Wallachian Country Mansion – Conac

Mixture of architectural styles, with an emphasis on the Neo-Romanian order, in a grand 1910s country mansion from the Romanian province of Wallachia (©Valentin Mandache)

Romania has vast swathes of farming land, which were developed on a large scale starting with mid c19th once the Danube and the straits Bosphorus and Dardanelles waterways were freed from Ottoman control, allowing massive grain exports from the region to the industrial centres of Victorian Europe (see my article describing a Victorian barn from southern Romania built as part of that economic transformation). The local aristocrats and land owners administered their farms from impressive country mansions, called “conac” in Romanian, a word of Turkish origin (see a more extensive article about a typical such mansion: the Casota conac). The conacs were built in a variety of styles, according to the money available and the fashion of the period from French fin de siècle to Neo-Romanian and Art Deco. The interesting example in the image above boasts mainly a Neo-Romanian architecture, typical of 1910s with some French echoes, especially in the roof shape and ornaments. During the communist regime these mansions were confiscated and transformed in collective farm headquarters. Many were badly damaged, especially in the last 20 years of regime change in Romania, characterised by imperfect property legislation concerning the returning of property to the rightful owners. Some conacs are now on the market, but due to the huge property bubble of the last few years in Romania and immature market mentality of local property owners, have inflated, unrealistic prices, in many instances several times more expensive than c18th French châteaux or similar period mansions from Italy.

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I endeavor through this daily image series to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural 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 locating the property, specialist research, planning permissions, restoration project management, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contactpage of this weblog.

Daily Picture 11-Nov-09: Empty Shell of A Historic Building

The interior shell of a historic building, Bucharest

The interior shell of a historic building, Lipscani area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The photograph above was taken last February and, as I write, the building is more advanced in its construction. The developer intends to preserve the outer shell of the historic building, putting up an entire new structure in its interior. The image is, in my opinion, a text book representation of the initial stage of that process. The project represents one of the better facets of the recently passed property development boom in Romania’s capital, one that seeks to preserve certain features of the historic buildings. This example is unfortunately an extremely rare occurrence in a sea of bad taste among developers and a frenzy of destructive development projects and illegal demolition of heritage sites.

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I endeavor through this daily image series to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural heritage.

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

If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in locating 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.

Daily Picture 27-Sep-09: Early Art Deco Peasant Market Ornamental Panel

Matache Market decorative panel (©Valentin Mandache)

Art Deco decorative panel (end 1920s) above main entrance of Matache Market Hall, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

Bucharest is traditionally supplied with fresh agricultural products by the peasants farming in the vast countryside surrounding Romania’s capital. They sell their products in a number of markets throughout the city. One of the oldest and largest such place is Matache Market, located close to the main train station of the city, Gara de Nord, allowing easy access of peasants selling their products form further afield, even from as far as Transylvania. The market is still using many of its old 1920-’30s buildings, which although are in a very run down state, still display interesting early Art Deco elements peculiar to the industrial architecture of that era. The most conspicuous ornament is an early equivocal Art Deco style panel (see above) depicting a butcher at its centre and on both sides peasants in traditional dress unloading their products, a scene that has not changed very much and can still be witnessed live today, nearly a century later (©Valentin Mandache)

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I endeavor through this daily image series to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural heritage.

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

If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in locating 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.

Daily Picture 25-Sep-09: Industrial ‘Little Paris’ Architecture

Trajan Market Hall, one of the best examples of French inspired fin de siecle industrial architecture in Bucharest, recently renovated and restored (©Valentin Mandache)

Trajan Market Hall, one of the best examples of French inspired 19th c. 'fin de siècle' industrial architecture in Bucharest, recently renovated and restored (©Valentin Mandache)

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

I endeavor through this daily image series to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural heritage.

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

If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in locating 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.

Daily Picture 25-Sep-09: Industrial 'Little Paris' Architecture

Trajan Market Hall, one of the best examples of French inspired fin de siecle industrial architecture in Bucharest, recently renovated and restored (©Valentin Mandache)

Trajan Market Hall, one of the best examples of French inspired 19th c. 'fin de siècle' industrial architecture in Bucharest, recently renovated and restored (©Valentin Mandache)

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

I endeavor through this daily image series to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural heritage.

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

If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in locating 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.

VICTORIAN BARN: an interesting example from southern Romania

Toward the end of the 19th century, Romania became one of the main European grain exporters, in close competition with the producers of Southern Russia (the Black Sea steppe). It was a direct result of the Crimean and the 1877-’78 Russian-Turkish wars that resulted in unencumbered international access to the waterways of the Danube, the Black Sea and the Bosporus straight, which opened again the trade routes of the region for first time since the Ottoman conquest, four centuries before.

The extraordinary demand from the industrialised countries of the Victorian Western Europe for large quantities of grains, made possible an unprecedented economic and cultural flourishing in Romania and from that period dates most of the picturesque French inspired architecture of Bucharest (what I call the “Little Paris” style) and of many other Romanian provincial towns.

The industrial architecture is another chapter of that development, seen today in the old barns that dot the countryside and the peculiar Victorian industrial buildings of the steam engine mills from the grain exporting ports on the Danube.

Peasants & crop transports waiting their turn to an industrial steam mill, 1899 Braila, Romania (Valentin Mandache collection)

Peasants with crop transports waiting their turn to an industrial steam mill, 1899 Braila, Romania (early postcard, Valentin Mandache collection)

I found during my fieldwork an excellent example of a surviving 19thcentury barn in a village in Gorj county, south-western Romania.

Historic 19th century barn, Oltenia region (©Valentin Mandache)

Historic 19th century barn, Oltenia region (©Valentin Mandache)

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