Princess’ Nest: a royal tree house in the Transylvanian Alps

Princess’ Nest, Princess Marie of Romania’s tree house in Sinaia. Old post-card (1900s), Valentin and Diana Mandache collection.

Queen Marie of Romania is well known for her multiple artistic qualities, ranging from writing, furniture design to theatre. She also indulged in architectural pursuits, especially in matters of interior design (see her remarkable creations at Pelishor Castle in the Transylvanian Alps for example) or gardening, ideas which she condensed in an interesting essay published in the 1920s, entitled “My Dream-Houses“. Somehow less known is a peculiar tree house structure, illustrated in the old post-card above, built following Marie’s detailed specifications, which she used for recreation in the years when was a crown princess of the Romanian Kingdom. It was known as “Princess’ Nest”, located on the property of the grand Pelesh Royal Castle in Sinaia. Bellow is the finest description of this phantasy house, which I so far found  in my research, by Maude Parkinson, an expert gardener from England who worked for many years in the service of the Romanian Royal House:

In the neighbouring forest Princess Marie, as she then was, had a “Crusoe” constructed. I understand that she adopted the idea from a celebrated arboreal restaurant in the Forest Fontainebleau, which is named after the castaway of Juan Fernandez.

A strong wooden platform was constructed amongst the trees at a considerable height from the ground, and upon this was built a house consisting of two rooms, a kitchen, and a salon.

The kitchen is fitted up with everything necessary for cooking simple dishes or preparing tea. The salon is very prettily furnished, and books in plenty, drawing and painting materials, etc., are always to be found there.

The Queen only takes her special friends to visit her “Crusoe” and a very charming retreat it is. The windows and open door command a most beautiful view. Access to the “Crusoe” is gained by means of a ladder with wide steps, which is let down when required. When the visitors are safely up, they remain there shut in three sides by foliage and cut off from communication with the world bellow save by telegraph, for a wire connects it with the palace. Nothing disturbs the perfect calm and quiet at such a height, and many pleasant hours have been spent by her Royal Highness and a chosen few in that little nest. Nest is indeed the word, for that is the meaning of the Roumanian name “cuib” by which the retreat is generally known.

Maude Parkinson, “Twenty years in Roumania”, London 1921

HRH The Princess Sophie of Romania and her Deep Love for Photography

This article has initially been published in Diana Mandache’s blog on Royal History.

Romania tomorrow, 10 May 2011, celebrates 130 years since the coronation of King Carol I and Queen Elizabeth as the first sovereigns of the Kingdom of Romania, an event which marked the inauguration of the most prosperous period in the country’s history, an era when a majority of its historic architecture edifices were built. That epoch of great achievements and organic development was cut short by the communist takeover of December 1947, which gave way to a long and catastrophic decline from which the country has not yet recovered.

Courtesy of HRH Princess Sophie of Romania

H.R.H. The Princess Sophie of Romania is the fourth daughter of King Michael of Romania. She goes by “Sophie de Roumanie” professionally. Princess Sophie studied Fine Arts at the University of North Carolina, Asheville, and Graphic Design and Photography at the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, D.C.

After several years of working and exhibiting her art successfully on both sides of the Atlantic, Princess Sophie’s life changed radically in 1989 with the fall of communism in Romania.

She committed herself to assisting the people of Romania, especially the children, in their struggle to emerge from decades of tyranny.

Princess Sophie’s first book, a collection of stories for children was published in Romania in 1995, (Copilul Soarelui – Editura Dali) and she donated all the proceeds to the Princess Margarita of Romania Foundation of which she was Vice-President.

Over the years, Princess Sophie has dedicated herself to refining her photography. She currently lives in France with her daughter where she pursues her craft full time. Princess Sophie sells her art online, through private commissions and exhibitions.
Along with several other talented artists, Her Royal Highness will be exhibiting some of her photographs at the Château de Tronjoly in Brittany. The exhibition runs from the 4th to the 13th June 2011.
Princess Sophie has also published two photography books, on sale exclusively online, one of which is the first of a series:
“Along The Flowers’ Way”
An uplifting bilingual English and French book. Delightful in its simplicity. The perfect combination of inspirational words and gentle close-up photographs of the flowers around us. So often we are in such a rush in life that we do not take the time we need to stand and stare, to ponder our direction. A breath of fresh air in our eternal hurry to get through each day.
In « Along The Flowers’ Way » we have the perfect inspirational book for that special gift, or to place in a corner of your home where a page can be turned in a quiet moment, giving your day that special uplift. The nod, the smile that makes life worthwhile.
Further titles in this series are forthcoming.
“When Nature Calls”

H.R.H The Princess Sophie of Romania, who goes by “Sophie de Roumanie” professionally, is deeply passionate and committed to her craft. Whether it is a photograph of the dawn shrouded in a foggy mist or the quiet expression on a cat’s face, Sophie’s photographs are magical and enchanting, and they touch the hearts of those who view them.
Nature is a treasure trove of wonderment. Most people don’t take the time to stop and see all the beauty in nature that surrounds us. Yet through Princess Sophie’s photographs, we have the privilege to see the intriguing, elusive and mysterious beauty that nature holds. Her Royal Highness hopes that through her photographs we will be reminded of just how precious nature is.
“When Nature Calls” is an exclusive collection of some of Princess Sophie’s photographs taken over the last 3 years, along with complementary quotes introducing each section of the book.

For further information on these books and on the Princess’ exhibition, please visit her blog:

http://aphotognamedsophie.blogspot.com/

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All rights reserved Diana Mandache’s Weblog: Royal History

Fin de Siècle Romanian royal wedding and architecture

Because the whole planet seems now captivated by the recent wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, now Duchess of Cambridge, I thought it would be a good idea to post an article touching the subject of historic Romanian architecture in the context of another wedding, more than a century ago, involving Romanian royals. Bellow is a very rare old postcard depicting the official cavalcade accompanying Marie, the Princess of Edinburgh, freshly made a Princess of Romania through the marriage with Crown Prince Ferdinand, when she first arrived, after the marriage ceremony and honeymoon, in her adopted country on the 24 January (4 Feb.- Julian calendar) 1893. Marie’s coach is seen acclaimed by Bucharest’s citizens, passing by two of the city’s architectural landmarks of the late Victorian era: the Unirii Market Hall (in the background), a large and beautiful iron frame structure similar with the ubiquitous Les Halles Centrales found in many of the late c19th French towns and the majestic Beaux Arts style building of the Brancovensc Hospital Establishment (in the foreground). Both these wonderful edifices, so important for Bucharest’s identity, were savagely demolished by the communist authorities in the mid-1980s, during dictator Ceausescu’s infamous vast and architecturally coarse remodelling of large areas of central Bucharest for his infamous “Victory of Socialism” project. That area is today full of ugly and badly maintained massive communist apartment blocks, which are also among the most expensive properties in Romania’s capital- a measure of the dismal level of culture and confused identity of the post-communist inhabitants of this city.

The arrival of Princess Marie of Edinburgh/ Romania in Bucharest, in Feb (Julian calendar) 1893, passing by the Brancovenesc Hospital building and Unirii Market Hall (old postcard dated 1901, undivided back, Diana & Valentin Mandache collection)

For more information on Queen Marie of Romania see “Marie of Romania. Images of a Queen” by Diana Mandache, Rosvall Royal Books, 2007.

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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 Contact page of this weblog.

“The Crown of Romania”, a documentary film produced by Sahia Studios

This is a trailer from the documentary film entitled “Coroana Romaniei” (“The Crown of Romania”), directed by Marian Baciu from Sahia Studios in Bucharest, produced in 2010. The author of this blog  presents within the section dedicated to His Majesty King Michael, together with the historian Diana Mandache who also details the reigns of King Carol I and Carol II. King Ferdinand and his achievements are likewise surveyed.

King Michael of Romania’s Christmas 2010 Message (via Romania Altfel)

 

King Michael of Romania’s Christmas 2010 message (via Romania Altfel. A blog by Prince Radu of Romania)click the image above to access the article [in Romanian].