This is the 2nd of my three part article on Bucharest’s “Little Paris” iron balconies (Part 1 was published on 25 January ’09)- an important and often overlooked ornamental and functional element within the city’s architectural landscape. For this post I selected examples showing the PEAR SHAPED BALCONY type, the most representative and abundant La Belle Époque style iron balcony in Bucharest.
La Belle Époque fashion and style (a corresponding and often equivalent term used in France and countries influenced by French culture, such as Romania, for the Victorian epoch) has been a remarkable period in architectural achievements. Paris was the laboratory of the new trends and the Romanians, often with limited means, but with great enthusiasm, adopted the new chic emanating from France’s capital. Consequently at the end of the 19th century Bucharest emerged as the “Little Paris” at the eastern edges of Europe.
There is a large stock of buildings from that period, unevenly distributed throughout the city. Yet there are some spots with relatively high concentration of Little Paris style buildings, constituting veritable picturesque architectural enclaves with a high but little exploited tourist potential, such as Lipscani, Mantuleasa and Kogalniceanu areas.
The wrought iron is a material that allows a great design and imagination freedom, a fact conspicuously displayed by the pear shaped iron balconies with their exuberance of intricate patterns and motifs that frequently have the monogram of the house owner proudly displayed at the centre.
The abundance of iron balconies of many types and styles at that period in Bucharest suggests the existence of a thriving multitude of workshops and designers. There is hardly anything written on that subject in the last one hundred years. I am sure that there are archive-holdings in Romania containing examples of pattern books compiled by those craftsmen. The eventual finding of such design plans would greatly assist many a prospective owner to renovate/ restore his/her Little Paris period property into Bucharest and put the sparkle back in the iconic balcony of that building. © Valentin Mandache
If you are interested in acquiring a period property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to assist 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.