Neo-Romanian style public fountain

This is a rare architectural history find: an example of Neo-Romanian style public fountain. It is located in the courtyard of Buzau county court house, south-east Romania. The designer of the whole court assembly, built between 1909 – 1912, is the architect Petre Antonescu, the most prolific and one of the best Neo-Romanian style designers, whose origins are in the Buzau county area (born in the city of Ramnicau Sarat).

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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.

Gara de Nord area: images from last Sunday’s architectural history & photo tour

Gara de Nord area: images from last Sunday’s architectural history & photo tour (©Valentin Mandache)

Gara de Nord area of old Bucharest is one of the most interesting and architecturally diverse parts of the whole city, but almost always ignored by the tourist books and photo albums now flooding the market or tour companies catering for indigenous and foreign visitors. Therefore last Sunday’s tour was for me something of a mission to put Gara de Nord back on its rightful place on the architectural map of Romania’s capital! I was fortunate to have enthusiastic and highly intelligent participants, who stimulated me even more in that endeavour. We were particularly impressed with the classical majesty, Doric like, of the main portal of Gara de Nord and also its massive Art Deco ornaments depicting winged train wheels crowned by grapevine leaves, symbolising the country (a motif also encountered in Neo-Romanian architecture). Absolutely striking were the decorative panels of the old Dacia Cinema depicting scenes from the silent film era. The stripped-down neo-Renaissance style of the old Polytechnic University edifice, dating from 1886, was again something of a treat. The residential blocks were also teeming with architectural delights, from delicate mascarons and fine wrought iron gates typical of the Little Paris style of the La Belle Époque period, flamboyant Neo-Romanian buildings with impressive roof finials and monumental doorways, to flowery Art Deco ornaments and stern International Modernist style dwellings. I thus trust that the participants enjoyed this rich in architectural history sights tour and will spread the word about Gara de Nord’s architectural nuggets :).

Gara de Nord area: images from last Sunday’s architectural history & photo tour- guide with tour participants in front of a magnificent wrought iron gate dating from the 1900s (photo: Valentin Mandache)

!!! The next Sunday (31 July ’11, 9am-12.00) architectural history and photography tour will take place in Dorobanti historic quarter, north-central Bucharest (see a map at this link); meeting point: Victoriei tube station (on the Aviatorior Boulevard, the one from where you can see the Air Forces monument). I look forward to seeing you there !!!

Valentin Mandache, expert in Romania’s historic houses

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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.

***********************************************

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.

“Insured” Little Paris style house

Some of Bucharest’s period houses still boast their picturesque insurance plates, as is the case of the dwelling presented bellow. These started to appear in a noticeable number during the first decade of the c20th, once the city adopted proper urban planning rules and developed a fire service able to cover the whole area of the city. It was a sign of civic responsibility and also of status, because paying insurance rates was something which only a minority of the citizens could afford in those times.

Insurance plate on a Little Paris style house, dating from 1912, Patriarchy Hill area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The insurance of a house was very advisable in Bucharest, a crowded city, with many wooden structures, which already faced a devastating conflagration, the Great Fire of Bucharest of 1847. Once a proprietor insured his house, the insurance company affixed a metallic plate with the company logo on the street façade of the edifice. The lettering style and spelling of Bucharest’s name are typical for the 1890s – 1910s period.

Little Paris style house, dating from 1912, with an insurance plate affixed on the street façade, Patriarchy Hill area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The building is wagon type house and dates from 1912, as inscribed on its pediment, a prosperous year for Romania, after the great world recession of 1907 and just before the Second Balkan War in which Romania participated directly. That brief period of prosperity and solid urban and architectural development went up in smoke during the expensive Balkan conflagration and the immensely more devastating First World War, when Bucharest fell under the occupation of the Central Power armies.

"Insured" Little Paris style house with the building date on its entrance pediment: 1912, Patriarchy Hill area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The construction year of the house, 1912, inscribed on its entrance pediment is contemporary with the period when the lettering style of the insurance plate and and the way how Bucharest’s name is spelled was in use.

"Insured" Little Paris style house, dating from 1912, Patriarchy Hill area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The well designed Little Paris style house and its insurance plate described in this article constitute a bit of a bright spot within the uneven and precarious historical development of this city and country, located in one of the most unstable geopolitical regions of c20th Europe.

Versiunea in limba romana la: http://casedeepoca.wordpress.com/2011/07/25/casa-in-stil-mic-paris-asigurata/

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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.

***********************************************

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.

Art Deco staircase tower window

Art Deco staircase tower window, mid-1930s house, Matei Basarb area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

I like the svelte lines of this staircase tower window from an Art Deco house in east-central Bucharest, which is excellently preserved despite the inauspicious conditions that prevailed in the country ever since the beginning of the WWII. Its quite austere lines remind me of the high tech factories of that era (e.g. automobile or aircraft industry), a main source of inspiration for the Art Deco style.

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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.

***********************************************

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.

1900s Neo-Romanian doorway

Neo-Romanian style doorway with Beaux Arts style elements, dating from the 1900s, Foisorul de Foc, Bucharest (Valentin Mandache)

The above doorway is an interesting hybrid of early Neo-Romanian style elements such as the broken arch and the rope motif lining up the arch, ethnographic solar discs at the base of the arch or lilac shape Greek cross niches above and on each side of the arch, together with Beaux Arts bits seen in the wrought iron ornamentation of the door, especially the house owner’s monogram surrounded by a laurel wreath, a classical motif quite alien to the early Neo-Romanian style, which had as its main sources of inspiration the Wallachian late medieval architecture (Brancovan) and also Balkan Ottoman patterns. The whole composition is a witness of a period when the Neo-Romanian style was at its beginnings, not yet fully imposed on the architectural scene of the country and gives an idea how it made inroads into the consecrated tastes of the public.

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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.

***********************************************

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.

Patriarchy Hill area: images from last Sunday’s architectural history & photo tour

Patriarchy Hill area: architectural history & photo tour, 17 July '11 (©Valentin Mandache)

The tour benefited from an unexpectedly breezy weather for this period of the year, which energized even more the enthusiasm of the participants in discovering the architectural intricacies of the edifices that make up the “Acropolis” of Bucharest and its surrounding maize of streets. The Patriarchy Hill contains the oldest buildings in use of Romania’s capital, with fragments datable from the c16th, making up the religious centre and administrative complex of the Romanian Orthodox Church Patriarchate, the institution that heads the main faith of this country. The small private residences sprinkled around the hill are in general in the Little Paris style, popular in the second half of the c19th, when the area was the very heart of the city and of entire Romania, hosting its secular (the Parliament) and temporal centres. The high prestige associated with the buildings in and around the Patriarchy Hill made them architectural models followed by craftsmen and architects in designs implemented in other quarters of Bucharest. We thus had an excellent opportunity to do some interesting “architectural archaeology” reviewing many of the surviving remains of this once illustrious part of the city, now in noticeable decline as in the last one hundred years, Bucharest’s economic, political and cultural centre has slowly moved toward the north. I trust that the participants enjoyed this nostalgic and also intellectual encounter with buildings that in many aspects comprise the essence of what once named the Little Paris of the Balkans! :)

Patriarchy Hill area: architectural history & photo tour, 17 July '11 (photo: Ioana Novac)

Tour participants and guide admiring and photographing some of the exquisite Barncovan style architectural details, some dating from the mid-c17th, used as archetype by the modern era Neo-Romanian style  designers, which embellish the Patriarch’s Palace.

Patriarchy Hill area: architectural history & photo tour, 17 July '11 (photo: Romulus Andrei Bena, http://www.prieteniiscoliicentrale.wordpress.com)

The undersigned giving explanations to tour participants about the picturesque Little Paris style dwellings located on United Principalities street, one of the former high prestige address areas of Bucharest in the c19th, before the centre of government and industry shifted to the north outskirts once the city developed strong trade links with Central and Western Europe, diminishing those with the former Ottoman world to the south.

Valentin Mandache, expert in Romania’s historic houses

!!! The next Sunday (24 July ’11, 9am-12.00) architectural history and photography tour will take place in Gara de Nord historic quarter, north-west-central Bucharest (see a map at this link); meeting point: Gara de Nord tube station (in front of the exit that faces, is closest to, the Railway Workers Monument). I look forward to seeing you there !!!

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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.

***********************************************

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.

Bucharest high summer 2011 fruit and flowers

I have encountered in the last few days a few glorious sights of luxuriant fruit and flowers in Bucharest, a few photographs of which are presented bellow. This sort of wonderful natural spectacle was very common in this city before the communist industrialisation and construction of the huge quarters of grey and overwhelmingly ugly concrete apartment blocks built to house the huge workforce brought in from the countryside. Today the city still suffers form the same industrialisation no matter what syndrome, with still little regard for promoting, let alone expanding, the remaining green areas. Bucharest of yesteryears has been an Eden like place not only from the point of view of its historic architecture, but also because of its luxuriant trees, fruit and flowers.

Glorious cherry plums - Bucharest high summer 2011 fruit and flowers (photo: Valentin Mandache)

Half mature quinces, getting ready for the autumn harvest - Bucharest high summer 2011 fruit and flowers (photo: Valentin Mandache)

Exuberant flowers, species Albizia Julibrissin (info: Athena Dumitriu) or Persian Silk Tree, Bucharest high summer 2011 fruit and flowers (photo: Valentin Mandache)

Blossoming tree (see above for flower detail), species Albizia Julibrissin (info: Athena Dumitriu) or Persian Silk Tree - Bucharest high summer 2011 fruit and flowers (photo: Valentin Mandache)

Vlach identity

There are sizable communities of Vlachs settled in and around Bucharest. The photograph bellow shows a Neo-Romanian style house dating from the 1910s, around the time of the Balkan Wars, displaying the name “Villa Cutika”, where Cutika is a Vlach feminine gender name.

Vlach is a collective term applied usually to peoples speaking Romance languages, others than Romanian, in the Balkan Peninsula. As you are familiar with the Romance speaking peoples of Western Europe, such as Spaniards, French or Italians, the same is the case in Eastern Europe, where there are smaller population peoples speaking Romance languages, descendants of the Roman colonists and Romanised natives from the time when the Roman Empire ruled the area two millenia ago. The Romanian language is the largest represented in terms of population Eastern Romance idiom, followed by a number of Vlach languages, such as Macedo-Romanian, Megleno-Romanian or Istro-Romanian. The nationalist movements that have affected the Balkan Peninsula in the last two centuries have often brought tragedies, such as discrimination and ethnic cleansing, upon the Vlach communities, who were allways a minority living in the midst of ethically different majority peoples then emerging as modern nations, such as the Greeks, Bulgarians or Serbians. The Romanian national state, in its turn, considered its duty to protect and give refuge to its etnic kin, the Vlachs, often wrongly regarded by the Romanian officials, historians and linguists as just speakers of mere Romanian dialects.

The house that hosts the tablet shown in the photography bellow was built by such a Vlach refugee family in Romania, perhaps around the time of the Balkan Wars, on a plot of land granted by the government. The style of the house is Neo-Romanian, being a fitting patriotic statement in architectural terms made by the proprietors to their adoptive country, also stating clearly the Vlach identity through the name tablet. The house is on Rumeoara Street, which sounds Vlach to me and it may well be the name of the region in the Balkans (Greece, etc.) from where the families settled on that street originate.

“Villa Cutika”- Vlach name tablet on Neo-Romanian style house dating from the 1910s, Fire Watchtower area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

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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.

***********************************************

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.

Vlach identity

There are sizable communities of Vlachs settled in and around Bucharest. The photograph bellow shows a Neo-Romanian style house dating from the 1910s, around the time of the Balkan Wars, displaying the name “Villa Cutika”, where Cutika is a Vlach feminine gender name.

Vlach is a collective term applied usually to peoples speaking Romance languages, others than Romanian, in the Balkan Peninsula. As you are familiar with the Romance speaking peoples of Western Europe, such as Spaniards, French or Italians, the same is the case in Eastern Europe, where there are smaller population peoples speaking Romance languages, descendants of the Roman colonists and Romanised natives from the time when the Roman Empire ruled the area two millenia ago. The Romanian language is the largest represented in terms of population Eastern Romance idiom, followed by a number of Vlach languages, such as Macedo-Romanian, Megleno-Romanian or Istro-Romanian. The nationalist movements that have affected the Balkan Peninsula in the last two centuries have often brought tragedies, such as discrimination and ethnic cleansing, upon the Vlach communities, who were allways a minority living in the midst of ethically different majority peoples then emerging as modern nations, such as the Greeks, Bulgarians or Serbians. The Romanian national state, in its turn, considered its duty to protect and give refuge to its etnic kin, the Vlachs, often wrongly regarded by the Romanian officials, historians and linguists as just speakers of mere Romanian dialects.

The house that hosts the tablet shown in the photography bellow was built by such a Vlach refugee family in Romania, perhaps around the time of the Balkan Wars, on a plot of land granted by the government. The style of the house is Neo-Romanian, being a fitting patriotic statement in architectural terms made by the proprietors to their adoptive country, also stating clearly the Vlach identity through the name tablet. The house is on Rumeoara Street, which sounds Vlach to me and it may well be the name of the region in the Balkans (Greece, etc.) from where the families settled on that street originate.

“Villa Cutika”- Vlach name tablet on Neo-Romanian style house dating from the 1910s, Fire Watchtower area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

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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.

***********************************************

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.

Buzau Commune Palace columns

The Buzau Commune Palace has been inaugurated in 1903 and is the work of Alexander Savulescu, a prominent Fin de Siecle era architect of Romania, famous as the designer of the Post Office Palace in Bucharest, which today hosts the National Museum of History of Romania. The Buzau edifice quarters the mayoralty and its name comes from that of the old administrative unit that in the late c19th described towns or districts grouping villages, a “commune”. It is the most flamboyant creation of Savulescu’s career, in a very peculiar style that blends Neo-Romanian elements rendered in part in an Art Novueau matrix, local architectural motifs found in the Little Paris style houses of Buzau tradespeople or aristocrats and decorative patterns inspired from the grape vine plant, a main crop of the area, symbolising an important component of Buzau’s economy.

Bellow are a photographs depicting a few columns and column elements that embellish the palace’s ground floor gallery. The column capitals are in their turn crowned by ample pediments, in the manner of those featured by the old Wallachian country mansions from the Ottoman period, decorated with the PC (Commune Palace) monogram, surrounded by vine leaves and grapes. The capital itself is also formed from an interesting composition of vine leaves.

Buzau Commune Palace column, 1903, architect Alexandru Savulescu (©Valentin Mandache)

Buzau Commune Palace column pediment, 1903, architect Alexandru Savulescu (©Valentin Mandache)

Buzau Commune Palace column capital, 1903, architect Alexandru Savulescu (©Valentin Mandache)

Buzau Commune Palace columns, 1903, architect Alexandru Savulescu (©Valentin Mandache)

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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.

***********************************************

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.

Wrought iron gate with cubist pattern

Bellow is a fascinating cubist-like design embellishing a wrought iron gate structure, which I encountered in Cotroceni quarter of Bucharest and have also shown to the participants at my architectural history tour, which took place in June past. It is another testimonial of the effervescent creative years of Bucharest that span the inter-war period, considered as a golden age for this city. The gate is in a run down state and needs urgent caring attention, but I doubt that it would ever receive any attention from the contemporary Bucharest people, having in fact a much higher chance to reach the scrapyard and be replaced by a new and “beautiful”, in their uncouth eyes, production line gate from a DIY shop.

Wrought iron gate with cubist pattern, Art Deco style house dating from the mid-1930s, Cotroceni area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

Wrought iron gate with cubist pattern, Art Deco style house dating from the mid-1930s, Cotroceni area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

Wrought iron gate with cubist pattern, Art Deco style house dating from the mid-1930s, Cotroceni area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

Inversed colour filter: wrought iron gate with cubist pattern, Art Deco style house dating from the mid-1930s, Cotroceni area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

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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.

***********************************************

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.

Bucharest hippocamp

Decorative panel with hippocamp ridden by a sea god/ goddess (panel cca 90cm length) on the façade of Frederic Stork Museum in Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The hippocamp (Greek for “horse – sea monster” combined together ), a decorative element, part of the classical panoply, is one of the most scarcely represented mythical animals adorning the diverse buildings of Bucharest, in sharp contrast with the popular mermaids, winged horses or centaurs. I was able to identify so far just a handful of compositions that contain the hippocamp depiction on the façades of c19th and early c20th historicist style edifices, with the most prominent representation shown in the above photograph. It embellishes the street wall of Frederic Storck Museum in the ASE area of Bucharest. The building was designed by the French architect Alexandre Clavel in 1911-’13 in a basic German Renaissance style, as an identity message of its owner, the sculptor Frederic Storck, a Romanian artist of German ancestry. Stork himself decorated the building and this panel is probably his work. It is in the same German Renaissance vein as the style of the house, representing a beautiful hippocamp mounted by a human figure of uncertain gender.

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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.

***********************************************

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.

Kiseleff area: images from last Sunday’s architectural history & photo tour

Kiseleff area, Bucharest: images from last Sunday’s (10 July '11) architectural history & photo tour (©Valentin Mandache)

The photomontage presented here is just a minuscule sample from the extraordinary richness and diversity of historic architecture encompassed within Bucharest’s Kiseleff area, the jewel in the crown for Romania’s capital’s iconic architecture. The tour was well attended by passionate and informed participants and I was only pleased to be their guide! We viewed and photographed a wide range of public and private buildings, from arch. Victor Stefanescu’s “Geological Museum” (1906-’08), a huge and unusual Neo-Romanian style edifice that is like a zoomed in picture of a normal size mansion in that style, or Ion Mincu’s Causeway Buffet (1889-’92), one of the earliest Neo-Romanian style buildings, considered as his most beautiful and accomplished creations, to a multitude of elegant houses in Art Deco, International Modernist, Neo-Romanian of all species and synthetic styles typical of Bucharest’s inter-war period. The tour has thus been a good comprehensive review of what Bucharest had best to offer in terms of historic architecture and I trust that the participants enjoyed this intellectuality loaded day out! :)

Kiseleff area, Bucharest - last Sunday’s (10 July '11) architectural history & photo tour (photo: Romulus Bena, Prietenii Scolii Centrale)

The above photograph presents tour participants listening to yours truly, in front of the Museum of Romanian Peasant, a magnificent palatial Neo-Romanian style building, displaying motifs and symbols from throughout all of Romania’s historic provinces, with references to the Byzantine, Gothic and also Islamic Ottoman models, an architectural message about the geopolitical position of the Romanian lands throughout their history at the junction point of the Christian (both Eastern and Western) and Islamic civilisations. The edifice was designed by arch. Ghica Budesti in 1912 and completed in 1940.

Kiseleff area, Bucharest - last Sunday’s (10 July '11) architectural history & photo tour (photo: Idei Cusute)

Tour participants in front of the Causeway Buffet. The edifice is considered today as one of the most important and seminal Neo-Romanian style structures ever built.

Kiseleff area, Bucharest - last Sunday’s (10 July '11) architectural history & photo tour (photo: Idei Cusute)

Participants at the tour and guide taking a break in a piazzetta off Kisseleff Boulevard, admiring the multitude of grand and flamboyant Neo-Romanian style edifices surrounding them on all sides.

Valentin Mandache, expert in Romania’s historic houses

!!! The next Sunday (17 July ’11, 9am-12.00) architectural history and photography tour will take place in Patriarchy Hill historic quarter, south-central Bucharest (see a map at this link); meeting point: Piata Unirii tube station (in front of the exit on Boulevard Dimitrie Cantemir, next to Horoscop Restaurant. I look forward to seeing you there !!!

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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.

***********************************************

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.

Wallachian Art Nouveau

The city of Targoviste, 80 km north-west of Bucharest and a former capital of the old principality of Wallachia, has managed to preserve an important proportion of its architectural heritage during the last seven decades of communist misrule and post-communist wild transition to a market economy in Romania. It has also weathered quite well the calamitous property boom of 2000 -’08, which saw destruction of historic public and private buildings on a larger scale than throughout the entire communist period. One of those interesting historic architecture examples preserved in Targoviste is the house presented in the photographs bellow, displaying Neo-Romanian elements in an Art Nouveau guise. It dates probably from the 1900s and shows signs of extensive subsequent alterations. The edifice is located at one end of city’s old commercial street, near the beautiful Beaux Arts style Targoviste town hall, about which I wrote an article at this link. The Neo-Romanian style has evolved in large part, during its initial stages, within the Art Nouveau current and this building is an interesting product of that period. I apologise for the differences in shade and colour intensity between photographs, due to the various hours and light conditions in which they were shot and subsequently processed.

Wallachian Art Nouveau, house dating from the 1900s, Targoviste (©Valentin Mandache)

I like the Romanian ethnographic motifs giving personality to this house such as the wood carved poles embellishing the oriel balcony or the frieze modelling a peasant embroidery that decorates its street façade.

Targoviste Art Nouveau house displaying Neo-Romanian motifs, house dating from the 1900s (©Valentin Mandache)

The main widow is also a Neo-Romanian type, making references to a church triptych, rendered in an Art Nouveau manner. The geometrical pattern of the wall frieze, easily discernible in this photograph, is inspired from peasant embroideries found in this area of Wallachia.

Neo-Romanian triptych type window in an Art Nouveau guise, 1900s house, Targoviste (©Valentin Mandache)

Wallachian Art Nouveau, house dating from the 1900s, Targoviste (©Valentin Mandache)

The above image shows the oriel balcony adorned with wooden poles carved in a similar manner with those encountered in Wallachian peasant houses.

Wallachian Art Nouveau, detail of the oriel balcony, house dating from the 1900s, Targoviste (©Valentin Mandache)

The main Art Nouveau trait in the design of the balcony is the circle arch, spanning the wooden poles, a reference to the Islamic inspired medieval and early modern architecture of the Ottoman Balkans, a region that also encompassed the former principality of Wallachia.

Wallachian Art Nouveau, the carved wooden poles of the oriel balcony, house dating from the 1900s, Targoviste (©Valentin Mandache)

Wallachian Art Nouveau, side entrance and widows, house dating from the 1900s, Targoviste (©Valentin Mandache)

Other Art Nouveau elements, which are not related to Neo-Romanians motifs, are the two simple doorways embellishing the side of the house, the more remarkable of them looking inspired from the design of a Rennie Mackintosh Argyle chair.

Wallachian Art Nouveau, side doorway (Argyle chair motif), house dating from the 1900s, Targoviste (©Valentin Mandache)

Wallachian Art Nouveau,side doorway, house dating from the 1900s, Targoviste (©Valentin Mandache)

There is another similar design building in Targoviste, about 0.5km away toward the old princely courts, presumably the work of the same architect(s), about whom I hope to find out details in my future fieldtrips to this wonderful southern Romanian city.

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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.

***********************************************

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.

Istrita stone stairs

This is a pleading to those undertaking restoration and renovation works of Romania’s historic buildings to start using again the wonderful Istrtita stone, a local building material that was quarried for centuries by peasants from the villages dotting the the Istrita Hill in Buzau county, eastern Wallachia. It is a greyish brown limestone, resulted over the geological ages from cemented together fossil shells. The stone is found in the structure and decorative elements of many peasant and period town houses or historic public edifices from the region of Buzau, as are the picturesque stairs presented in the photographs bellow that embellish a late 1890s Little Paris style house in Buzau city centre. The Istrita stone was also extensively used in farther away places from Bucharest, Braila or Ploiesti. Its most interesting use is, in my opinion, as material for making traditional peasant crosses, which embellish old village cemeteries in south-eastern Romania. The Istrita stone is now practically forgotten, despite its high significance for the local architectural identity and excellent potential as building material. It has fallen out of grace once the industrially produced concrete became widely available in the 1960s and also because in the last two decades the market has been flooded with cheap imported construction materials, a large proportion of which comes from as far away as China or India.

Istrita stone stairs, Buzau; house from the 1890s (©Valentin Mandache)

Istrita stone stairs, Buzau (©Valentin Mandache)

Istrita Hill, Buzau county, Romania (Google Earth)

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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.