Balchik, a resort with Romanian royal connections on the shore of the Black Sea

Today most of the Romanian Black Sea shore is, with the exception of the Danube Delta area, a mostly uninteresting flat plain, dotted with large industrial facilities and grey communist era hotel and residential developments. However, the country had between 1913 – 1916 and 1918 – 1940 a southern rocky seaboard with spectacular vistas, which is now part of Bulgaria. In the inter-war period Queen Marie of Romania built there, in the port city of Balchik (the ancient Greek colony of Dionysopolis, founded in c7th BCE), her most remarkable holiday palace, endowed with a magnificent garden and a multitude of guest houses, over a period stretching a decade, from 1927 to 1936. Some of the best Romanian architects of the time contributed with their creations, such as Emil Gunes or Henriette Delavrancea Gibory. Taking the queen’s example, many well to do Romanians also erected summer residences of a superb architectural quality that are still in large part in place and well looked after. The coast around Balchik faces the south and is protected behind by a series of rocky hills and cliffs from the cold winds and winter weather that come over the open Pontic steppe from as far as Siberia and menaces most of the rest of the country.

The inter-war period has thus been a glorious time for Balchik, which saw the wealthy spending summers in the luxury of their seashore villas, and the emergence of a remarkable painters’ and writers’ colony that took advantage of the glorious southern sunlight, appealing coastal landscape and enjoying the picturesque and welcome of the local community that was in important part Turkish, Tatar and Bulgarian.

Balcic - villa Tenha Yuvah - Diana Mandache collection

Balchik – villa Tenha Yuvah (Turkish for “Quiet Nest”) within the Royal Palace grounds – Diana Mandache collection

Queen Marie and her family spent many a great summer holiday at her palace and gardens in Balchik, taking pleasure fast boat rides along the shore. Everything exuded the happiness and well-being peculiar of that period of history, much the same as other European aristocrats, wealthy individuals or famous artists enjoyed places in the Mediterranean or the Gulf of Mexico.

Romanian Royals enjoying a boat ride, Balcic - Diana Mandache collection

Romanian Royals enjoying a boat ride, Balchik – Diana Mandache collection

Remarkable for Balchik and the times when Marie put it on the holiday map as an idyllic place, was the worlds apart contrast of life and aspirations with the Soviet Union’s Black Sea shore communities, over the not far away border. Balchik’s flourishing years as a royal resort overlap with Stalin’s party purges, the killing and sending to prison of countless wretched souls. Romania in less than a decade after Marie built her seaside palace became one of its first victims.

This post was initially published on Diana Mandache’s weblog under our joint authorship.

New exhibition by HRH The Princess Sophie of Romania

Following the success H.R.H. The Princess Sophie enjoyed during her exhibitions during the summers of 2011 and 2012 at the Chateau de Tronjoly, Her Royal Highness will be showing again. This new exhibition will run the entire month of March and will concentrate on the Breton landscapes in the style that her clients have become familiar with and from which Princess Sophie has gained much success. This is the first Exhibition of the year that The Princess will be having, but not the last. Her Royal Highness has started a busy year and is pursuing several projects, one of which is a second exhibition for 2013 running the months of May and June.

ASR Principesa Sofia a Romaniei: Noua Expozitie Fotografica – martie 2013

The announcement is rebloged from Royal History – Diana Mandache’s weblog: http://royalromania.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/new-exhibition-by-hrh-the-princess-sophie-of-romania/

HM King Michael of Romania – 91st birthday, 25 October 2012

Today is the 91st birthday of HM King Michael of Romania!

Bellow is the article in the British monthly magazine “Majesty” published last year, authored by Diana and the undersigned celebrating His Majesty’s life and achievements:

Article on King Michael of Romania in Majesty Magazine with the occasion of his 90th birthday

Bellow is the article in the British monthly magazine “Majesty” published in their October 2011 issue, authored by Diana and the undersigned with the occasion of the celebration of King Michael of Romania‘s 90th birthday on 25 October last year.

Soon to be published… (via Jurnal de istoric)

From the royal historian Diana Mandache- a new book soon to be printed in Sweden and distributed in many West European countries and on the North American continent- it contains the correspondence between Marie Alexandrovna, Grand Duchess of Russia, Duchess of Edinburgh and of  Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and her daughter Marie, the Crown Princess of Romania.

In curand... … noua mea carte ‘Dearest Missy’ per aspera… … Read More

via Jurnal de istoric

The White Hall, Cotroceni Royal Palace, Bucharest

The White Hall, Cotroceni Royal Palace, Bucharest

An inclusive descritpion, in Romanian, by the historian Diana Mandache (Fotescu), written in 1992, of the White Hall from Cotroceni Royal Palace in Bucharest. The hall is known today as Cerchez Hall after the architect who re-designed it in the 1920s. The great reception room became a source of inspiration for architects who applied its design principles to  their inter-war Neo-Romanian style projects.

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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 history and 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 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.

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].

Book launch event: “Royal Cookbook” by Princess Margarita of Romania

HRH Princess Margarita of Romania has launched last Saturday, at the “Gaudeamus book fair” in Bucharest, among a wide acclaim from the public and considerable interest from the press, her new book on culinary subjects. The volume is entitled “Royal Cookbook” [“Carte regala de bucate” in Romanian] and is produced by the Curtea Veche publishing house.

"Royal Cookbook" by Princess Margarita of Romania

The book is a true work of love, the result of personal searches, culinary experiences, encounters and contributions from an important number of European royals with whom the Princess is related or in close friendship. The great distinction of this volume is represented by the small vignettes charmingly portraying its contributors, people from the immediate family like HM King Michel, HM Queen Anne and HRH Prince Radu’s mother to Archduke Georg of Austria or Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan. The vignettes interposed between enticing cooking recipes are excellent devices for communicating to the reader the culinary tastes and firsthand glimpses of the daily life and aspirations of HRH Princess Margarita’s family and friends. I very much like the concise and precise writing style of the author, which makes the book a breeze to read and reveals without doubt the leadership genes shared by the princess with her ancestors, distinguished sovereigns of Romania. The Curtea Veche publishing house is to be commended for its acumen in publishing this wonderful book.

"Royal Cookbook" by Princess Margarita of Romania

Sharing and talking about food is one of the most convivial human activities, which bring together groups and individuals, managing to break otherwise insurmountable barriers between them. Through this brilliant book, written in a straight forward manner, communicating with ease its hospitality message, the Romanian Royal House has scored very high mark public relations points, which in the more usual daily life circumstances would have necessitated a considerably greater effort and expense. The volume thus represents a direct link with the public that brings the monarchy closer to the people, further blowing away the smokescreen put between them by the uncongenial press and politicians.

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Diana and I were among the numerous public that listened to the introductory speech of HRH Princess Margarita at the book fair. The area occupied by the bookstands seemed too small to hold such an enthusiastic crowd that surged forward, with people stepping over each others’ toes to catch a glimpse of the author and get an autograph. As historians, we had thus a delightful opportunity to feel and observe at first hand the huge interest and positive emotion generated by this remarkable event.

Valentin Mandache