Art Nouveau pavilion in Ocna Sibiului spa town

Ocna Sibiului (German: Salzburg; Hungarian: Vizakna) is a small spa town in historic Saxon Transylvania developed especially during the Victorian era, when the region was part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. Many of its hotels, restaurants and baths were designed in the Art Nouveau style, as is shown in the old postcard bellow (published in the early 1910s). I have not visited yet the place, but I understand that a number of those wonderful Art Nouveau edifices and decorations are still around and even “restored”, which in the context of today Romania should in fact mean aggressive restoration. I like the sight of the Saxon church bell-tower, pictured in the background of the postcard, rising over the old village and spa pavilion.

Art Nouveau style pavilion in Ocna Sibiului (old postcard, Valentin Mandache collection)

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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.

Daily Picture 27-Feb-09: Art Deco Spa Building in Saxon Transylvania

The 1929 Art Deco style of the 'mud-bath" pavilion in Bazna spa town (Baussen in local German dialect) in Saxon Transylvania, central Romania. (old postcard, Valentin Mandache collection)

Bazna is located in the region known as Saxon Transylvania, traditionally inhabited by ethnic Germans from the c12th until c20th. This industrious and highly civilized community was forced to emigrate during the communist period to West Germany because of the harsh economic conditions and unbearable nationalist policies against ethnic minorities of the state of Romania. This is also an important natural gas producing area, known as the Transylvanian salt domes region, endowed with a geology that contains large such hydrocarbure deposits, which in the inter-war period made Romania one of the main European gas producers and today makes this EU region much less dependent on the capricious Russian gas supply. That complex geology favoured the development of an important spa resort town in Bazna during the Victorian period, when the area was within the confines of the Habsburg Empire. The old post card above shows the mud-bath pavilion (“Schlammbad” in German) during the brief inter-war flourishing of the local German community. It is built in an attractive minimalist, essential early Art Deco style (the year 1929 as is mentioned on the central tower). I like the “Salve” inscription on the pediment of the Art Deco doorway which greets the customers, a typical cheerful spa town decorative artefact used since the Roman times. The photograph is a glimpse of a long gone happy epoch reflected in architecture. Bazna nowadays is littered with ugly modern buildings of uncouth architecture, a consequence of the wild Romanian property boom of the last few years. It is also an expensive place, despite its run down infrastructure in terms of holiday resort. That makes even more poignant the contrast with the beautiful inter-war atmosphere and architecture depicted in the postcard above.

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I endeavor through this daily image series to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural 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 locating the property, specialist research, planning permissions, restoration project management, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contactpage of this weblog.

Daily Picture 19-Feb-10: Alpine Chalet in the Carpathian Mountains in the 1910s

Villa Cantacuzio in Calimanesti spa town, an Alpine type chalet very popular in pre-Great War Romania among wealthy Bucharest families. (old postcard, Valentin Mandache collection)

The Victorian era and the period until the Great War has seen the development of numerous spa towns in the Carpathian Mountains, the Alpine geology chain that straddles Romania on a length of over 1,000 km. I wrote a blogpost last week about the Sarata Monteoru spa town detailing this developmental process. The old post card above, dating from 1910s, shows a newly finished grand chalet, of an architectural type similar with contemporary examples form Switzeland or Southern Germany, located in Calimanesti spa town in the Transylvanian Alps (the southern section of the Carpathian Mountains). The house servants, local peasants among them, together with some of the owner’s family, the Romanian branch of the Byzantine imperial family of the Cantacuzene dinasty, pose for the photographer in front of the building. The villa is still standing nowadays, as many such buildings throughout Romania, but in a very precarious state because of the last two decades’ lack of maintenance, ownership disputes or affected by the usual unprofessional renovations, which are unfortunately the trademark of a majority of Romania’s post-communist historic house owners.

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I endeavor through this daily image series 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 locating 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.

Daily Picture 14-Feb-10: Spa Town Development Boom in Victorian Era Romania

Sarata-Monteoru spa town in South East Romania, developed by the great Monteoru aristocratic-commercial family in the 1880 - '90s, part of the boom period of spa town developments in late Victorian era Romania. (old postcard Valentin Mandache collection)

Endowed with a geographically diverse territory and the longest sector of the Carpathian Mountains (over 1,000 km length of alpine geology mountain chains), Romania is very propitious for the development of spa towns around the innumerable hot and mineral springs, among stunning natural scenery. The Roman Empire was the first to establish such spas on what is now the Romanian territory (ie the Herculane Spa town in SW Romania) and the occasion occurred again in the Victorian era Romania, 17 centuries later, in a time of peace and prosperity not encountered by this region since the Roman conquest. The old postcard above shows an 1890s image of the pumps’ hall in Sarata-Monteoru spa town in Buzau county, SE Romania, one of the many such towns that sprang up in that era of prosperity. The architecture of these towns was that of similar establishments in Central Europe or France and Belgium. Many of these buildings and facilities still survive today, albeit in a very run down state or even on the verge of demolition, constituting extraordinary potential renovation projects for those willing to undertake such an enterprise. Unfortunately, these old quaint buildings, are also eyed by rapacious and ignorant local property developers.

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I endeavor through this daily image series 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 locating 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.

Daily Picture 3-Dec-09: Spa Town Music Kiosk

Art Nouveau style music kiosk in Slanic Moldova, a spa town in the Oriental Carpathian mountains, north-east Romania (1910s postcard, Valentin Mandache collection)

The Victorians from England to India had a penchant for spa towns. Romania, with its Carpathian mountains, a chain of over 1,000 km in length on its Romanian sector, one of the longest such landscape formations in Europe, is especially propitious for development of spa towns around the innumerable thermal or curative mineral water springs located within that Alpine environment. The development of the country on modern European lines under the efficient rule of the German origin King Carol I in the second part of the c19th saw the emergence of numerous spa towns in the Carpathians. The architecture was similar and typical of the age with examples from Central Europe or France and Belgium. Many of these buildings and facilities still survive today, albeit in a very run down state or on the verge of demolition, eyed by rapacious property developers. The image above shows the music kiosk from Slanic Moldova in the Oriental Carpathian mountains, displaying a serene atmosphere just before the Great War, a time of prosperity and well being in this country at the dusk of the Victorian epoch.

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I endeavor through this daily image series 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 locating 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.