Fin de Siècle house in Targoviste

A beautiful Fin de Siècle house in Targoviste, southern Romania photographed in a late July 2010 afternoon against a stormy sky. (©Valentin Mandache)

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I endeavor through this series of daily 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.

Balkan Monarchs, September 2010 (via Diana Mandache’s Weblog)

This is a post first published on Diana’s blog on royal history. The first photo shows the actual four Balkan monarchs together at a royal event in Serbia this month. The photograph is evocative of the better times of stability enjoyed by this region during the reign of their predecessors, in contrast with the endemic volatility of the last seven decades of republican rule. For Romania, the monarchy has been the most beneficial form of government in this land’s history, a period of organic modernisation and integration with the advanced economies and cultures of Europe. Most of the historic architecture of the region has been developed during the reign of the Balkan monarchs. There is a second photograph in this post taken one century ago, showing the ancestors of the present kings, also gathered together, thus emphasizing even more the continuity, consistency and relevance of the royal era for this region of Europe.

Balkan Monarchs, September 2010 This a rare historical image, the most recent gathering of the Balkan Monarchs, photograph taken on the occasion of the silver wedding anniversary of Crown Prince of Serbia. In the image l to r: King Simeon of Bulgaria, Crown Prince Alexander of Serbia, King Michael of Romani … Read More

via Diana Mandache’s Weblog

Art Deco Floral Motifs for Birthday Celebration

Art Deco floral panels, 1930s Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

My wife, Diana, celebrates today her birthday! To mark this beautiful event, I composed a photomontage and slide show of Art Deco style floral panels, which I photographed throughout the year in Bucharest. These exquisite designs adorn façades of houses dating from the 1930s, a truly golden and happy era for this city. The panels are renderings of luxuriant flowers and vegetation symbolising the paradisiac Southern Seas to which the inter-war Bucharesters, inhabitants of Europe’s austere the lower Danube prairie, where longing to travel and experience, especially during the long Siberia like winters that often engulf this region. I would like to dedicate these charming architectural ‘slices of paradise’ to Diana and wish her a very, very happy birthday!!! Valentin :)

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Art Deco floral panels, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

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I endeavor through this series of daily 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.

2010-09-30

Listen online to the radio interview given by the “Historic Houses of Romania”

Dear blog readers,

For those of you who speak or understand Romanian, the interview which I gave to Radio Romania, the Famous Signatures programme, produced by Mrs Denise Theodoru, and broadcast last Saturday 25 Sep ’10, can now be listened online on the website of the Romanian national radio; for access click here or on the image bellow.

With best regards,

Valentin Mandache, the author of the Historic Houses of Romania blog

Radio Romania Actualitati

Neo-Romanian style wall lamps: incense burner shape

Neo-Romanian style exterior wall lamps adorning the edifice (dating from early 1920s) of the former Marmorosch Blank Bank in central Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

These two exquisite lamps adorn the façade of the former Marmorosch Blank Bank headquarters in the Lipscani area of Bucharest. The bank has been one of the main financial institutions of inter-war Romania. It became, trough its mortgage and other type of loan lending to the population and businesses, one of the engines behind the inter-war Bucharest building boom, which saw the emergence of the Neo-Romanian and Art Deco architectural style skyline of the city. The bank headquarters were erected between 1915 – 1923, with a break during the Great War, after a design by the architect Petre Antonescu, one of the most seminal Romanian architects. The building incorporates elements inspired from late medieval Romanian church architecture originating in both Wallachia and Moldova. The Moldovan elements are discernible in the Gothic patterns and ornaments as can be seen in the photograph above in the dress of the window opening. I like the more unusual shape of the wall lamps, which is a rendering of the chain held incense burner used by priests performing Christian ceremonies, perfectly in tone with the overall church inspired architecture and decoration of the building.

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I endeavor through this series of daily 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 windows frames with Romanian ethnographic carvings

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One of delightful aspects of the Art Deco architectural style in Bucharest is its assimilation and recycling of indigenous decorative motifs, resulting in surprising adaptations of this decorative order to the local cultural environment. I found that fact nicely reflected in the window frames, which adorn Bucharest houses built in the mid-1930s, shown in the above slide show. The frames are carved with Romanian ethnographic motifs, typical of the peasant art of rural Romania, representing examples of the creative artistic fusions that give a strong local flavour to an international architectural order.

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I endeavor through this series of daily 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.

“Historic Houses of Romania” interview on Radio Romania, tomorrow at 21.06 (GMT+3)

Dear readers,

I would like invite you tomorrow, Saturday 25 September ’10 at 21.06 h (GMT+3, ie London summer hour + 2h), to listen to an interview which I gave at the invitation of Mrs Denise Theodoru, senior editor at Radio Romania Actualitati, the national radio broadcasting station in this country, within the programme entitled “Famous Signatures, which can be listened obline at the link just mentioned or for those of you based in Romania on the radio frequency 105,3 FM. The interview is in the Romanian language and takes about one hour. The recording was conducted walking up and down leafy streets in a corner of Bucharest that still preserves its picturesque inter-war mix of Art Deco and Neo-Romanian architectural styles and urban ambient. I expounded there actual issues facing the historic houses of Bucharest and Romania and made considerations about the local market for period properties of which I am the only specialist consultant in this country. I also spoke about my professional training as a historian at the London School of Economics and activity in the United Kingdom in fields related to the study and market of historic houses.

With best regards,

Valentin Mandache, author of the “Historic Houses of Romania” blog

The webpage from Radio Romania Actualitati announcing the interview

Rare Arabic Votive Inscription on Romanian Church Doorway

Arabic votive inscription on Romanian church doorway, dating from 1747, Old St Spiridon Church, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

Most of what is now Romania has been for centuries a part of the Ottoman Empire. The principalities of Wallachia and Moldova, and also at a later date Transylvania, where the only autonomous Christian protectorates of this empire, governed by Christian princes, where permanent places of Muslim worship or settlement where not allowed, following special c15th autonomy treaties with the Porte. For about one hundred years, from the beginning of the c18th, Wallachia and Moldova where governed by princes from the great Istanbul Greek families, loyal subjects of the sultan, who lived in the Phanar quarter of the great city, hence the generic name of their rule in the Danubian principalities as the Phanariot regime. They opened this peripheral region, previously dominated by the Hungarian and Polish kingdoms, to the culture and economy of the rest of the realm of the Padishah. Bucharest thus became a city where one could encounter traders from as far as Damascus, as well as Tripoli or Cairo. Also representatives of diverse Christian sects and denominations from throughout the Ottoman Empire found in this city a welcoming home. One of them was the Patriarch Sylvester of Antioch, in Syria, a mainly Arabic speaking church, who resided in Bucharest during the fifth decade of the c18th, a period of bitter struggles within this church that led to its split into an Orthodox and a Greek Catholic branch, in communion with Rome. Prince Constantine Mavrocordatos, the ruler of Wallachia and a member of the the very prominent Ottoman Greek family of Mavrocordatos from Istanbul, that had a crucial role in the Greek Enlightenment, granted, in 1747, to the Patriarch of Antioch and his suite of Arabiac speaking monks, the Bucharest church of “Saint Spiridon of Trimutinda” (known today as “The Old St Spiridon Church“) and other revenue making properties in the city. The photomontage above and the slide show bellow the text show the impressive doorway of this church, decorated with a votive inscription in Romanian (rendered in Cyrillic characters), Greek and Arabic languages, containing Prince Constantine Mavrocordatos’ solemn statement granting the church to the Patriarch Sylvester of Antioch and his congregation. The Arabic text is a rarity for Bucharest and Romania in general, where Muslims, in conformity with the special Christian protectorate status of Wallachia and Moldova within the Ottoman realm, where not allowed to build places of worship. By contrast, Arabic speaking Christians, were responsible for one of the such rare old inscriptions of Bucharest. The votive inscription also contains a medallion with the symbols of Wallachia (an eagle) and Moldova (an auroch head) together, denoting the fact that Constantine Mavrocordatos was appointed by the Sultan to rule at one time or another in both principalities. I very much like the particular design of this doorway, a beautiful mingling of Ottoman Islamic and Byzantine shapes, that became the hallmark of the Romanian church architecture of the c18th and the c19th, from where the architect Ion Mincu, the initiator of the Neo-Romanian style has found a rich source of inspiration. This inscription is a witness of an epoch when this land was part of a great empire that stretched from Budapest to Mecca, and how fashions and styles from far away lands blend and enrich each other, resulting in processes that can take centuries in new vitalist artistic expressions.

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I endeavor through this series of daily 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.

Minimalist Art Deco Style Doorway

A late 1930s Art Deco style doorway for an apartment block in the Mantuleasa area of Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

The design is characterised by a minimalist modernist decoration of lines arranged in rectangular patterns, with just one ‘flamboyant’ element in the form of a stylised sunburst among clouds, placed at centre of the composition.

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I endeavor through this series of daily 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.

‘Always Imperial’: new article by Diana Mandache in ‘Majesty’ magazine (UK)- royalromania blog

Marie Alexandrovna, Grand Duchess of Russia, Duchess of Edinburgh and of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (1853-1920) has been the mother of Queen Marie of Romania and great-grandmother of HM King Michael of Romania. This article, by Diana, just published in the UK based magazine “Majesty”, reviews her life through excerpts from her well written correspondence kept at the Romanian archives.

'Always Imperial': my new article in Majesty magazine To commemorate the 90th anniversary of the death of Marie Alexandrovna, Grand Duchess of Russia, Duchess of Edinburgh and of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Majesty magazine has just published my article ‘Always Imperial’ in their October 2010 issue. Other articles on royal history contained within this issue: ‘Frankly speaking’ (Prince Francis of Teck) by Adrian Woodhouse, ‘On His Majesty’s Service’ (Duke and Duchess of Windsor) by Robert Prentice. see for m … Read More

via Diana Mandache’s Weblog

Identical Neo-Romanian style houses in Bucharest city square

Recently I visited an interesting Bucharest square with identical model houses mirroring each other across the sides of that square, presented in the video above. This location was brought to my attention some time ago by Mr. Romulus Bena, a regular reader and commenter (on the Facebook page) of my articles. The architecture is Neo-Romanian with some Art Deco echoes. This set up is a rare occurrence in the inter-war Romanian urban planning. A few months ago I wrote about another similar urban set up from Campulung-Arges in southern Romania, click here for access. Bellow is an aerial view with the Bucharest city square documented in the video.

Neo-Romanian style houses in Brazil Street square, Bucharest; aerial view.

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I endeavor through this series of daily 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 street number

Street number dating from mid 1930s affixed on the wall of an Art Deco style house from the Dorobanti area of Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

This is a good quality example of architectural lettering from the Art Deco era, still bravely surviving on the wall of a quite run down Bucharest house. I like how the designer combined reduced to essence shapes like squares and semicircles to create that beautiful Art Deco style artefact. A few months ago I published on this blog a photomontage of another few examples of Art Deco street numbers encountered on Bucharest’s houses that can be accessed by clicking here.

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I endeavor through this series of daily 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.

Queen Anne of Romania: 87th Birthday Anniversary

Queen Anne w. King Michael of Romania, Crown Princess Margarita

A very Happy Birthday to HM Queen Anne of Romania, 18 September 2010!

This post was initially been published on Diana Mandache’s blog on royal history.

I would like to extend my well wishes to Queen Anne for her birthday anniversary! Most of the heritage architecture of Bucharest and Romania has been created during the reign of the Romanian monarchs. The Royal Family represents the link with those achievements, cultivating with abnegation, through the work of its members, the appreciation of this country’s history. Queen Anne’s exemplary life, from her education and remarkable modesty in the spirit of the catholic church, to the meritorious service during the Second World War in the French Forces, and sacrifices endured with dignity during the long exile together with her husband, King Michael of Romania, is an ideal worth emulating for us all! VM

Bucharest Art Deco apparent heights I

The svelte vertical outlines of a Bucharest Art Deco apartment block dating from 1935, designed by the Zilberman Architectural Bureau (according to the name tablet next to its entrance); Popa Soare area. (©Valentin Mandache)

I am impressed how the inter-war architect (from the Zilberman Bureau of Bucharest) managed to convey through a skilful play of lines and volumes this impression of considerable height for a building containing just three upper floors. The designer obviously used with high effect the laws of optimal optical proportions and perspectives, that have their origins in the architectural design of the Greek and Roman classical temples more than two millennia ago. This talent which was so assiduously cultivated by the inter-war Bucharest architects, is in very short supply among most of their contemporary counterparts, as one can see at every corner in this city littered with unsightly buildings, lacking proportion, erected during the just concluded property boom in Romania.

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I endeavor through this series of daily 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 architecture in Transylvania before the union with Romania

Neo-Romanian style cultural centre building, inaugurated in 1913 in Seliste, southern Transylvania, then part of the Empire of Austria-Hungary; press cut from a Romanian language Transylvanian newspaper.

The Habsburg Empire hosted an important Romanian population, especially in the provinces of Transylvania and Bukovina. After the the Compromise Act of 1867 which saw the reorganisation of the empire on the basis of a dual Austrian – Hungarian monarchy, Transylvania fell under the direct rule of Hungary, which pursued an unveiled policy of cultural and linguistic assimilation of the other ethic groups making up the province, a policy infamously known as “forced Magyarisation”, a sort of cultural identity cleansing. Those policies provoked a strong reaction from among the targeted nationalities (Romanians, Germans, Slovaks, etc.), which tried through diverse means to preserve their culture. The Romanian population greatly benefited in that regard from the support offered by the authorities of the neighbouring Romanian kingdom, entity called by the Transylvanian Romanians as Tara (the Country). That situation was not unlike that between the c19th Greek state and the Ottoman Empire, regarding the preservation of the cultural identity of the Ottoman Greeks. The Romanian state helped its ethic kin population in Transylvania in setting up a series of cultural centres or sponsored newspapers and magazines. The press cut presented in the image above dates from 1914, just before the start of the Great War, and is from a Transylvanian Romanian language periodic newspaper detailing the inauguration, the year before, of a cultural centre in the village of Seliste in southern Transylvania, near the city of Sibiu (in Romanian)/ Hermannstadt (in German)/ Nagyszeben (in Hungarian). The explanatory text accompanying the photograph points out the Neo-Romanian style architecture of the house, which by itself is a powerful ethnic identity statement expressed in architecture, mentioning that the design was by an architect named Cerna, from the Country (Romania). I like how the journalist defines the [Neo]-Romanian style as “the style of the old boyar cula [fortified yeoman house] encountered in the Country.” The harsh Hungarian cultural assimilation policies and the tensions generated within society backfired in a big way in the aftermath of the Great War, when the targeted ethic groups opted for self-determination, in the case of the Romanians, to unify their provinces with old Romania, facts that ultimately led to the obliteration of the once mighty Habsburg Empire.

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I endeavor through this series of daily 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.