Patriarchal Bucharest “Little Paris” Style Corner House

An example of patriarchal Bucharest "Little Paris" style street corner house dating from the 1890s; Armeneasca area. (©Valentin Mandache)

The “Little Paris” architecture was very popular in Bucharest during the last decades of the c19th until the advent of the Great War, being part of the first building boom experienced by the city and Romania in general. The style represents a picturesque symbiosis of provincially interpreted French c19th historicist architectural orders and a multitude of local Ottoman Balkan decorative elements and traditional construction methods. The emergence of this type of architecture was part of the powerful westernisation drive of the country after gaining full independence from the Ottoman Empire (formalised by the 1878 Treaty of Berlin that concluded the Russian-Turkish war). This was a nationwide building programme financed especially by revenues from the large grain production that Romania, as an independent state, was able to export to the western markets. Today the “Little Paris” style houses of Bucharest represent some of the most specific examples of indigenous urban architecture, being also relatively easy and not prohibitively expensive to restore/ renovate. Unfortunately, these houses, being perceived by many locals as archaic and outdated, are also among of the easiest victims of rapacious property “developers” or ignorant owners who deface them through botched renovation/”modernisation” works. The example in the image above shows a enchantingly picturesque street corner example of a “Little Paris” style house. I like its patriarchal setting, simplicity and the juxtaposition of historicist ornaments (the base of plaster garland rectangles) with the decorative Ottoman broken arches that embellish the windows and the small roof eave pilasters.

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I endeavor through this daily series of daily articles 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 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.

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