Balkan region corner shop house

1900s corner shop house, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The building above is one of the innumerable end of c19th corner shop establishments (it could have been at one time or another during its existence a grocery, a pub or a restaurant or all of these functions together), provided with living quarters on the first floor, that sprang up in towns throughout the Old Kingdom (how Romania before the Great War territorial changes is often called by the Romanians themselves). The architecture is what I call the Little Paris style, a mixture of provincially interpreted French c19th styles grafted on an Ottoman building fabric. This type of corner shop, where the owner’s family and sometime even the employees were living on the premises has been common throughout the Balkan Peninsula, as far as Anatolia in Turkey and is a reflection of the architectural fashions of the late Victorian Era throughout the region. Today the old Balkan type corner shop is an endangered species, being one of the prime targets for demolition or radical renovation in order to make way for new, more profitable buildings. They constitute, in my opinion, a very picturesque type of edifice, specific to the Balkans and Turkey from an era of interesting Western and Ottoman reciprocal influences. These building can easily find new uses in the today economy, especially in the tourism industry owning to their usually central location and architectural character reflecting the intricate economic and cultural history of this region of Europe, formerly part of the erstwhile Ottoman ream.

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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.