Autumnal sky and clouds rushing over Antim Monastery, Bucharest

This is a small sample from Bucharest’s environmental identity: one of the city’s old churches, Antim Monastery, with its majestic cupola towers set against the beautiful autumnal blue sky, peppered with fast moving patches of clouds, so peculiar to this latitude, mid-way between the North Pole and the Equator, in continental Europe.

Bucharest ant superhighway

This is a sample of Bucharest’s environmental identity, a metropolis in south east Europe located midway between the North Pole and the Equator, with a temperate continental climate. We had quite an Indian Summer this October 2012 in Romania’s capital, with some apple or chestnut trees flowering again, or ant colonies, such as is the case here, being highly energized to look for food or change the place of their colony, when they should normally prepare for hibernation. Is this another proof that there is a climate change process going on?

Romanian landscape seen from the train’s rear

An evocative, although apparently placid, landscape in southern Romania in the environs of Bucharest, filmed from a slow moving passenger train’s rear. The region is called the Lower Danube Prairie, similar in geography and climate with the prairie around the Great Lakes on the North American continent.

Pigeon and Neo-Romanian rooftop finial

Neo-Romanian style finial (house from the late 1920s) and pigeon, Dorobanti area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

Pigeons, such as the one in the animated image above, shown next to an imposing Neo-Romanian style rooftop finial, are in my opinion an organic part of the message and ornamentation of period houses. Pigeons are among the “environmental panoply” that adorns those edifices, together with with other animals, which in Bucharest’s case number sparrows, crows, swallows and their nests, sometimes gulls, red squirrels or from the plants’s world ivy and grape vines, high climbing roses or multicoloured flower plants beckoning passers by from window sill and balcony jardinières.

Neo-Rococo finial, pigeons and winter sky in Bucharest

I shot this photograph today, late afternoon, in Lipscani quarter of Bucharest, finding it evocative for the city’s atmosphere in wintertime. I like the contrast between the grey sky, fluffy-feathered pigeons, and suggestion of a forthcoming torrid summer conveyed by the two classical mythology personages that adorn the great cupola finial of an old shopping arcade, which dates from the La Belle Époque period.

Neo-Rococo finial, pigeons and winter sky in Lipscani quarter, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

“Neo-Romanian” winter landscape

Bucharest contemplates now the aftermath of the heavy snowfall that blanketed the city in the last few days. The hibernal landscape is very picturesque, giving new perspectives on the local architecture. Bellow are three photographs of Neo-Romanian style houses, for you to sample that kaleidoscope of perceptions, which I took yesterday, fresh after the epic whiteout. The first image presents a Neo-Romanian style street fence, where the poles are in the shape of short columns typical of that order, crowned by capitals doubling in normal weather conditions as jardinières. Now they are topped up by by sugarloaf-like snow accumulations indicating that the precipitation happened in quiet, windless conditions. The second photograph shows a Neo-Romanian roof finial, emerging as the only clearly recognisable element on that snow capped roof. The third illustration depicts picturesque ample icicles adorning the roof edge of the Spiridon Ceganeanu house in Romana Square, one of the landmark Neo-Romanian style buildings of Bucharest.

A 1920s Neo-Romanian style street fence dating from the 1920a, Lascar Catargiu area, Bucharest, 14 Feb. 2012(©Valentin Mandache)

A 1920s Neo-Romanian roof finial, Lascar Catargiu area, Bucharest, 14 Feb. 2012 (©Valentin Mandache)

Neo-Romanian style house designed by arch. Spiridon Ceganeanu, built in 1913, Piata Romana area, Bucharest, 14 Feb. 2012 (©Valentin Mandache)

February blizzard in Bucharest

February 2012 blizzard in Bucharest: crow and water birds on the frozen surface of the Dambovita river (©Valentin Mandache)

February 2012 blizzard in Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

We had in Bucharest at this beginning of February, together with the rest of Eastern and Central Europe, a capricious freezing weather caused by a massive Siberian weather-front, which is a normal occurrence in wintertime in these parts of the the Eurasian continent. The Lower Danube prairie, where Bucharest is located, becomes in such instances a true part of Siberia, as these photograph that I shot a couple of days ago testify.

Sparrows at a Bucharest palace

Sparrows at the palace, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

I photographed the small flock of sparrows, seen above, during yesterday’s architectural history and photography tour, in front of the neo-rococo Cantacuzino Palace on Calea Victoriei, Bucharest. The birds are like a messenger of the changing of seasons period going on now at this latitude, with the autumn starting to be felt all around here at forty five degree north in continental Europe. These are juvenile house sparrows (Passer domesticus) judging after their plumage and dusty sullied look. The second one, from the right, was loudly singing, in tone with the music festival hosted by the building :) The huge stock of period houses in Bucharest, which are as a rule in a dreary state of repair, provide an excellent environment for these beautiful birds to nest and proliferate. They are thus an unassuming, but important part of city’s environmental identity, together with the crows or species of trees such as acacia or lime trees.

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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.

Bucharest high summer 2011 fruit and flowers

I have encountered in the last few days a few glorious sights of luxuriant fruit and flowers in Bucharest, a few photographs of which are presented bellow. This sort of wonderful natural spectacle was very common in this city before the communist industrialisation and construction of the huge quarters of grey and overwhelmingly ugly concrete apartment blocks built to house the huge workforce brought in from the countryside. Today the city still suffers form the same industrialisation no matter what syndrome, with still little regard for promoting, let alone expanding, the remaining green areas. Bucharest of yesteryears has been an Eden like place not only from the point of view of its historic architecture, but also because of its luxuriant trees, fruit and flowers.

Glorious cherry plums - Bucharest high summer 2011 fruit and flowers (photo: Valentin Mandache)

Half mature quinces, getting ready for the autumn harvest - Bucharest high summer 2011 fruit and flowers (photo: Valentin Mandache)

Exuberant flowers, species Albizia Julibrissin (info: Athena Dumitriu) or Persian Silk Tree, Bucharest high summer 2011 fruit and flowers (photo: Valentin Mandache)

Blossoming tree (see above for flower detail), species Albizia Julibrissin (info: Athena Dumitriu) or Persian Silk Tree - Bucharest high summer 2011 fruit and flowers (photo: Valentin Mandache)

First signs of spring in Bucharest

First signs of spring 2011 in Bucharest: a freshly awaken butterfly sunning himself on the front stairs of the National Museum of History of Romania on 25 March '11 at 11.00 GMT (©Valentin Mandache)

After a long and boringly cold winter, the spring has again been late to arrive this year in Bucharest, at 45 degree North latitude in continental Europe. Today it might be that elusive turning point toward the spring as I have been thrilled to discover and photograph the exquisitely beautiful butterfly pictured above. The creature was sunning itself to gather strength in the bright light of what looks as the first proper spring day of the year in Bucharest. I hope that this encounter is a good omen for the rest of the year!

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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.

The Crows of Bucharest

Crows coming home to roost :) in the early evening hours in the Kiseleff park Bucharest among a snowy landscape at -8C temperature. The whole scene is very evocative of Bucharest’s  environmental identity in winter and is typical to prairie/ steppe regions of Eastern Europe encountered from Romania, Ukraine to Russia.

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

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.