Art Nouveau pavilion in Ocna Sibiului spa town

Ocna Sibiului (German: Salzburg; Hungarian: Vizakna) is a small spa town in historic Saxon Transylvania developed especially during the Victorian era, when the region was part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. Many of its hotels, restaurants and baths were designed in the Art Nouveau style, as is shown in the old postcard bellow (published in the early 1910s). I have not visited yet the place, but I understand that a number of those wonderful Art Nouveau edifices and decorations are still around and even “restored”, which in the context of today Romania should in fact mean aggressive restoration. I like the sight of the Saxon church bell-tower, pictured in the background of the postcard, rising over the old village and spa pavilion.

Art Nouveau style pavilion in Ocna Sibiului (old postcard, Valentin Mandache collection)

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I endeavour through this series of periodic 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 or selling a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in sourcing and transacting the property, specialist research, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contactpage of this weblog.

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11 comments on “Art Nouveau pavilion in Ocna Sibiului spa town

  1. Pingback: Art Nouveau pavilion in Ocna Sibiului spa town (via Historic Houses of Romania) « Romania Postcards Collection

  2. Looking at the http://www.ocnasibiului.ro website, it seems as if the central pavilion was recently demolished, but the (restored) restaurant still retains traces of Art Nouveau. Before demolition, the old Ocna can be seen at http://www.promet-tt.si/photogalleries/Romania%20ocna%20sibiului%20bathing%20place.jpg . It certainly didn’t look beyond salvation. The hotel which replaced it makes a nod to the original style, and one could say it’s less offensive, architecturally speaking, than most of its type in Romania – but not by much. Colours are foul and the “Salty Ocean” nightclub is a particularly low point!

    • It is quite a shame what the actual owners, authorities have done there, although with their best intentions, but unfortunately without the culture necessary to understand that saving the central pavilion would have been crucial for maintaining the identity of the place. Perhaps the next generation would be more sophisticated in that regard, although I have great doubt. VM

      • The next generation may be more sophisticated – and to be fair there have been some relatively decent restorations of late, for example Costisa Manor in Neamt – but I fear they won’t have an awful lot to save!

  3. Hi Mr Mandache
    Once again nice post. I wonder though. What happend wit that building in the postcard? Demolished?

    Thanks.

  4. Excellent :) I love the idea of a late 19th century spa town whose health giving properties draw people from around the country. Not only health-giving spa water, but healthier food, drink and exercise than people enjoyed during the year, plus lots of fresh air.

    So Art Nouveau architecture and decoration would match the time lines perfectly. And look good. Depending on when this spa resort first became popular, I would be interested in hearing what you mean by aggressive restoration.

    • Indeed, the setting of that spa town would have been very propitious within the rolling hills of Saxon Transylvania, surrounded by beautiful vineyards and oak forests. What also made an interesting sight was the contrast between the Art Nouveau architecture of that town (Ocna Sibiului/ Salzburg) and the rural Gothic houses and church of the neighbouring village. Nowadays Saxon Transylvania, a region as large as the English counties of Suffolk and Essex put together, is the largest rural Gothic architecture province of Europe (by the way, even Prince Charles has a property there :), but sadly is neglected and out of the major quality international tourist trail.

      I meant by “aggressive restoration” the way how this operation is most usually performed in Romania these days. The country, although is nearly the size of UK with a very large stock of historic properties, has a minuscule pool of specialists in historic restoration or expert craftsmen, a consequence of the low quality education of the communist decades, which destroyed the old traditions and appreciation of the past. As a consequence, most of restoration work performed in the last two decades are of unsatisfactory quality, using DIY store materials, and performed in an aggressive manner, with many fine decorative details erased or covered over in the best case.

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