Neo-Romanian style fences

The architectural design and craftsmanship attained a peak in Romania in terms of quality and excellence during the late 1920s until de advent of the Second World War. The communist and post communist decades that followed saw the dramatic decline of those skills and talent, which are now just a poor shadow of those former years of glory. Some of the profusely conspicuous architectural elements created in that period are the street fences, among which the Neo-Romanian style fences are of often of a spectacular and intriguing design. Bellow are two such examples that have survived those decades of vicissitudes without much maintenance or contemplation from the inhabitants of this city.

Neo-Romanian style street fence dating from the early 1930s, Dacia area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The wrought iron fence seen in the above example contains Neo-Romanian motifs seen especially in the Greek cross motif decorating its upper band. I like how the designer solved the problem of absence of proper fence poles by extending the structure over the concrete base at regular intervals, a position also decorated in an ampler fashion, with an arched motif atop, reminding the Byzantine arches frequently encountered in the panoply of the Neo-Romanian style.

Neo-Romanian style fence dating from the early 1930s, Dacia area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

This street fence example contains massive poles adorned atop with the rope motif, often encountered in ethnographic and church decoration. The poles are a national-romantic metaphor for the medieval citadel towers that populate the Romanian romantic literature, referring to the medieval national resistance against invasions from all directions. The fence itself is made from high quality wrought iron, displaying outlines that remind of Brancovan era (the Wallachian late medieval period) church broken arches and wall structures that resulted from a unique synthesis between the Byzantine Christian and Ottoman Islamic decorative registers.

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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 Contact page of this weblog.

HM King Michael of Romania’s 90th birthday anniversary

A very happy 90th birthday anniversary to His Majesty King Michael of Romania!

HM King Michael of Romania (b. 25 October 1921)

I am off to the Romanian Parliament, where Diana and I are invited to assist at a special session where His Majesty will deliver a speech.

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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 Contact page of this weblog.

Neo-Romanian wooden jardiniers

Bellow are presented two Neo-Romanian style wooden jardiniers, which I photographed during last month’s architectural history and photography tour in Targoviste. They adorn the exterior walls of a large and beautiful house from that that city, which I wrote about it in an article last year. I like the simple, clean design of these useful and very decorative artefacts, which manages to encompass allusions to ethnographic motifs (i.e. the small wooden “x”-es alluding to wood carvings decorating peasant houses). The delicate arched consoles supporting the jardiniers represent also an echo from those inspiring sources, similar with the design of Neo-Romanian style doorway awnings such as seen in the example which I detailed in an earlier article at this link.

Neo-Romanian wooden jardiniere, 1920s house, Targoviste (©Valentin Mandache)

Neo-Romanian wooden jardiniere, 1920s house, Targoviste (©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.

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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 Contact page of this weblog.

Art Nouveau garden gate

Art Nouveau style garden gate dating from the 1910s, Gradina Icoanei area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

I discovered the rare for Bucharest Art Nouveau style garden gate, detailed in the photographs presented here, during the architectural history and photography tour, which I organised this just passed Sunday in Gradina Icoanei area of Bucarest. It is located on a private cul-de-sac road and as a result difficult to see from the main street. Solely the lower half of the structure, or rather a part of that sector, is original, created a century ago, constituted from a curvaceous wrought iron plant motif arranged in a typical Art Novueau tulip bulb pattern. Its upper half is quite an uninspired contemporary addition stitched on to increase the height of the fence and thus deter eventual intruders, a fact that reflects the stark contrast between the happy and prosperous times of the La Belle Époque Bucharest when this gate was put in place and today’s social topsy-turviness generated by Romania’s wild transition form communism to capitalism of the last two decades.

Art Nouveau style garden gate dating from the 1900s, Gradina Icoanei 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.

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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 Contact page of this weblog.

Corner-inside Modernist staircase

Corner-inside Modernist staircase, late 1930s apartment block designed by arch. R. Glasberg, Dacia area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The above photograph shows an interesting solution for placing the staircase of a modernist building, which had to use a difficult shape plot of land, facing a small courtyard filled with other packed together Art Deco and Modernist style apartment blocks, in Dacia area of Bucharest. The edifice was designed by architect R. Glasberg, dating from the late 1930s, showing his talent in an era without computer aided design, when he had to rely solely on imagination, experience and good training. The corner-inside staircase is not only a practical solution, but also a decorative one, full of meanings as it resembles a column, in my opinion inspired from the totemic poles of Romanian peasant art. In fact at the time when the building was designed, the famous Endless Column sculpture created by Constantin Brancusi was being erected in the town of Targu Jiu in south west Romania and is not excluded, given the fame and impact of Brancusi’s art in Romania, that it influenced Glasberg in choosing his staircase design presented here.

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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 Contact page of this weblog.

Neo-Romanian tower ceiling decoration: peasant cosmogony

The following images are from the Minovici museum, also knonw as Mina Minovici villa, in Baneasa – Herastrau area of Bucharest, which is one of the most iconic Neo-Romanian style edificies, erected in 1905 – ’06 after the plans of architect Cristofi Cerkez, to house the Romanian ethnographic art collection of dr. Nicolae Miovici, the first national art museum in the country. What drew my attention was the amply decorated ceiling of its imposing tower, a rare occurrence for this architectural order. It is clearly inspired from the late medieval Wallachian, also known as Brancovan, church decoration, such as that which I documented at Stavropoleos church. It is a cosmogonic composition, depicting the celestial universe, with its constellations seen in the yellow colour vines and leaves curling intricately around small red buds signifying the diverse worlds and flowers with red stamen and yellow petals signifying the burning asters, where the Sun, the largest flower, is at the centre of the cosmos. The decoration is thus an excellent rendering of the Romanian peasant cosmogonic belief system, expressed in legends and ballads such as the well known Miorita, which I can say with a high degree of expectation that is architecturally rendered in this wonderful painted ceiling.

Neo-Romanian tower ceiling decoration signifying the cosmos with the Sun at its centre, Minovici villa, arch. Cristofi Cherkez 1905 - '06, Baneasa - Herstrau area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

Neo-Romanian tower ceiling decoration, Minovici villa, arch. Cristofi Cherkez 1905 - '06, Baneasa - Herstrau area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

Minovici villa, arch. Cristofi Cherkez 1905 - '06, Baneasa - Herstrau 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 Contact page of this weblog.

Art Deco lamp survivor

Art Deco lamp, mid-1930s block of flats entrance, Dacia area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

I like the “ahead of its times” design of this mid-1930s Art Deco style lamp that now hangs precariously from the dilapidated entrance hallway ceiling of a large apartment building on Dacia Boulevard in Bucharest, designed in that period by Ion and Tiberiu Niga, a famous local inter-war architectural bureau. The building itself is rendered in a Mediterranean style peppered with Neo-Romanian references, popular in the prosperous forth decade of the last century Romania.

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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 Contact page of this weblog.

Art Nouveau doorway awnings

One of the hallmarks of Fin de Siècle Bucharest is its great multitude of glazed doorway awnings, of a design similar with those fashionable in the France of that period. Indeed, if I were to chose an architectural symbol of Bucharest, then high on the list would be the glazed French Fin de Siecle style awning. Standing out among them and few in numbers are those rendered in a clear Art Nouveau style, featuring free flowing curves, effusive floral ornaments or whiplash shape motifs. I found two better preserved such rare architectural artefacts, which I would like to present in the photograph bellows. I am not sure if the glass (or other material) skin that covers the metal framework is the original one or is a later replacement, a detail which however does not diminish from the exceedingly pleasing visual impression made by these century-old structures.

Art Nouveau style doorway awning, 1900s house designed by architect Dimitrie Maimarolu, Mantuleasa area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

Art Nouveau style doorway awning, house dating from the 1900s, Piata Victoriei 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 Contact page of this weblog.

Art Deco style school

I continue here the series of posts dealing with the historic architecture of the city of Ploiesti, the major oil extraction and refining centre of Romania. Today I would like to present a remarkable Art Deco style school building, dating probably from the second part of the 1930s, located on Republicii Boulevard, just across the street from the Art Deco era tram, which I documented in a post published yesterday. The school is named “St. Basil Gymnasium” (“Colegiul Sfantul Vasile”), presenting a symmetrical street façade, where the rule of three is noticeable in the window partitions at its centre. The building features a number of interesting Art Deco elements, seen in the following photographs, comprising details such as well designed doorways for boys (“baieti”) and girsl (“fete”) to a nicely preserved 1930s clock. I will let the photographs to speak for themselves and hope that you would enjoy this short visual Art Deco in this corner of south east Europe.

Art Deco style school, Ploiesti (©Valentin Mandache)

Art Deco style school, entrance for girls, Ploiesti (©Valentin Mandache)

Art Deco style school, detail of the doorway ironwork featuring the Greek key motif, a suggestion that the school is envisaged as a "temple of learning", Ploiesti (©Valentin Mandache)

Art Deco style school, entrance for boys, Ploiesti (©Valentin Mandache)

Art Deco style school, detail of the doorway wall opening decoration, Ploiesti (©Valentin Mandache)

Art Deco style school, detail of the doorway for boys pediment, Ploiesti (©Valentin Mandache)

Art Deco style school, detail of the doorway for girls pediment, Ploiesti (©Valentin Mandache)

Art Deco style school, detail of the letter architectural rendering used for doorway inscriptions, Ploiesti (©Valentin Mandache)

Art Deco style school, close up of the late 1930s, made in Germany clock, Ploiesti (©Valentin Mandache)

Art Deco style school, details of the side façade and doorway, Ploiesti (©Valentin Mandache)

Art Deco style school, Ploiesti (©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 Contact page of this weblog.

Art Deco era streetcar

Art Deco era streetcar, Michael the Brave Park, Ploiesti (©Valentin Mandache)

The streetcar in the above photograph is a transport history exhibit placed in Michael the Brave Park in Ploiesti, the major oil production and refining centre of Romania. It dates from the 1930s, a time when the Art Deco architecture was highly fashionable there, along with the Neo-Romanian style. Ploiesti boasts the largest, in my opinion, Art Deco style building in the south east Europe: the Central Market Halls, designed in the first part of the 1930s by the great architect Toma T Socolescu, a native of the area, and also a multitude of other such wonderful edifices, such as the house which I documented in this blog article. The tram seen here, with its fine and simple outlines, also reminds of the Art Deco fashions found besides architecture, in a multitude of domains such as industrial machinery or jewellery design.

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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 Contact page of this weblog.

Art Deco pelicans

I had a nice surprise in one of the late afternoons of the last summer, when doing a rehearsal for one of my Bucharest historic architecture tours, to discover in a quiet cul-de-sac in the Calea Victoriei area of Bucharest a very quaint and well preserved Art Deco style house featuring prominently the pelican motif. The stylised pelican figures adorn the base of the square section columns that surround the house façade at regular intervals.

Art Deco pelicans, mid-1930s house, Calea Victoriei area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The house resembles somehow a reduced scale public building, in the manner of the inter-war monumental edifices with an Art Deco – Modernist architecture inspired from classical themes. In this case the pelicans and the columns are inspired, in my opinion, from Egyptian motifs, very much in tone with the Art Deco’s panoply of motifs. It may well be that the interesting black square ceramic tiles that form the column capital suggest the papyri or lotus plant of ancient Egyptian decorative arts, which wonderfully balance the pelican motif at its base.

Art Deco pelicans, mid-1930s house, Calea Victoriei area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The pelicans adorn each face of the column, creating an attractive play of repeating images, enlivening the building in its enitrety.

Art Deco pelicans, mid-1930s house, Calea Victoriei area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The pelican figure is stylised and angular, in the manner of “cubist” design popular of the 1920s and ’30s.

Art Deco pelicans, mid-1930s house, Calea Victoriei area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The square ceramic tiles forming the capital of the columns are in good harmony with the square section of the columns and the square chequered roof eave, creating a pleasing visual effect.

Art Deco pelicans, mid-1930s house, Calea Victoriei area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The Art Deco decoration of this house make also ample reference to the rule of three, also inspired from Egyptian mythology and so popular with this inter-war architectural 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 Contact page of this weblog.

Art Deco lightwell

Art Deco lightwell, mid 1930s apartment block, Dacia area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

This is a photograph taken during last Sunday’s architectural tour in Dacia area of Bucharest. It is the lightwell of pleasing to the eye proportions, of a modest apartment block dating from the Art Deco era. I like the contrast between its quite stern grey outlines and the blue of the sky, giving the impression of a time window, making a link between the Bucharest of eight decades ago and nowadays.

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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 Contact page of this weblog.

Carpathian dwarf rooster

Carpathian dwarf rooster photographed in the late afternoon October light, Comarnic, Prahova county(©Valentin Mandache)

Continuing with my posts praising the wonderful autumnal light of which we benefit here at 45 degree north latitude in the lower Danube region of Europe, I would like to present you the image of a splendid domestic bird photographed in October last year in Comarnic, in the foothills of the Meridional Carpathian mountains (the Transylvanian Alps). It is a free range, two or three years old, dwarf rooster, proud in its immaculate plumage and in an excellent state of health. Organic farming is one of the main attractions for anyone considering buying a country property in Romania, and this photograph is one of the innumerable proofs in that regard :)

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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 Contact page of this weblog.

Bucharest autumn flowers

Bucharest autumn flowers, Polona Street, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

Above is a sample from the multitude of autumn season flowers that embellish many of the historic houses of Bucharest. I took the photograph during last Sunday architectural history and photo tour in Dacia area, on Polona Street. The plant and flowers adorn the fence surounding a picturesque Little Paris style house dating from the La Belle Époque period (late Victorian and Edwardian periods).

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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 Contact page of this weblog.