Greetings for 2012!

Greetings for 2012! (Neo-Romanian style panel, 1920s house, Stirbei Voda area, Bucharest, ©Valentin Mandache)

Dear readers,

I would like to wish you an excellent 2012! The photograph above presents an exquisite Ne0-Romanian style façade panel dating from the late 1920s, presenting two winged fantastic animals, half-way between lion and eagle, also known as griffin, guarding the garden of paradise, seen as a vine plant laden with grape fruit, springing up from two rope threads, a sort of local yin and yang principles. It symbolises prosperity and stability, which are, I believe, very appropriate as wishes for the new year! :)

Yours,

Valentin Mandache, expert in Romania’s historic houses

The most popular 20 Historic Houses of Romania blog articles in 2011

from the blog statistics (click titles to access articles):
  1. The NEO-ROMANIAN ARCHITECTURAL STYLE: a brief guide on its origins and features
  2. Art Deco Building Interior Elements
  3. Psychedelic-like Design Art Deco Doorway
  4. Bucharest mid-1930s Art Deco Style House
  5. Art Nouveau Beer Restaurant in Provincial Romania
  6. Earthquake Events in Bucharest and Their Effect on Historic Houses
  7. Lilac leaf shaped Art Nouveau windows
  8. Travel writing: trip to Naples, Pompeii and Herculaneum
  9. Masonic Symbol on a Neo-Romanian Style Panel
  10. Superlative Bucharest Art Deco House
  11. Inverted ziggurat motif Art Deco windows
  12. The FOUR BUILDING BOOMS of BUCHAREST
  13. CASOTA CONAC: a magnificent Romanian period property with a great potential
  14. Bucharest’s Art Deco glass canopies
  15. The FINIALS of Neo-Romanian style houses
  16. The Romanian Revolution of 1989- Twenty Years On. A Book Review
  17. Art Deco Floral Motifs for Birthday Celebration
  18. Picturesque Little Paris style house
  19. Art Deco Style Greek God Bass-Reliefs: Photomontage & Slide Show
  20. ALLEGORICAL SCULPTURES on the Building of Romania’s National Bank

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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.

Hallmark elements of Bucharest’s architecture

I would like to present you three of the most conspicuous hallmark elements of Bucharest’s old architecture that imprint the identity of this large city at the eastern margin of the European Union. These are the glazed clamshell shape canopies embellishing the entrances of Little Paris style houses from the La Belle Epoque Period (corresponding with the late Victorian and Edwardian epochs for the British world or the Gilded Age for the Americans), the Neo-Romanian style panels depicting biblical and ethnographic scenes, which came into fahion especially in the first half of the inter-war period, and last, but not least, the charming, also avant-garde looking, Art Deco style doorways from the city’s golden age in the 1930s and early 1940s. The photograps bellow show representative examples form the multitude of that type of Bucharest architectural isnignia.

Clamshell doorway canopy, 1890s Little Paris style house, Mosilor area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The glazed clamshell canopies, which still delight Bucharest’s visitors, are inspired from the French late c19th architecture that incorporated the technological advances of the period in using wrought iron and glazed structures, pioneered even earlier by London’s Crystal Palace, expressed in iconic designs such as the roof of Le Grand Palais or Paris Metro entrances.

Neo-Romanian style decorative panel (1m lenght horizontally), late 1920s house, Cotroceni area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The Neo-Romanian decorative panels adorn many period houses in that style throughout the city. They depict abstract scenes from biblical stories or peasant mythology, being rendered in the manner of Brancovan church representations of the early c18th, which themselves are a remarkable synthesis, peculiar to the visual arts in the old principality of Wallachia, between indigenous, Byzantine, Ottoman, Renaissance and baroque motifs. The above panel shows a metaphor for the Garden of Eden, where peacocks as personifications of beauty and peace, feed themselves from grape fruit hanging from a luxuriant and elaborately contorted vine plant, a main agricultural crop in Romania and also  a symbol of the country’s rich natural environment, seen as the paradise on earth. The symbolism of the panel is that of the prosperity and well being for the house inhabitants. Interestingly, the peacocks show also eagle-like features, such as the curved beak, stern eyes and potent claws, a dual character that shows them also as protectors of that house, of the familly that dwells there. The “multi-role” appearance of animals or plants is quite a speciality of the Neo-Romanian imagery as eloquently shown in this panel.

Art Deco style doorway, late 1930s house, Dorobanti area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The Art Deco style is well represented in Bucharest through a great multitude of private and public buildings, the best exemplified such type of architecture in the entire South East Europe. The intelligent and harmonious design of their doorways is among the most conspicuous hallmark for those edifices, together of course with their wonderful staircase towers, porthole windows, decorative panels or ocean liner-like flag poles. There are literary many thousand of doorway designs to be admired, many of them of high quality. Above is a good such example, which displays the rule of three, a defining parameter of the Art Deco style, being probably an abstraction of a 1930s city skyline with tall buildings and sunrays bursting through the gaps between their tops, an epitome of those confident times in the forth decade of the c20th.

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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.

Staircase well

The staircase well of a mid-1930s Art Deco house, Matei Basarab area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The staircase well pictured above is from a derelict Art Deco style building, inhabited by poor state tenants (housed there since the 1950s when the house was confiscated from its owners by the communist regime). It is unlit, the natural illumination at its top coming through porthole shape windows.

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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.

A happy winter festive season to the Historic Houses of Romania blog readers!

The majesty of a grand Neo-Romanian style house, dating from the late 1920s, in a typical Bucharest hibernal landscape (www.historo.wordpress.com)

Season’s greetings dear readers! I hope you enjoyed this year’s articles on the delightful period architecture from this region of South East Europe!

Valentin Mandache, expert in Romania’s historic houses

The tribulations of Romania's historic architecture (©Valentin Mandache)

I envisioned the above composition as an allegory about the tribulations and resilience of Romania’s built historic landscape, which has evolved in a part of Europe that for the most part of the last half millennium has been at the capricious crossroads of confronting empires.

A happy winter festive season to the Historic Houses of Romania blog readers!

The majesty of a grand Neo-Romanian style house, dating from the late 1920s, in a typical Bucharest hibernal landscape (www.historo.wordpress.com)

Season’s greetings dear readers! I hope you enjoyed this year’s articles on the delightful period architecture from this region of South East Europe!

Valentin Mandache, expert in Romania’s historic houses

The tribulations of Romania's historic architecture (©Valentin Mandache)

I envisioned the above composition as an allegory about the tribulations and resilience of Romania’s built historic landscape, which has evolved in a part of Europe that for the most part of the last half millennium has been at the capricious crossroads of confronting empires.

Historic Houses of Romania: video-retrospective 2011

see it full screen, 720p HD

The video is a short metaphoric retrospective of Case de Epoca – Historic Houses of Romania blog’s activity in 2011. I shot were over 15,000 frames, posted more than 200 articles, read by on average 15,000 unique site visitors per month, and undertook over 50 architectural tours with participating public that came from all over the world. On the whole, it has been an exciting year! For 2012 I plan more tours in Bucharest and the rest of Romania, another batch of out of the ordinary architectural history articles and as a novelty- architectural history courses.

Yours,
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 Contact page of this weblog.

The Romanian Revolution – 22 years ago

I have been a participant in the historical watershed event that affected Romania in December 1989, which led to the violent overthrow of the communist dictatorship and paved the way to the first hesitant steps toward democracy after a 42 year hiatus since King Michael was forced to abdicate on 30 December 1947. Bellow are two of my articles on subjects related to the Romanian Revolution, published previously on this blog; just click the image to access the relevant article:

The Romanian Revolution of 1989- Twenty Years On. A Book Review

The BATTLE SCAR PEDIGREE of Bucharest’s period buildings: relics of the 1989 Revolution

Chronicle of the 17 and 18 Dec. ’11 architectural tours

The first photograph bellow shows a quite enigmatic identity message within a decorative panel embellishing the façade of an early 1930s house located in Kisselef area of Bucharest, which was among the buildings examined during my thematic architectural tour entitled “The Late Neo-Romanian Style” on Saturday 17 Dec. ’11. The second photograph presents most of the participants at the Sunday 18 Dec. ’11 architectural walking tour in the Cismigiu historic area of Romania’s capital.

"The Late Neo-Romanian Style" - Saturday 17 Dec. '11 architectural tour: identity panel on Neo-Romanian style house, dating from the early 1930s, Kisselef area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The Saturday tour started on a quite unpromising rainy weather, which was probably the reason why the participation came from Ireland, with no natives at all :) However the conditions improved less than half an hour into the excursion, when we benefited from beautiful sunbursts through clouds crossing Bucharest’s sky. We had the opportunity to examine a great multitude of Late Neo-Romanian style houses, concentrated in the Kisselef area of the city, rounding up our image about this particular phase in the development in Romania’s national architectural style, which unfurled between the late 1920s and the end of the 1940s. As the tour came to a close, the intriguing panel presented here came in our view. It contains the representation of a tree from whose trunk springs out a human arm holding a bucket, having on the other side something looking like a stack of six spheres arranged like the dots on a dice face. This panel could be, in my opinion, a family coat of arms or even a Masonic symbol connected with the first proprietor of the house. I look forward for opinions from you, dear readers, who might have access to better information, to clarify that tormenting, for me, riddle!

"Cismigiu historic area" - Sunday 18 Dec. '11 architectural tour: excursion participants

The Saturday tour in Cismigiu quarter was well attended by a nationally diverse group (Australia, US, Ireland and natives of course). We benefited of a wonderful weather, with a bright sun and a crisp, clear atmosphere propitious to view intricate architectural details. The trip started at Izvor tube station, ending at the Romanian Classical Writers’ Round in Cismigiu Gardens, after an assiduous walk of over five kilometres in three hours, examining at close range a large number of exquisite historic buildings. The photograph shows us toward the end of the tour, all with quite happy faces in my opinion, myself exhibiting a bit of the effects of speaking almost continuously throughout in my quality as a guide. :)

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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.

Images from last week end’s architectural tours (“The Art Deco & Modernist Bucharest” and “Dacia Quarter”)

Saturday 10 December '11: Art Deco & Modernist Bucharest tour (©Valentin Mandache)

Sunday 11 December '11: Bucharest's Dacia quarter tour (©Valentin Mandache)

You are kindly invited to this coming week end’s tours: Saturday 17 Dec. ’11 – “The Late Neo-Romanian Architectural Style” (13.00h – 15.00h) and Sunday 18 Dec. ’11: “The Cismigiu Quarter’s Architecture” (10.30h – 13.30h). I will post detailed announcements in the next couple of days.

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 Contact page of this weblog.

Art Deco doorway displaying “Apple’s design philosophy”

I photographed this beautiful Art Deco doorway during yesterday’s architectural walking tour in Dacia area of Bucharest. I like its pleasant to the eye proportions and reduced to essence decoration: the window has a simple reverberating diamond motif, pointed underneath by four small letter box openings that are also marked by label holders. These details are embraced by an ample handlebar, which bends horizontally in the lower half of the doorway, thus balancing the concentration of detail in the upper half. The excellent composition brings to my mind Apple computer company’s philosophical approach in designing its products, which is to be found “at the intersection of the technology and the humanities”, with the difference that the Bucharest example was designed about eight decades ago!

Art Deco style doorway, mid-1930s apartment house, Dacia 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 doorhandle

The doorhandle and doorway that it embellishes, presented in the images bellow, were photographed during last Sunday’s architectural walking tour in Mantuleasa quarter of Bucharest. The whole assemble is still in good condition after probably about eight decades of continuous use now. I like how the flower motif decorating the upper end of the handle is repeated on the keyhole lid, or the  references to the Art Deco style’s rule of three seen in the bars and diamonds motif embellishing the lower end of the doorhandle.

Art Deco style doorhandle, mid-1930s house, Piata Rosetti area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

Art Deco style doorhandle, mid-1930s house, Piata Rosetti area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

Art Deco style doorway with original doorhandle, mid-1930s house, Piata Rosetti 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 Nouveau lettering

The Art Nouveau style architecture is a bit of a rara avis in Bucharest. My periodical walking tour “Art Nouveau Bucharest” endeavours to survey an ample proportion of those elements embellishing the city. I thus feel rewarded when from time to time I find the odd Art Nouveau gem here and there, as is the case with the two letter rendering examples presented in the photographs bellow. The first one, with the name of the old Agricultural Bank, Banca Agricola or “Agricola”, as it was habitually known one century agao, was quite hard to spot, on top of a backstreet building façade in the CEC area of central Bucharest. The second Art Nouveau lettering example is on the floor of the western entrance of Amzei Church, a peculiar Art Nouveau – Byzantine design by architect Alexandru Savulescu in 1901. It welcomes the churchgoers with the saying “Sa fim credinciosi” (“Let’s be faithful/ believers”). Both examples are delicate signals to the indifferent contemporary passer-bys  from a long gone and beautiful epoch.

Art Nouveau lettering: the name panoply for "Banca Agricola" ("The Agricultural Bank") dating from the 1900s, CEC area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

Art Nouveau lettering: "Let's be faithful" on the pavement at the western entrance of Amzei Church, dating from 1901, 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.