The neo-Romanian architectural style is one of the most original and strikingly beautiful orders that emerged in Europe during the intensely creative years of late Victorian-era. The Romanians of that period wanted to create a style that would reflect the glories of their medieval past in the transforming architectural landscape of their country, just as the British created decades earlier at a larger scale the better-known Victorian neo-Gothic architectural style.
It represents an interesting blend between eastern Byzantine elements together with local peasant architectural and ethnographic motifs, also particular patterns of Ottoman art and even late Italian Renaissance themes. The style began to be in vogue among the well-to-do Romanians with the first years of the 20th century in pre-WWI Romania, area known as the Old Kingdom, and spread also within Transylvania after the World War One once the province became part of Romania.
A typical neo-Romanian style property looks on lines similar with the following example,
Calea Calarasi, Bucharest
Here one can clearly detect the Byzantine architectural elements (i.e. short arches, thick and short columns, etc.) and the heavy, citadel-like aspect of the building, that all together represents a Romantic architectural metaphor intended by its creators to express the heroic resistance put by Romanians during medieval times as a Christian people against the relentless advance of the Ottoman Empire.
A neo-Romanian style house today is a valuable piece of property and a restoration project would be an extremely interesting and challenging, but rewarding endeavour.
The style reached its zenith during the inter-war period, with an abrupt end after the communist takeover in Romania in 1948. It has somehow been revived during the construction boom of the last decade, but in a minimalist modernist fashion, without the eclectic motifs and grandeur characteristic of the inter-war period.
I assembled here a few images from my postcard and photography collection, which together with short explanations would hopefully help you better appreciate the origins, characteristics, importance and value in artistic and period property market terms of this sophisticated architectural style peculiar to Romania.
Romanians are at their origins a nation of peasant farmers and shepherds. Their dwellings had basic decorations that were mainly ethnographic symbols characteristic to ancient aboriginal European communities that survived in less accessible areas of the continent (for example the Romanian ethnography has many motifs strikingly similar to the Celtic Irish, Pyrenees or Caucasian mountains communities). The house usually served immediate and very practical concerns for a people having to scrap a living in a harsh environment. A typical poor peasant dwelling form the region of the southern plains looked like in the illustration bellow, taken sometime at the end of 19th century.
Ancestral type peasant dwelling