Architectural tour chronicle: Campina & Comarnic

Images from Campina and Comarnic architectural tour (©Valentin Mandache)

The photomontage above contains photographs from last Sunday’s extensive and captivating architectural history and photography tour in Campina and Comarnic, 90-95km north of Bucharest on the Prahova Valley. This is the fist such tour outside the capital, which I organised so far, and I have been really pleased to have a number of participants way above my expectations, many of them seen in the images bellow. Campina is a beautiful town at the contact zone between plains and hills, which is famous for its oil industry, a wealth responsible for its interesting and high quality historic architecture. The photograph at the centre of the collage is a doorway pediment panel with oil industry motifs, embellishing the former offices of the local state oil company branch, built in 1941, when the area was awash with money paid by Nazi Germany, hungrly swallowing the Romanian oil for its war machine. As a result, there are many examples of quality architecture from the wartime, which is quite paradoxical, when one thinks at the ravages suffered by most of Europe at that time. Campina also has very fine Victorian era historicist style edifices and inter-war Neo-Romanian or Art Deco architecture, some of the most spectacular examples being designed by Toma T. Socolescu, a famous Romanian architect, active especially in the Prahova county of that period.

The second location visited, Comarnic, has its origin as a sheep station, which undertook an explosive development during the last two decades of the c19th. It was the main base base for the railway and road workers that opened Prahova Valey at the end of c19th, one of the last wildernesses of Europe. The railway enabled Bucharest to have for the first time in its history a direct and fast link with Transylvania and from there with western Europe. It marked the re-orientation of Romania’s capital from the economic sphere of the former Ottoman Empire, toward that of Europe. The old small hotels, inns, prostitution houses, concert halls of that age were built along the main road from wood planks and decorated with an explosive multitude of fretwork patterns, typical of the Victorian architecture and encountered in many other places of Europe or North America. Comarnic has thus probably the most abundant concentration of Victorian era wood fretwork in this part of Europe, which is now ignored by the official tourist trails and companies, remaining virtually unknown, despite the town’s relative short distance from Bucharest. We viewed most of these impressive buildings and examined at close range their intricate fretwork patterns, trying to imagine the life and atmosphere of the late c19th when this area was teaming with workers from Romania and Central Europe.

I trust that the participants had thus an interesting and intellectually productive Sunday out, in these more off the beaten track, but exceedingly fascinating, architectural locations. :)

Campina and Comarnic architectural tour (photography Dan Alexandru Croitoru)

Campina and Comarnic architectural tour (photography Dan Alexandru Croitoru)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

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.