Art Nouveau style gates

Art Nouveau style gates, dating from the 1900s, Mosilor area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

These interesting Art Novueau iron gates are one of the “discoveries” made yesterday during the architectural history and photography tour in Mosilor area of Bucharest. The metalwork of this once exquisite structure, which is an architectural rarity for the entire south-east region of Romania, is quite corroded and would need an ample restoration process to bring it to its former glory. I very much doubt that would ever happen in contemporary Bucharest, where most the inhabitants do not have even an elementary understanding, let alone appreciation, of their architectural heritage. The gates have, in my opinion, an infinitely higher chance to reach the scrapyard.

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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.

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.

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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.

Art Nouveau style door handle

Art Nouveau style door handle, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The photograph presents a beautiful Art Nouveau style brass door handle, which I recently found in the Cismigiu area of Bucharest, adorning a large doorway decorated with neo-baroque motifs, of a Little Paris style house dating from the 1900s. It is a quite rare architectural history artefact find for Bucharest.

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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.

Quaint Little Paris style house in Ploiesti

Little Paris style house from the La Belle Époque period in Ploiesti (©Valentin Mandache)

This Thursday I undertook a short trip to Ploiesti, the centre of the Romanian oil industry, 60km north of Bucharest, and managed to photograph a sample of its great multitude of architecturally remarkable houses, built in large part by money generated by its oil wealth and also from Ploiesti’s traditional role as major market town in the region. Its urban development and architectural mix resembles at a smaller scale the historical trajectory followed by Bucharest. One of those noteworthy building, which I encountered there, located on the Independentei Street, is presented in this post’s photographs. It is a picturesque Little Paris style (what I call the French c19th historicist architecture provincially interpreted in Romania of the La Belle Époque period) dwelling, dating probably form the second part of the 1890s or the first years of the c20th at the latest, which seems quite well preserved. This type is often encountered within the territory of the Old Romanian Kingdom (pre-WWI Romania, which did not contain Transylvania and other territories gained after the war). Its general outlines remind me of an evocative Bucharest house from an impressionist style painting, about which I wrote a past article, see this link. I like its compact, box-like appearance, with rounded corners, central wrought iron doorway and ample shell-shape awning. The roof boasts two protruding round attic windows, an ornamental crest and spiky details dotting the drain trough at regular intervals. The decorative register for this type of house is generally inspired from the rococo style panoply, often containing interesting Art Nouveau elements for edifices built at the turn between the c19th and c20th. The Art Nouveau style bits in this particular example are seen in the glazed shell-shape doorway awning and parts of the design of its wrought iron gateway and street fence, fragments of which are presented in the photomontage bellow.

Wrought iron doorway with shell-shape glazed awning, Little Paris style house dating from the late 1890s or early 1900s, Ploiesti (©Valentin Mandache)

Details of the Art Nouveau style elements adorning the gateway of a Little Paris style house (1890s - 1900s), 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.

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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.

The dancing Art Nouveau style graces of Mantuleasa quarter

This post is a teaser for tomorrow’s photography architectural tour in the Mantuleasa historic quarter of Bucharest at which you are all invited (meeting point in front of Bucharest Tourist Information office from within the University Subway area between 8.45am and 9.00am. The tour will take place between 9am and 12.00 and costs 35 lei (Romanian currency) each.

Bellow are two interesting Art Noveau style basrelief panels dating from the 1890s representing scenes with dancing graces, inspired from ancient Greek and Roman mythology, located in Mantuleasa area of Bucharest. The dancing graces motif was frequently encountered in Art Nouveau visual arts compositions, being promoted by greats such as the actress Sarah Bernhard, the painter Alphonse Mucha, so important for the Art Nouveau current, who used the beautiful Sarah Bernhard as his model, or the dramatist Edmond Rostand to cite just a few.

The panels presented here were produced, in my opinion, as a direct consequence of Sarah Bernhardt’s presence in the mid 1890s Bucharest when she and her theatre company performed widely acclaimed plays at the National Theatre that comprised dancing graces scenes and also because of the popularity of Edmond Rostand’s writings among the high society of Bucharest who at parties and gatherings in their palaces acted in his plays, clad in fairy costumes similar with those presented in these architectural panels. Even the then Queen Elizabeth of Romania and Marie, the Crown Princess, were known to have acted at the Royal Palace in such plays by Rostand.

Dancing graces, Art Nouveau style in Mantuleasa quarter, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The panel above shows a group of dancing graces, accompanied by music from a flute and tambourine in a scene imagined from the ancient classical mythology (dionysiac mysteries if we judge after the grape fruit used as headdresses or some kind of harvest festival).

Dancing graces, Art Nouveau style in Mantuleasa quarter, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The second Mantuleasa dancing graces panel presents a group of teenage looking female personages, holding each other and also carelessly revelling, accompanied by a Greek flute (syrinx) and tambourine, which somehow reminds me of the dionysiac initiation misteries from the great fresco at the Villa of the Misteries in Pompeii. I like the grace standing alone on the left hand side of the panel, which holds in her hand an open papyrus scroll, a personification Calliope, the muse of poetry, perhaps.

Dancing graces, Art Nouveau style in Mantuleasa quarter, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The photograph above shows the house hosting the two Art Nouveau style dancing graces panels from the Mantuleasa quarter of Bucharest. The overall architectural style of the house is a modest Beaux Arts, which is greatly enhanced by those wonderful basreliefs, constituting a reminder of the wonderful and creative years experienced by this city during the Fin de Siécle period.

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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.

Art Nouveau pavilion in Ocna Sibiului spa town

Ocna Sibiului (German: Salzburg; Hungarian: Vizakna) is a small spa town in historic Saxon Transylvania developed especially during the Victorian era, when the region was part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. Many of its hotels, restaurants and baths were designed in the Art Nouveau style, as is shown in the old postcard bellow (published in the early 1910s). I have not visited yet the place, but I understand that a number of those wonderful Art Nouveau edifices and decorations are still around and even “restored”, which in the context of today Romania should in fact mean aggressive restoration. I like the sight of the Saxon church bell-tower, pictured in the background of the postcard, rising over the old village and spa pavilion.

Art Nouveau style pavilion in Ocna Sibiului (old postcard, Valentin Mandache collection)

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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.

Round-like profile Art Nouveau doorway

Art Nouveau style doorway, Casa Dinu Lipatti (cca 1900s), Catargiu Blvd, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

Presented above is the well proportioned round-like profile Art Nouveau style doorway, crowned by an ample and expressive mascaron in the same style, adorning the Dinu Lipatti house in Bucharest. The building is a mixture of styles, including neo-rococo and even some Neo-Romanian elements, in which the Art Nouveau features predominate. The edifice is an early creation of architect Petre Antonescu, one of the most seminal Romanian architects, known especially for his grand Neo-Romanian style edifices. This particular building shows Antonescu’s versatility in many design genres at an early stage in his career.

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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.

Floral Art Nouveau style ceramic frieze

The photographs bellow detail an attractive and quite well preserved example of Art Nouveau frieze made up from high quality ceramic tiles that display a repetitive of what to me looks like a blue water lily motif (it could also be another flower species) adorning the street façade of one of The Small Theatre’s buildings in Bucharest. The overall style of the edifice is inspired from French c19th historicist styles (ie neo-baroque) that has seen better days before the crude renovations performed during of the last few decades of communism and post-comunism. The frieze is the most attractive decorative element of the building although is quite difficult to notice from the street level. The provenance of these tiles, looking at the typology of their Art Nouveau design, is, in my opinion, from an workshop located in the Austrian-Hungarian empire of that era, a neighbouring state of Romania with which it had close economic and cultural ties.

Floral Art Nouveau style ceramic frieze, "The Small Theatre" edifice, built in the early 1900, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

Floral Art Nouveau style ceramic frieze, "The Small Theatre" edifice, built in the early 1900, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

Floral Art Nouveau style ceramic frieze, "The Small Theatre" edifice, built in the early 1900, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

AFloral Art Nouveau style ceramic frieze, "The Small Theatre" edifice, built in the early 1900, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

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I endeavour through this daily series of 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 frieze with roses and fairies

Art Nouveau style frieze with two fairies among rose flowers and branches, early 1900s house, Rosetti Square area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The photograph above presents a rare for Bucharest Art Nouveau style frieze decorating a Fin de Siècle house from the central area of the city. It depicts two fairies, very popular mythical creatures in the children stories of the late Victorian era, making their way among densely packed rose flowers and branches. The overall impression is one of joy and ease, although the actual bad state of repair of the building and the utter neglect of its architectural decorations, by the proprietors and heritage authorities alike, dampen that feeling considerably.

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I endeavour through this daily series of 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.

Semicircular Neo-Romanian style window

Semicircle shape Neo-Romanian style window, house dating from early the 1930s, Piata Romana area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The semicircular window is a relatively frequent design element of the Neo-Romanian style houses, decorating usually the street side wall of the the living room. Its shape reminds of the origins of this style in the European Art Nouveau current that started to unfold in the last decade of the c19th, when national-romantic styles, such as the Neo-Romanian, were developed in many of the newly independent or emerging states across the continent. The semicircle shape and the two main mullions also indicate that the initial source of inspiration for this design is the Diocletian or thermal type window, first used in ancient Rome for the baths built by that emperor.

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I endeavour through this daily series of 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.

Burned down Art Nouveau style building

This once charming Art Nouveau building, dating from the end of the 1890s, has been ruined in a fire, during the property boom of the late 2000s in Bucharest. It is located in Lipscani, the old commercial quarter of Bucharest, an area that for a decade and a half after the fall of communism was left derelict by the city authorities, despite its obvious huge tourist  potential. During the last property boom, many historic buildings in the area were targeted by rapacious property developers for the valuable land plots  which they occupy. A favourite method of destruction, in order to obtain the much coveted demolition permit for historic buildings, was the arson, usually blamed on squatters who sometime occupied those properties. Lipscani has  started in the last two years to experience a sort of a renaissance as a place full of cafes and restaurants and it is just hopped that such an entrepreneur would revive or least save the beautiful Art Nouveau façade of this building. Bellow are recent photographs containing details of these rare for Bucharest type of ornaments.

Art Nouveau style building dating from the end of the 1890s, Lipscani area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

Art Nouveau style building dating from the end of the 1890s, Lipscani area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

Art Nouveau style building dating from the end of the 1890s, Lipscani area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

Art Nouveau style building dating from the end of the 1890s, Lipscani area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

Art Nouveau style building dating from the end of the 1890s, Lipscani area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

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I endeavour through this daily series of 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.

“Historic Houses of Romania” mentioned on EU’s Reseau Art Nouveau Network site

Dear readers,

I am delighted to tell you that the “Historic Houses of Romania“ blogsite is mentioned on one of the leading internet resources dedicated to the Art Nouveau style, the website Reseau Art Nouveau Network. This is a site developed under the EU’s auspices by institutions from a number of countries with a rich Art Nouveau heritage. Romania has only two mentions there, one of them being this blog, which can be found at the Links section scrolling down the list of countries to the entry for Romania.

Valentin Mandache, expert in Romania’s historic houses

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I endeavour through this daily series of daily 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 a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in sourcing the property, specialist research, planning permissions, restoration project management, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this weblog.

Vestiges of a round Art Nouveau doorway window

Art Nouveau style round doorway window vestiges, 1900s house, Louis Berthelot area, Bucharest (©Valenitn Mandache)

This is a bit of urban archaeology: I found hidden behind dense bush and tree branches the vestiges of a quite rare for Bucharest Art Nouveau style round doorway window that has seen better days many decades ago, during the period of La Belle Époque. It adorns a house built in the early 1900, now heavily altered and left neglected by its occupants. The property was confiscated by the communist regime from its rightful owners probably in the early 1950s and is inhabited ever since by poorly educated state tenants.

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I endeavour through this daily series of daily 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 a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in sourcing the property, specialist research, planning permissions, restoration project management, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this weblog.

Vestiges of a round Art Nouveau doorway window

Art Nouveau style round doorway window vestiges, 1900s house, Louis Berthelot area, Bucharest (©Valenitn Mandache)

This is a bit of urban archaeology: I found hidden behind dense bush and tree branches the vestiges of a quite rare for Bucharest Art Nouveau style round doorway window that has seen better days many decades ago, during the period of La Belle Époque. It adorns a house built in the early 1900, now heavily altered and left neglected by its occupants. The property was confiscated by the communist regime from its rightful owners probably in the early 1950s and is inhabited ever since by poorly educated state tenants.

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I endeavour through this daily series of daily 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 a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in sourcing the property, specialist research, planning permissions, restoration project management, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this weblog.

Evolution of the Neo-Romanian architectural style

Neo-Romanian houses showing this style's evolution over at least one decade and a half (ie early-'20s - mid-'30, Soseaua Viilor area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

I found the two Neo-Romanian houses pictured above as very instructive in showing the evolution of this style during a quite short period in the first part of the c20th, when technology innovations, new building materials and fashions gave a new dynamism to the Romanian architectural scene. The buildings are located next to each other, fronting the street, and therefore excellently placed for an outside observer to study their differences and style intricacies.

The building at the top is the earlier built one, dating probably from the early 1920s, possibly mid-1910s, just before Romania entered the Great War (1916). An elements which distinguishes it as being from that period is the heavy wall structure made mostly from brickwork, which afforded a limited number of window openings and just a single upper floor. Stylistically the house has many elements peculiar to the early Neo-Romanian style such as indentations mimicking the crenels of a fortress  and other citadel-like motifs seen on the veranda and top of the faux tower at the centre. Other early Neo-Romanian aspects are the Byzantine-Ottoman inspired window frames and arches as well as the chunky grapevine motif frieze, all echoing the Art Nouveau current popular in the previous decades. There are also elements borrowed from the Little Paris style (French c19th historicist architecture interpreted in a provincial manner in Fin de Siecle Romania) noticeable especially in the steep slope roof crowning the faux tower.

The second building, at the bottom of the photograph, belongs to the mid-1930s era, when the wider use of structural elements made from reinforced concrete afforded a much slender appearance and also a greater amount of fenestration, additional floor levels and a taller roof. Stylistically one can easily notice a departure from the Ottoman and Byzantine motifs (present here mostly in the ornamentation of the faux tower roof, most prominent such element being the beautiful finial that crowns that sector of the roof) toward the Art Deco. The syncretism between the Neo-Romanian and the Art Deco is especially displayed in the reticular ornamentation of the balcony fences and the aspect of the window frames.

These two buildings are a proof of the dynamism of the inter-war Romanian architectural scene and of the flexibility and adaptability of the Neo-Romanian style to evolving fashions, concepts and technologies.

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I endeavor through this daily series of daily 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 a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in sourcing the property, specialist research, planning permissions, restoration project management, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this weblog.