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.

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