The “classical” Art Nouveau doorway of a 1920s Neo-Romanian style building

The Art Nouveau style doorway of a 1920s Neo-Romanian style house, Cotroceni area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

I found the above doorway that displays some “classical” Art Nouveau patterns, especially the oval motif around the door window, in the quite unusual setting of a 1920s Neo-Romanian style house located in the Cotroceni area of Bucharest. My view is that this design contrasting quite markedly with the rest of the building, was not the whim of the initial owner or the architect of the house, but that the door comes from an older building which might have been there before the Neo-Romanian style one took its place or has been the doorway of the owner’s former home from some other part of Bucharest or even another town within or without Romania. That is quite plausible as in the aftermath of the Great War and the break up of the Habsburg, Russian and Ottoman empires, there were many population movements and refugees criss-crossing this part of Europe, many of them bearing with them relics of their former dear homes (lamps, chairs, trunks, etc.), and this doorway might have been one such a treasured memento, used as part of a new home in a new country.

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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 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.

Late autumn rose

A late autumn rose in front of an early 1930s Neo-Romanian style arched veranda, Dorobanti area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

I took a small break over the last three days and now I am back at my pleasant travails :) on the subject of Romanian period houses. The photograph above containing a slightly faded rose in front of a richly decorated Neo-Romanian style arched veranda is very evocative of the historic architecture of Bucharest and how this city has once been, before the communist takeover and the chaotic, low quality building boom of the last decade.

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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.

Cast iron balcony

1880s cast iron balcony, Lipscani area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

Fin de Siècle Bucharest was literally a city of ironwork balconies, when the Little Paris style architecture (what I call the French c19th historicist styles provincially interpreted in Romania of that time) has been all the rage in the city and the country. The balconies had in equal measure a functional and also a decorative role, greatly enhancing the personality of a house. The intricately worked iron balconies are also very evocative of the comfortable, relatively prosperous and contemplative way of life of the emerging middle classes in this corner of south east Europe during the height of the Victorian era. There were two main types of such architectural artefacts: the cast and the wrought iron balconies. The cast iron ones, such as the one from the photograph above, are usually the oldest examples of iron balconies, some of them dating from the 1860 – 1880s, while the wrought iron examples date mostly from between 1890s-1910s. The wrought iron balconies can be further divided into two types: upright fence ones and pear shaped balconies. Contemporary Bucharest is losing these charming period architectural embellishments at a fast pace, due to the chaotic and rapacious property development of the central areas during the last decade, or in some instances, even sold for scrap metal, by ignorant owners (the “new Romanians”, people from among the local middle class, very entrepreneurial, but crudely cultured, products of the low quality education system of post-communist Romania), who see them as an eyesore.

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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 Contactpage of this weblog.

Neo-Romanian style decorative panels

A conspicuous feature of the Neo-Romanian architectural style is represented by the elaborate decorative panels that emphasize areas of the façade or stairway. They contain a wealth of designs centred on a number of motifs inspired from the late medieval Wallachian church decorative panoply such as that of peacocks in the Garden of Eden, protector eagle or lions guarding the gates of Paradise. There are also instances of decorative panels containing non-religious abstract motifs in a variety of designs. Bellow are a few examples from the wealth of such attractive architectural artefacts embellishing Neo-Romanian style houses in Bucharest and Targoviste in southern Romania.

Neo-Romanian style decorative panel, late 1920s house, Dorobanti area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

The panel above is a representation of the protector eagle, guarding the Garden of Eden, engaged in a  manichean battle with a serpent, the embodiment of evil. The Garden of Eden is envisaged as a luxuriant grape vine full of fruit, with its vines contorted around the eagle in the shape of a Greek cross, an allusion that the supreme deity watches that never ending fight.

Neo-Romanian style decorative panel, early 1930s house, Dacia Boulevard area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

The panel from the second photograph is rendered in a more schematic, crisp manner, an indication of the Art Deco influence over the Neo-Romanian style that started to manifest in the early 1930s.

Neo-Romanian style decorative panel, late 1920s house, Targoviste, southern Romania. (©Valentin Mandache)

The image above shows an imaginative decorative use of a loft air vent, rendered in the shape of an abstract Greek cross, covered by a rectangular ironwork pattern containing smaller crosses of that type.

Neo-Romanian style decorative panel, mid-1930s house, Targoviste, southern Romania. (©Valentin Mandache)

This forth decorative panel contains a floral motif that does not have immediate religious references, rendered in an Art Deco manner, a result of the high influence of that style on the Romanian architectural scene in the 1930s.

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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 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.

Book launch event: “Royal Cookbook” by Princess Margarita of Romania

HRH Princess Margarita of Romania has launched last Saturday, at the “Gaudeamus book fair” in Bucharest, among a wide acclaim from the public and considerable interest from the press, her new book on culinary subjects. The volume is entitled “Royal Cookbook” [“Carte regala de bucate” in Romanian] and is produced by the Curtea Veche publishing house.

"Royal Cookbook" by Princess Margarita of Romania

The book is a true work of love, the result of personal searches, culinary experiences, encounters and contributions from an important number of European royals with whom the Princess is related or in close friendship. The great distinction of this volume is represented by the small vignettes charmingly portraying its contributors, people from the immediate family like HM King Michel, HM Queen Anne and HRH Prince Radu’s mother to Archduke Georg of Austria or Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan. The vignettes interposed between enticing cooking recipes are excellent devices for communicating to the reader the culinary tastes and firsthand glimpses of the daily life and aspirations of HRH Princess Margarita’s family and friends. I very much like the concise and precise writing style of the author, which makes the book a breeze to read and reveals without doubt the leadership genes shared by the princess with her ancestors, distinguished sovereigns of Romania. The Curtea Veche publishing house is to be commended for its acumen in publishing this wonderful book.

"Royal Cookbook" by Princess Margarita of Romania

Sharing and talking about food is one of the most convivial human activities, which bring together groups and individuals, managing to break otherwise insurmountable barriers between them. Through this brilliant book, written in a straight forward manner, communicating with ease its hospitality message, the Romanian Royal House has scored very high mark public relations points, which in the more usual daily life circumstances would have necessitated a considerably greater effort and expense. The volume thus represents a direct link with the public that brings the monarchy closer to the people, further blowing away the smokescreen put between them by the uncongenial press and politicians.

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Diana and I were among the numerous public that listened to the introductory speech of HRH Princess Margarita at the book fair. The area occupied by the bookstands seemed too small to hold such an enthusiastic crowd that surged forward, with people stepping over each others’ toes to catch a glimpse of the author and get an autograph. As historians, we had thus a delightful opportunity to feel and observe at first hand the huge interest and positive emotion generated by this remarkable event.

Valentin Mandache

Patriotic transition style house

Transition Little Paris to Neo-Romanian style house dating from late 1890s, Icoanei area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

This house, which dates from the 1890s, embodies an interesting and relatively rare example of transition style between the cosmopolitan Little Paris style (which in a nutshell represents a symbiosis of French c19th historicist architecture provincially interpreted in Fin de Siècle Romania, with old local Ottoman Balkans motifs and construction techniques) and the then newly emerging Neo-Romanian style, represented in this instance through a number of defining ornamental medallions. Two of these medallions, decorating the street façade (see them in  more detail in the photographs bellow), represent the Prince Matei Basarab (1588 – 1654) of Wallachia and the Prince Vasile Lupu (1595–1661) of Moldavia. The artefacts are probably inspired from the great mosaics containing representations of Romanian leaders that embellish the entrance of the prestigious Bucharest’s Romanian Athenaeum, created a few years before this house was built. The two princes, famous for their bitter rivalry, instrumented in the c17th a brief Romanian national revival in their princedoms, before the region was further subdued by the Ottomans who put it in the early c18th under the administration of Greek dragomans, from the Phanar quarter of Istanbul. The Neo-Romanian architectural style, a national-romantic order through its genesis and programme, makes intense allusions to the heroic medieval and late medieval past. It is thus natural to find symbols and representations referring to those epic times of yore, such as the effigies of Matei Basarab and Vasile Lupu, on houses built, in various degrees of finesse, by ordinary people at that time. It gives us an idea about the ethos of that epoch, when the patriotic sentiment, expressed in references typical of the Romantic era, was at its height in the late c19th Romania, an intrinsic part of the process of modern state and nation building in this area of Europe.

Mural effigy of voivode Matei Basarab, house from the late 1890s, Icoanei area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

Mural effigy of voivode Valile Lupu, house from the late 1890s, Icoanei area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

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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 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.

“Mahala” type house

"Mahala" type house, end c19th, Targoviste, southeren Romania (©Valentin Mandache)

The Romanian word “mahala” comes from the Turkish “mahalle”, which means “city district”. The connotations are however quite different, in Romanian the word designating the city slums, the poorest and worst areas of an urban settlement. Many mahala houses display interesting transition features between peasant/ rural and urban architecture. The image above shows a late c19th mahala house from the city of Targoviste in southern Romania. It is quite well preserved and gives an idea how the city slums would have looked like in this region of Europe more than a century ago. This type of building is quite rare now, their number diminishing year by year. In my opinion they have an architectural and social history value and some of them deserve to be preserved as interesting witnesses of this region’s urban evolution.

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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 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.

Solar or stage reflector design for Art Deco doorway?

Abstract solar motif design Art Deco style doorway dating from the late 1930s, Romana area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

I have to say that I pondered a bit on the significance of the Art Deco motif incorporated in the design of the above apartment block doorway in Bucharest and came to the view that it represents either a well rendered solar motif or an abstraction of the lights of a stage/ cinema reflector, frequently represented in Art Deco creations. The high quality of the design is also enhanced by the finely worked wrought iron that has withstood the vicissitudes and lack of maintenance of the past decades in communist and post-communist Romania.

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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 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.

Exclusive interview with Prince Nicholas of Romania, soon in ‘RDQ’ by Diana & Valentin Mandache (via Diana Mandache’s Weblog)

Exclusive interview with Prince Nicholas of Romania, soon in 'RDQ' by Diana & Valentin Mandache The Royalty Digest Quarterly will publish in its December issue (4/2010) an insightful interview with HRH Prince Nicholas of Romania, entitled "I see Romania as one big history lesson", in which he speaks about his country, education, his famous grandfather- HM King Michael, plans for the future. Interviewers: Diana Mandache & Valentin Mandac … Read More

via Diana Mandache's Weblog

Inverted ziggurat motif Art Deco windows

Art Deco style windows decorated with the inverted ziggurat motif; early 1930s house in Piata Victoriei area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

The triptych of windows in the photograph above would be quite monotonous without the inverted ziggurat motif represented on the dividing pillars between wall openings. The inverted ziggurat is often used with great effect in the Art Deco and Modernist architecture, enlivening the composition of the whole design. One of the most famous uses of this motif that comes to my mind is the general configuration of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim Museum in New York.

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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 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 houses from Bucharest’s Domenii quarter

 

Art Deco era houses from Bucharest's Domenii quarter (©Valentin Mandache)

The Domenii quarter of Bucharest has been developed in the inter-war period for habitation by the city’s elite. At that time it was located on the outskirts of Romania’s capital in a green area, not far from the Colentina river lake system. The Art Deco style is the predominant architecture of the Domenii villas, the area containing some of the best examples of such architecture in Romania. I documented some of those brilliant buildings in a few blog articles a while ago, two of which can be accessed here or at the this link. The Domenii quarter is now, according to the city’s regulations, an architecturally protected area, but nevertheless it suffered and continues to suffer untold damage at the hands of rapacious developers or uncultured property owners, who got wealthy in the recent property boom and moved en mass to this prestigious area. A sample of the handiwork of that truly barbarian new wave of moneyed post-communist settlers (sometimes euphemistically called “new Romanians”) in the area can be found at this link; it is an Art Deco house stridently painted by its ignorant owner, who has replaced its original doorway with a cheap DIY store door and has also replaced the original Art Deco windows with cheap plastic frame double glazing. Most probably the Domenii quarter will continue to be mutilated for years to come by that type of property owners and developers and consequently its character and attractiveness will be lost for ever. The photomontage above and the slide show bellow represents just a small selection from that area’s treasure of Art Deco style houses. I very much like the the house from the lower right hand corner of the photomontage, which sports a giant abstractly rendered violin on its stairs tower (see it in more detail in the slide show photograph).

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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 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.

Masonic, Phoenician?… inscription on doorway pediment

The doorway assembly of a house in Spanish Mission style dating from 1932, with a unusual pediment inscription. Kiseleff area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

I found in one of my research days in Bucharest in one of the most well-heeled areas of the city an inscription decorating the pediment of an inter-war Spanish Mission style house (one of the very few such design buildings from Romania’s capital) rendered in an unknown script. I tried to identify the letters in various online and paper printed sources, but to no avail. My impression is that the inscription is rendered in a medieval European alphabet revived and used by the Freemasons, who were vigorously active in Romania before the communist take over. I have already identified and published in the recent past photographs and considerations on a couple of long forgotten Masonic signs rendered as architectural decorations in another upmarket area of Bucharest, articles which can be accessed here and at this link. Another theory would be that the writing is Phoenician, the letters resembling somehow that script, my reasoning being that the house should have belonged to someone with Spanish connections (Romania used to have a sizeable Jewish Ladino community before the Holocaust and postwar emigration), as the architectural style would  imply, a land so much linked with the ancient Carthaginian civilisation. Anyway, I very much hope that someone from among my readers would be able to help in identifying the meaning of this peculiar piece of architectural history,.

Masonic or Phoenician inscription? on the doorway pediment of a Spanish Mission style hosue (1932) from the Kiseleff area of Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

PS In February 2011 I received an email from one of my readers, Mr. Ion Musceleanu, who conveyed to me an interesting interpretation of this inscription, made by a specialist in ancient Indo-European linguistics, known to the online community under the nickname Teofil. He considers that the text is in Sanskrit Devanagari, a script derived from the Gupta type, encountered in northern India and Nepal; the first row is a numa (“Gold”, “Golden”, which seems to be slightly misspelt), while the second row means “Fortune”/ “Chance”, again slightly misspelt. I would like to thank Teofil for this interpretation, which hopefully would help deciphering this architectural enigma of Bucharest.

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Prin aceasta serie de articole zilnice intentionez sa inspir in randul publicului aprecierea valorii si importantei caselor de epoca din Romania – un capitol fascinant din patrimoniul arhitectural european si o componenta vitala, deseori ignorata, a identitatii comunitatilor din tara.

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Daca intentionati sa cumparati o proprietate de epoca sau sa incepeti un proiect de renovare, m-as bucura sa va pot oferi consultanta in localizarea proprietatii, efectuarea unor investigatii de specialitate pentru casele istorice, coordonarea unui proiect de renovare sau restaurare etc. Pentru eventuale discuţii legate de proiectul dvs., va invit sa ma contactati prin intermediul datelor din pagina mea de Contact, din acest blog.

Bucharest History Quiz: win a city walk iPhone app

Recently I had the nice surprise to be contacted by the iPhone software developer GPSmyCity.com, who develops city walking tours apps. They have over 2,000 walking tours available, spanning over 180 cities worldwide, being the largest such travel portal. I was delighted to hear that they have now developed such a tour guide app for the city of Bucharest. GPSmyCity.com has asked me to feature on the Historic Houses of Romania blog a very interesting and engaging quiz contest on Bucharest’s history and character, which I am very pleased to do. The readers who correctly answer most of its questions, will win three (3) city walk iPhone app for cities of your choice developed by GPSmyCity.com! To find out more information about the application, click the iPhone screen-shot bellow, displaying the fist page of the newly developed Bucharest walking tour app. Good luck!

The answers have to be sent to the following email: quiz@gpsmycity.com The email subject will be something like “Bucharest quiz” and the message will contain the list of your answers, something like “Question 1 – Answer x, question 2 – Answer y, …” etc.

Here are the Bucharest Quiz questions:

1.
Issuing from the etymology of its name, “Bucharest” means:
1. City of Joy
2. Rainbow City
3. City on a Hill

2.
In 1936, Bucharest’s mayor requested King Carol II to close the Capşa House, because of the discussions that always took place there. With much humour, Carol refused to have the House closed, even though many thought that the House truly was:
A. the place of all evil
B. haunted by ghosts
C. the headquarters of a secret society

3.
Most of the representatives of this guild gathered on top of the Metropoliei Hill, who played a great role in the election of Alexandru Ion Cuza, were:
A. Musicians
B. Tanners
C. Courtesans

4.
In 1858, Bucharest was the first city in the world to:
A. Hold an international magicians’ contest
B. Have public illumination with kerosene
C. Organize hot air balloon races

5.
The first road in Bucharest (Calea Victoriei) was paved with:
A. Rectangular metal plates
B. Asphalt made from pig manure
C. Logs

6.
Using an ingenuous method of “fishing” ladies fur hats, the thieves’ favorite place in all Bucharest to endulge in their illegal activities was:
A. Stavropoleos Monastery
B. Central Fish Market
C. Bellu Cemetery

7.
The communists dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu disposed the errection of his would-be future residence – the Palace of the Parliament, also known as:
A. The most secure governmental building in Europe
B. The second-largest building in the world
C. The best preserved architectural momument of the communist era

8.
The name of one of Bucharest’s neighborhoods – Balta Albă (The White Swamp) was initially the place of a calcareous pit where:
A. in the times of plague, bodies were melted
B. nature sculpted a great calcareous swan
C. scientists discovered the formula of modern toothpaste

9.
Carul cu Bere (The Cart with Beer), has as symbol an old man, Moş Ghiţă, who even today watches over the place from the right banister. Mos Ghita was:
A. The place’s first owner, who had a secret brewing formula
B. A notorious customer which always left the place drunk on Sundays
C. A cellerman who worked here a couple of decades

10.
The tallest building in Bucharest until the 70s of the past century, errected after the model of the american skyscrapers was:
A. Bucharest Telephone Palace
B. The CEC Palace
C. The Royal Palace and the Athenaeum

The Spark Building (Casa Scanteii): the October Revolution and its architectural echoes in Romania

On 7 November there were 93 years since the Bolshevik October 1917 Revolution (which fell on 25 October according to the Julian calendar in use in Russia, and also in Romania, at that time). The architecture developed in the new Soviet state that emerged in its aftermath, especially that until Stalin’s death had a very interesting specificity, benefiting from the input of a pleiad of talented architects who were mobilised by the idealism of what was later proved to be the empty promises of the the political regime instituted by the Bolshevik revolution. The most grandiose architectural design type in the Soviet Union of that time was termed as “Stalinist Gothic”, with the most iconic such buildings located in Moscow, knowns as the “Seven Sisters” group of skyscrapers, numbering among them the Lomonosov (Moscow) State University or Ukraine Hotel. The technology and style conception employed in these prestige projects resemble in large measure the Art Deco design and delineation of American skyscrapers. The Stalinist Gothic architectural style was in fact much richer and flamboyant in its decorative register, with many motifs brought together, ranging from Greek and Roman classical references to Muscovite motifs and shapes, to communist symbols. The old postcard bellow, issued sometimes in the 1970s, celebrating the anniversary of the October Revolution, conveys through the excellent play of figurative shapes and colours the essence of that style, giving clues through the ziggurat outlines and play of chromatics to the strange Art Deco relations of the Stalinist architecture.

Soviet architecturally themed postcard celebrating the Soviet October 1917 Revolution

Once the Soviet Union won the WWII and established satellite regimes in Eastern Eurpe, this monumental architecture has also been implemented in locations such as Warsaw (the Palace of Culture and Science) or Bucharest (the communist press headquarters, “The Spark” building, “Casa Scanteii” in Romanian). While the Warsaw project was one of the largest and most expensive “Stalinist Gothic” edifices, the Bucharest one was cheaper and less decorous or grandiose, but nevertheless even today is still the second largest building in Romania’s capital, after Ceausescu’s megalomaniac House of the People building. The old press photograph bellow shows the US President Richard Nixon together with the local dictator Nicolae Ceasusecu passing by the front of “Casa Scanteii” edifice in a motorcade during the first such visit by an American leader in Romania, on 2 August 1969, one of the biggest foreign policy coups of Ceausescu (the biggest one was when he and his wife were received in a state visit by the Queen Elisabeth II at the invitation of James Callaghan’s Labour government in 1978). I like how the US journalist relates the style of the building in the caption of that telling photograph: “building in rear in Russo-Soviet style”. One can hardly find nowadays journalists able to say something pertinent about the architecture of the places where they have assignments as was the case with their predecessors not long ago.

The US President Nixon visiting Romania in August 1969, hosted by dictator Nicolae Ceausecu

The name of the buildings “The Spark House”/ “Casa Scanteii” was very fitting for the headquarters of Romania’s communist press, being a reference to the first Bolshevik newspape’r “Iskra” (Russian for “spark”), edited by Lenin. The irony is that “Iskra” was first printed and published in Chisinau, the capital of the Romanian speaking post-Soviet Republic of Moldova, in very close proximity to Romania. The edifice was erected between 1952 – ’57, designed by a collective of Romanian architects led by Horia Maicu, with important Soviet expertise input. There are some interesting references to the Neo-Romanian style in some of the building ornamentation. From the information which I have, the Soviet Union also contributed with important finances and workforce to this project meant to define the skyline of communist Bucharest. The quality of workmanship and materials used were excellent, being one of the best finished buildings in the entire country. Today the edifice is called “The House of the Free Press”, which is quite an irony, hosting many small newspapers and publishers, being poorly maintained and held in low regard by many Bucharesters. My view is that “Casa Scanteii” (a name which I think needs to be reinstated) is part of the local identity and history and deserves better treatment and appreciation as an architectural heritage monument. The building despite the neglect of the last two decades, is still very sound and with minimal investment can be brought to modern levels of comfort, just as Warsaw’s former Palace of Culture has been given a new lease of life through investment and new uses.

Hammer and sickle ornament, Casa Scanteii, Bucharest, 2010. (©Valentin Mandache)

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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 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.

King Michael of Romania, Name Day 8 November 2010 (via Diana Mandache’s Weblog)

King Michael of Romania, Name Day 8 November 2010 HM King Michael is described by his grandson HRH Prince Nicholas of Romania, in an interview which I had the privilege to be given this summer, as “a legend, you can not describe in words the way my grandfather was, what he did and his character”. Today is ‘The King Michael I Medal for Loyalty’ day, which co … Read More

via Diana Mandache’s Weblog