Fairytale castle style doorway

I would like to present you what in my opinion is the most flamboyant doorway in what I call the fairytale castle style that flourished in Bucharest during the prosperous second part of the 1930s. That architecture was developed at a time when many businesspeople got rich quick from country’s large oil and grain exports. The fairytale castle style is a variation of a more inclusive design, the Mediterranean style that emerged in those years, which is inspired from romanticised Mediterranean models of that era, such as Florentine, Venetian, Spanish or Arabic, also often mixed together with Neo-Romanian motifs. That type of architecture is also erroneously called “Moorish” in locally published Romanian tourist and cultural guides, although is does not have much to do with that particular architectural current. The aspect and message of that design is, in my view, quite frivolous, Disney-like, in tone with the easy money sloshing around in the late 1930s Bucharest.

Fairytale castle style doorway, late 1930s house, Cotroceni area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The massive wooden doorway is flanked by two stone columns modelling palm trees, decorated on their trunk with fleur-de-lis, aspirational symbols for nobleness and high status. The ornamental keystone of the door arch opening contains the monogram of the proprietor, a “T” letter.

Fairytale castle style doorway, late 1930s house, Cotroceni area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The column capitals suggest a palm tree’s foillage, crowned by stern looking sphinxes holding medieval knight shields between their stumpy and impressively clawed forelegs.

Fairytale castle style doorway, late 1930s house, Cotroceni area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The door itself is made from panels of heavy essence wood (probably oak), adorned with crusader shield basreliefs. The rivets that pepper the rails between panels suggest the entrance of a fortified castle from the times of yore.

The doorway assembly is thus very suggestive about the mentality and way of life of a part of the Romanian elite in the inter-war period, which was wiped out not long after by the Second World War and the four decades of communist dictatorship that followed.