Images from today’s architectural walking tour in Patriarchy Hill area of Bucharest

Images from today's architectural walking tour in Patriarchy Hill area of Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

Images from today’s walking tour, showing samples of historic architecture typical of Bucharest, from Little Paris style, to Neo-Romanian, Art Deco or diverse ecclesiastical architectures, of intense picturesqueness, and many of them of a good quality design, found within the Patriarchy Hill area of Romania’s capital.

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“Insured” Little Paris style house

Some of Bucharest’s period houses still boast their picturesque insurance plates, as is the case of the dwelling presented bellow. These started to appear in a noticeable number during the first decade of the c20th, once the city adopted proper urban planning rules and developed a fire service able to cover the whole area of the city. It was a sign of civic responsibility and also of status, because paying insurance rates was something which only a minority of the citizens could afford in those times.

Insurance plate on a Little Paris style house, dating from 1912, Patriarchy Hill area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The insurance of a house was very advisable in Bucharest, a crowded city, with many wooden structures, which already faced a devastating conflagration, the Great Fire of Bucharest of 1847. Once a proprietor insured his house, the insurance company affixed a metallic plate with the company logo on the street façade of the edifice. The lettering style and spelling of Bucharest’s name are typical for the 1890s – 1910s period.

Little Paris style house, dating from 1912, with an insurance plate affixed on the street façade, Patriarchy Hill area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The building is wagon type house and dates from 1912, as inscribed on its pediment, a prosperous year for Romania, after the great world recession of 1907 and just before the Second Balkan War in which Romania participated directly. That brief period of prosperity and solid urban and architectural development went up in smoke during the expensive Balkan conflagration and the immensely more devastating First World War, when Bucharest fell under the occupation of the Central Power armies.

"Insured" Little Paris style house with the building date on its entrance pediment: 1912, Patriarchy Hill area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The construction year of the house, 1912, inscribed on its entrance pediment is contemporary with the period when the lettering style of the insurance plate and and the way how Bucharest’s name is spelled was in use.

"Insured" Little Paris style house, dating from 1912, Patriarchy Hill area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The well designed Little Paris style house and its insurance plate described in this article constitute a bit of a bright spot within the uneven and precarious historical development of this city and country, located in one of the most unstable geopolitical regions of c20th Europe.

Versiunea in limba romana la: http://casedeepoca.wordpress.com/2011/07/25/casa-in-stil-mic-paris-asigurata/

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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 Contactpage of this weblog.

Patriarchy Hill area: images from last Sunday’s architectural history & photo tour

Patriarchy Hill area: architectural history & photo tour, 17 July '11 (©Valentin Mandache)

The tour benefited from an unexpectedly breezy weather for this period of the year, which energized even more the enthusiasm of the participants in discovering the architectural intricacies of the edifices that make up the “Acropolis” of Bucharest and its surrounding maize of streets. The Patriarchy Hill contains the oldest buildings in use of Romania’s capital, with fragments datable from the c16th, making up the religious centre and administrative complex of the Romanian Orthodox Church Patriarchate, the institution that heads the main faith of this country. The small private residences sprinkled around the hill are in general in the Little Paris style, popular in the second half of the c19th, when the area was the very heart of the city and of entire Romania, hosting its secular (the Parliament) and temporal centres. The high prestige associated with the buildings in and around the Patriarchy Hill made them architectural models followed by craftsmen and architects in designs implemented in other quarters of Bucharest. We thus had an excellent opportunity to do some interesting “architectural archaeology” reviewing many of the surviving remains of this once illustrious part of the city, now in noticeable decline as in the last one hundred years, Bucharest’s economic, political and cultural centre has slowly moved toward the north. I trust that the participants enjoyed this nostalgic and also intellectual encounter with buildings that in many aspects comprise the essence of what once named the Little Paris of the Balkans! :)

Patriarchy Hill area: architectural history & photo tour, 17 July '11 (photo: Ioana Novac)

Tour participants and guide admiring and photographing some of the exquisite Barncovan style architectural details, some dating from the mid-c17th, used as archetype by the modern era Neo-Romanian style  designers, which embellish the Patriarch’s Palace.

Patriarchy Hill area: architectural history & photo tour, 17 July '11 (photo: Romulus Andrei Bena, http://www.prieteniiscoliicentrale.wordpress.com)

The undersigned giving explanations to tour participants about the picturesque Little Paris style dwellings located on United Principalities street, one of the former high prestige address areas of Bucharest in the c19th, before the centre of government and industry shifted to the north outskirts once the city developed strong trade links with Central and Western Europe, diminishing those with the former Ottoman world to the south.

Valentin Mandache, expert in Romania’s historic houses

!!! The next Sunday (24 July ’11, 9am-12.00) architectural history and photography tour will take place in Gara de Nord historic quarter, north-west-central Bucharest (see a map at this link); meeting point: Gara de Nord tube station (in front of the exit that faces, is closest to, the Railway Workers Monument). I look forward to seeing you there !!!

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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.

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

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.