iPhone photo of the day: Marmorosch Blank Bank’s doorway maker

Marmorosch Blank Bank's doorway maker (©Valentin Mandache)

I found another old architectural ironwork company plate, this one one the grand doorway of the Neo-Romanian style Marmorosch Blank Bank building in Lipscani area of Bucharest. The plate reads as “J. Haug, Str. Isvor, No. 8, Bucuresci”, the spelling indicating the writing fashions of the 1910s, which corresponds with the period when the building was erected. The metalwork is of highest quality and is easily restorable, although the edifice, one of the most magnificent Neo-Romanian style architectures still in existence, is now left derelict in the very centre of Romania’s capital, in danger of irreversible deterioration, a telling testimony of the lack of care and even awareness of the Romanian authorities and public about their diminishing architectural heritage.

iPhone photo of the day: St. Catherine’s Church, Bucharest

St. Catherine Church, Patriarchy Hill area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

This is St. Catherine’s Church (Biserica Sfanta Ecaterina) in Bucharest’s Patriarchy Hill area (I organised an architectural tour a couple of weeks ago there), which as a place of worship dates from the c16th, but the actual building is from the early 1850s. It is in a provincial neo-baroque style, a quite sporadic design for a church of Byzantine rite, epitomizing the process of modernisation and Europeanisation of the Romanian society of that era, following the national revolutions of 1848 and drive toward modern nation building and independence from the Ottoman Empire, the erstwhile oriental overlord of this region. The iPhone photo has been perspective corrected in Lightroom and cross-processed in Picassa, giving it this interesting vintage postcard aspect. That impression is charmingly enhanced by the exposed brick facade produced by the current restoration works.

iPhone photo of the day: CEC building perspective

This is one of the classical vistas in Bucharest: CEC bank headquarters (architect Paul Gottereau 1900, Beaux Arts – “Paris train station” style), seen from the Stavropoleos church (late Brancovan style, 1724). One can immediately notice here the benefits of the recent pedestrianisation of the area. Bucharest would be a much more comfortable town to live and create if the local authorities would enforce the car parking rules, get rid of the maze of cables hangings over from street poles at every step and plant more trees in parks and on the streets. With those three simple measure, Romania’s capital would become a truly pleasant place, as this image abundantly testifies.

CEC building perspective, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

iPhone photo of the day: August Treboniu Laurian’s bust statue

August Treboniu Laurian's statue, Matei Basarb area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The bust statue of August Treboniu Laurian (1810 – 1881), one of the personalities of the Romanian 1848 national revolution in Transylvania and a prominent linguist and historian of that era. He belonged to the latinist current, which militated for the purification of the Romanian language of non-Latin words, which resulted in laughable dictionaries and rules of writing and pronunciation. Laurian came to settle in Bucharest in the later part of his life and is known to have been the Romanian language tutor of Prince Carol, the future King Carol I, a native of the German lands, appointed in 1866 through a plebiscite on the throne of the then United (Danubian) Principalities. Today the statue is left unmaintained, in an architecturally disfigured area of the city following the wild property boom of the mid-2000s (see the once beautiful mature phase Neo-Romanian style in the background now “adorned” with cheap metal tile imitation roofing), suffocated by adverts about fast food restaurants, car insurance and translation services, typical of the low cultural level and lack of respect for heritage displayed by a majority of contemporary Romanians.

iPhone photo of the day: Ion Heliade Radulescu’s funerary monument

This is the Neo-Romanian style (mature phase) funerary monument of Ion Heliade Radulescu (1802 – 1872), placed in 1913 over his grave, in the courtyard of Mavrogheni church, Bucharest. Ion Heliade Radulescu has been one of the main promoters of Romanian national culture in the period of the 1848 revolutions in Europe; he was instrumental in the switch of the script in which the Romanian language was rendered from Cyrillic to Latin.

Ion Heliade Radulescu's funerary monument, 1913 ((c)Valentin Mandache)

iPhone photo of the day: ironwork manufacturer’s name plate

The picturesque name plate of the best and largest ironwork manufacturer in Bucharest of La Belle Epoque period, adorning a shop roller shutter, which dates from the 1900s, Lipscani area. “F. Weigel” is also famous for its flamboyant gates, street fences, pear shaped balconies, balustrades and doorways.

Ironwork manufacturer name plate, Lipscani, Bucharest ((c)Valentin Mandache)

iPhone photo of the day: the communist heroes’ mausoleum

This is the most beautiful architectural creation of the communist era in Romania: the communist heroes’ mausoleum (finised in 1963) where once stood the Palace of Arts of the 1906 Royal Jubilee Exhibition. It was designed by Horia Maicu and Nicolae Cucu, two outstanding architects, formed in inter-war Romania, with in depth experience of another architecture of power, the fascist style (Mussolinian) of the late 1930s, skills easily employable in the conditions of the subsequent communist dictatorship.

Communist heroes' mausoleum, 1963, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

iPhone photo of the day: the communist heroes’ mausoleum

This is the most beautiful architectural creation of the communist era in Romania: the communist heroes’ mausoleum (finised in 1963) where once stood the Palace of Arts of the 1906 Royal Jubilee Exhibition. It was designed by Horia Maicu and Nicolae Cucu, two outstanding architects, formed in inter-war Romania, with in depth experience of another architecture of power, the fascist style (Mussolinian) of the late 1930s, skills easily employable in the conditions of the subsequent communist dictatorship.

Communist heroes' mausoleum, 1963, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

iPhone photo of the day

Actually I shot the picture  yesterday with my new iPhone 4S. I am an admirer of Steve Jobs, who is among my pantheon of worthies, and his business philosophy of creating products that are at the intersection between technology and humanities. The blog “Historic Houses of Romania”, my architectural history online videos and other projects involving the internet are endeavours of putting the Romanian period architecture within the coordinates of that vision. The present iPhone handset is the first piece of Apple technology which I was able to afford, taking advantage of a good offer from my mobile phone carrier. It is just sheer delight to use this technological and aesthetic marvel in my hands and imaginatively operate it to spreading the word about the historic houses of Romania. That is even more significant for me as the iPhone 4S was among the last creations completed under the overseeing and intellectual input of the late Steve Jobs.

The picture shows the front of Romania’s chief school of architecture, the University of Architecture “Ion Mincu” in Bucharest,a grand Neo-Romanian style facade, the most flamboyant in existence, and an open encyclopaedia of that architectural design peculiar to Romania and its adjacent regions.

University of architecture Ion Mincu, Bucharest, Valentin Mandache