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)

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)

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

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 Contactpage of this weblog.

Greek God Statues on the Façade of the National Bank of Romania

The four allegorical Greek Gods statues on the façade of the National Bank of Romania dating from 1890, Lipscani, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

I detailed in an extensive earlier article the allegorical statues that embellish the 1890s sector façade of the National Bank of Romania in Bucharest. The above collage is made with the images of the Greek Gods that personify the economic activities and legal environment bringing wealth to Romania’s coffers in late Victorian period: Justice (Themis), Trade (Hermes), Industry (Hephaestos) si Agriculture (Demeter). They are made from a beautiful yellowish calcareous sandstone sourced in Rustchiuk (today Russe in Bulgaria) from quarries close by the right bank of the Danube. What I found very interesting is that the statues are modelled after local Romanian racial types, of men and women who lived in Bucharest and the surrounding area at the end of c19th, similar with the local human types seen in vintage Victorian era photographs.

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

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 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.

ALLEGORICAL SCULPTURES on the Building of Romania’s National Bank

The National Bank of Romania is located in the Lipscani historic quarter of Bucharest in a large neoclassical complex of buildings built in two stages: 1st in the 1880s and 2nd in the 1930s. The 19th century sector is in my opinion the more interesting and attractive one, boasting a worthy of note neoclassical style adorned with beautiful statues, seemingly inspired from French 17th century palaces.

The construction of that building was finished in 1890 under the direction of architect Nicolae Cerkez. The old postcard bellow dating from the first decade of the 20th century shows the bank in a surround setting which has not changed very much since its inauguration.

National Bank of Romania, 1910 postcard (Valentin Mandache collection)

The National Bank of Romania building (right hand side), 1900s postcard (Valentin Mandache collection)

The façade of the building, which is oriented to the south, is embellished with a series of allegorical sculptures inspired from the classical pantheon, symbolising the society and economy of Romania. Amazingly the sculptures still retain their initial freshness and sharpness after a century and two decades since they were affixed on the wall. That is because Bucharest has been much less affected by acid rains and corrosive pollution than other European capitals, as a result of the lower degree of industrialisation which the communist regime was able to achieve in Romania. The stone used for the façade and sculptures also seems of very good quality- a type of yellowish calcareous stone, which according to Romania’s National Bank website was brought from the area of Rustchuk, today Ruse in Bulgaria.

The top centre of the building is formed by a panoply composed by a coat of arms and clock flanked on the western side by a female deity symbolising Wisdom and the Sciences, represented measuring a globe with a compass and sitting on a stack of books. The usual goddess with these attributes is Pallas Athena, but it could well be another goddess from the Greek – Roman pantheon with similar attributes:

Allegory for Sciences, possibly goddess Pallas Athena. National Bank of Romania building (©Valentin Mandache)

On the eastern flank of the panoply is a male figure, again sitting on a stack of books, with a papyri scroll in his hands.

Continue reading