the link to access the article- written in Romanian language); it is authored by Dana Fodor Mateescu.

I translated bellow a couple of paragraphs for your information:

“Valentin Mandache is an expert in historic houses, the only such specialist in the country offering consultancy services in the field of period property ( historical appraisal, market analysis, property finding, advice regarding the renovation and restoration of a historic property). He confirms the truth felt by many among Bucharest’s citizens: that a majority of this city’s historic properties are in a real danger of obliteration in the foreseeable future. [...] My activity epitomises a less common gathering of qualifications and work experiences for Romania’s professional landscape; it is a combination of skills pertaining to the fields of history of architecture and property market analysis, developed throughout 20 years of activity and specialist training in the United Kingdom, other European countries and the United States.

According to Valentin Mandache, the period property market is a very specialised market segment, mostly ignored or unprofessionally approached by virtually all Romanian property consultants. It requires a lengthy training and experience in the field of history of architecture, marketing and analysis focused on this more unusual market sector. [...] “When I encounter a historic house, I become extremely curious to find out details about its history and of the previous generations that had lived there” confesses Valentin Mandache. I just want to unravel in minute detail the intricacies of its venerable architecture and unearth the old mysteries that might be buried in documents, personal stories or the structure of that house. I believe that I am in a position to save a historic house when a client has a tangible benefit from my consultancy services, advising him or her how to buy that property, efficiently restore or renovate it, how to chose the best architectural details, decorative themes and conservation methods. I can also help that individual or organisation to properly market their property as an asset endowed with a distinct historic and architectural value. This is my contribution to the conservation and rescue of the cultural heritage of this country.”

“Puterea”, 17 May 2010

The Perpendicular Variety of the Neo-Romanian Style – Windows

A pair of mid-1930s Neo-Romanian windows rendered in the perpendicular variety of that architectural style. Dorobanti area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

The Neo-Romanian style has evolved into a series of different directions and varieties over a period spanning nearly six decades from its initiation in 1880s by the architect Ion Mincu until its twilight in late 1940s once the communist regime imposed a socialist modernist vision on the architectural scene of the country. What I call the perpendicular variety of this order is the angular rendering and an obvious propensity to array vertically the decorative and structural details of the customarily rounded/ arched, horizontally spanning, outlines of the Neo-Romanian decorative panoply inspired mainly from Byzantine, Ottoman and Romanian peasant motifs. Examples of buildings and architectural details rendered in perpendicular Neo-Romanian style are relatively rare. I managed to find an interesting such building in the Dorobanti area of Bucharest, from which I pictured above the wonderful pair of windows as a telling example. The perpendicular Neo-Romanian variety started to emerge in late 1920s, being the result of at least two important influences: on the one hand from the peculiar old Gothic elements present in the medieval Orthodox church architecture of Bucovina province, used by some architects in their Neo-Romanian designs and on the other hand because of the impact made by the angular and reduced to essence scheme of the Art Deco and International Modernist styles very popular in 1930s Bucharest.

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I endeavor through this daily series of images and small articles to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural history and 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 sourcing 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.

Art Deco Era House Numbers

House numbers dating from Bucharest's Art Deco era. (©Valentin Mandache)

The house numbers presented in the montage above adorn a series of Art Deco buildings in central areas of Bucharest and date from 1929 to late 1930s. I like the futuristic shape of the example positioned in the middle of the image. The house numbers through their interesting design and the sense of modernity that they manage to exude constitute veritable Art Deco statements in their own right.

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

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

If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in sourcing 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.

Bucharest 1903 Vernacular Exterior Decoration

Bucharest vernacular fin de siècle exterior decoration; Icoanei area. (©Valentin Mandache)

Fin de siècle Bucharest was in many aspects a patriarchal, at peace with itself place located at the triple periphery of the Ottoman, Russian and Austrian-Hungarian empires. Its architecture had a pronounced vernacular character borrowing motifs from both Western and Oriental traditions and imitating in a creative rusticated way the decorative registers of the few prestigious  private houses and public edifices designed by the handful of professional architects active then in the country. I found the example presented in the image above expressing wonderfully the vernacular architecture prevalent in fin de siècle Bucharest. It embellishes the expanse above the doorway of a wagon type house in Icoanei area and gathers together western inspired decorative motifs such as the pair of cornucopia with undulating ribbons flanking the monogram of the first house owner, rendered in a naive Art Nouveau type lettering, and also motifs inspired from Ottoman Balkan architecture such as the rope motif frieze and the intricately worked wooden supports of the roof eave placed at regular intervals. In all the impression conveyed is one of serene bucolic ambiance peculiar to a long bygone age in this corner of Europe.

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

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

If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in sourcing 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.

Rare Neo-Romanian Style Gazebo

A rare example of Neo-Romanian style gazebo pavilion, dating from late 1920s, once part of a wide verdant garden, within the grounds of a house in Calea Calarasi area of Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache).

The old central Bucharest is a compact urban space with not much land available for laying out private gardens or even ampler backyards. Many of the gardens that existed there in the c19th or early c20th were built over in the course of time or gradually reduced in size as the city developed and new buildings were erected. It is sometimes possible to find within the courtyard of some of the period houses remnants of the previous garden architecture and artefacts that once embellished long gone verdant plots. I have thus been very pleased to find the rare Neo-Romanian style gazebo pavilion pictured in the image above, well hidden at the bottom of a narrow courtyard in Calea Calarasi area. The structure has once stood within a larger landscaped plot, which has since been partitioned and built over. It is less known that the Neo-Romanian style was also adapted for garden architecture, although that direction of development was incomparably less prominent or represented than in building architecture. Some Neo-Romanian gardens were laid out within the grounds of the Romanian royal palaces such as the Scroviste Palace north of Bucharest or within some areas of the Cotroceni Palace gardens, etc. This gazebo with its hallmark Neo-Romanian elements represented by the short arches and Ottoman Balkan church inspired arches is thus an uncommon occurrence, which if restored or renovated would greatly add  to the quaintness and value of a Neo-Romanian style house.

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

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

If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in sourcing 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.