HM King Michael’s 89th birthday anniversary concert, 25 Oct ’10, “Romanian Athenaeum”, Bucharest

The videos and images in this post have been initially published on Diana Mandache’s blog on Romanian royal history.

HM King Michael of Romania celebrated his 89th birthday anniversary on 25 October 2010, which happily coincide with that the Day of the Romanian Army. The event was marked in Bucharest by an extraordinary concert at the “Romanian Athenaeum” featuring the opera singer Nelly Miricioiu, a famous Romanian soprano with worldwide performances, accompanied by the Ukrainian-Romanian singer Youriy Tsiple and the Romanian Youth Orchestra, coductor Horia Andreescu.

The “Romanian Athenaeum” constitutes the symbol building of Bucharest, and in my opinion is the best quality monumental construction of this city. The edifice is the master-work of the French architect Albert Galleron, designed in the Beaux Arts style and finished in 1888. The plans of the Atheneum were also positively reviewed by the architect Charles Garnier, the designer of the grandiose Paris Opera House (known today as Opera Garnier).

Diana and I were thrilled and honoured to be invited by the Royal House to this wonderful musical performance and we enjoyed it to the full, meeting HRH Crown Princess Margarita and HRH Prince Radu of Romania and wishing a very Happy Birthday to Our Sovereign, HM King Michael! Bellow are a immortalised a few moments from this beautiful event and excellent quality performance by Nelly Miricioiu, which so much impressed us!

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HM King Michael of Romania: 89th Birthday Anniversary (via Diana Mandache’s Weblog)

A Very Happy Birthday to HM King Michael of Romania, 25 October 2010! HM King Michael of Romania celebrates today his 89th birthday! He is an example to follow by all his fellow countrymen of high moral standards and dignity in the face of vicious and continuous adversity endured throughout his life, a monarch and a human being to be respected by the generations to come! In my work over the years as a historian, I came across a great multitude of … Read More

via Diana Mandache’s Weblog

Architect, builders crew and proprietors on a 1928 building site

The architect Constantin Nanescu, builders crew and proprietors on a building site in 1928 Campulung Muscel, Romania. (fragment of an old postcard, private collection)

The above postcard fragment is a fascinating snapshot of Romanian social, economic and also architectural history from the inter war period. It depicts the main parties in a building project for a shop (“Magazinul Staicu” according to the information on the back of the pc) that took place in 1928 in the city of Campulung Arges, southern Romania. The couple on the right are the proprietors, the person in the middle with a hat, tie and smoking, holding the plan is the architect Constantin Nanescu (better known among his contemporaries for his nickname “Cotone”), surrounded by the builders crew (the foreman between the couple and the architect, the bricklayer also holding the plan, the carpenter together with a young apprentice on the left hand side of the photograph). The postcard was intended as a medium for advertising the architect’s services, whose contact details are prominently displayed on a billboard in the foreground. It was most probably sold at the local bookshops and newsagents, thus spreading the word about the architect among other potential local clients. I like the obvious professional pride and sense of optimism (ironically the Great Depression of 1929 – 33 was just one year away) displayed by all the personages depicted in this memorable image, a fact reflected in the high quality architecture and building workmanship existent in inter-war Romania, which made possible the creation of many wonderful Neo-Romanian, Art Deco and modernist style edifices. I believe that the architectural style of this particular shop was Neo-Romanian, very popular in the late 1920s Campulung. (Many thanks to Mr Daniel Bobe, a native of Campulung, for supplying this postcard image).

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I endeavor through this 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 Contactpage of this weblog.

Neo-Romanian style street fence

Neo-Romanian style street fence dating from late 1920s, Victoriei area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

For many architectural styles the street fence is a discreet piece within the architectural assembly, purposefully minimised in order to not obscure or compete with the design of the building that it fences behind. That is not the case with the Neo-Romanian style, where in most cases the street fence is very conspicuous and noticeable for the observer on the street, announcing the flamboyance and massivity of the architecture of the house that it hedges within. The Neo-Romanian style fences are remarkable because of their heavyweight appearance, modelling the aspect of a medieval citadel walls and harrow gates (portcullis), where the fence posts resemble massive Byzantine church towers or those of the cula fortified houses peculiar to the Oltenia region of south western Romania. In some cases the fence poles echo even the Ottoman Islamic tomb stones, an allusion to the old triumphant epic battles that took place in this erstwhile frontier region of Europe between the local Christian princes (like Vlad the Impaler or Stephen the Great in the c16th) and the mighty Islamic forces of the then Ottoman Empire. The photograph above presents one such eloquent Neo-Romanian style street fence, which I recently found in an upmarket area of Bucharest (Victoriei).

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I endeavor through this 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.

A rare ceramic tile Art Deco façade in Bucharest

Ceramic tile Art Deco ground level façade, late 1930s apartment block, Gara de Nord area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

The Art Deco style ceramic façades are a very rare occurrence among the built landscape of Bucharest. Here I managed to find one such elusive example, dating from the late 1930s in the environs of Gara de Nord train station, which has endured a lot of abuse and neglect in the intervening decades, but nevertheless is still managing to convey the spirit of the time. I like how the contrasting black and white parallel strips theme brings to my mind the the cutaway tuxedo suite worn with black tie, white shirt and flashy two tone colour spectator shoes that are the hallmark of the Jazz/ Art Deco era fashion.

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I endeavor through this 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.

Neo-Romanian style truck garage

New-Romanian style truck garage dating from mid-1930s, Targoviste, southern Romania. (©Valentin Mandache)

This is a quite rare example of Neo-Romanian style industrial architecture, which I found in the city of Targoviste in the south of the country. A few months ago I documented another very interesting and also rare Neo-Romanian style garage in Bucharest that probably functioned as a fire station, hosting fire engines, in the inter-war period: click here to access that post. In this instance the building is less ornate, of a functional design, where the Neo-Romanian style elements consist in the pediment ornament present above each doorway, mimicking the crenelation of medieval fortresses and the imposing side tower containing the offices, modelled after the fortified houses from the Oltenia region named cula, an important diagnostic aspect for the Neo-Romania architectural style. I like the fact that the garage is still functional and quite well preserved despite the many economic vicissitudes that had to endure over the communist and post-communist decades.

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I endeavor through this 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.

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

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.

Art Deco street gates and fence

An attractive Art Deco style design for street gates and fence dating from the late 1930s in the Floreasca area, a quarter developed in the inter-war period mainly for skilled workers' families, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

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I endeavor through this 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.

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

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.

Magnificent Neo-Romanian style “Tree of Life” decorative panel

Neo-Romanian style window decoration, Piata Romana area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

I was literally blown away when I first encountered the splendid “Three of Life” window decorative panel, shown in the photograph above, part of the elaborate decoration of a late 1920s – early 1930 Neo-Romanian style house in central Bucharest. It is still well preserved, with the exception of the upper part of the window reticular screen, which was probably broken sometimes in the last decade by ignorant proprietors to make way for air conditioning ducts, a blemish that is nevertheless repairable. The panel is in fact a complex composition of many symbols, inspired from the rich Romanian church and peasant mythology, arranged together in a succession of metaphors that unfurl along the three of life theme.  I can detect there the origins of life motif in the plant pot represented on the base sector, sitting on three grains (the Trinity) from which the life sprang up as a fruit bearing vine plant. The middle sector shows life’s many paths represented by the two decorative side window dressings that illustrate the continuous Manichean encounters between the good (symbolised by the protector eagle) and evil (symbolised by the dragon) forces. Their encounters are interrupted by ornate medallions containing the symbol of the cross, epitomising the peaceful moments attained at some points in life. The upper sector is a representation of the Garden of Eden, where two peacocks, attributes of beauty and peace, feed from a fruit laden cup sustained by a double traverse cross symbolising in the Byzantine/ Orthodox imagery the triumph of Christ and therefore of life over death. The three sectors thus form together an elaborate and full of details three of life, that gives personality and meaning to the the whole architecture of the house. There are many other symbols within this wonderful assembly, like the rope unfurling on the edge of the reticular screen, symbolising the infinity, etc. The whole panel is an wonderful Neo-Romanian style design, which has found in the local church and peasant art and mythology an extraordinarily rich source of inspiration.

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I endeavor through this 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.

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

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.

Cockerel, hens and chicks in a refined Art Deco woodwork representation

Art Deco style woodwork panel dating from the late-1930s on a doorway pediment, representing a cockerel, hens and chicks symbolising the family inhabiting that house and its domestic peace. Dorobanti area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

The house hosting the exquisite Art Deco panel presented here dates from the late-1930s, displaying a mixture of styles on an Alpine chalet theme, a design popular at that time in countries that came under strong German influence, as was the case of Romania. The Alpine themes in architecture were very much favoured by the German national-socialist government against the Bauhaus and International Modernist styles that flourished before their ascension to power. In Romania that type of design was perceived as originating from a more advanced and prestigious cultural environment and did not have outright political connotations as in Germany. This particular house also contains Neo-Romanian motifs (the doorway awning ornaments, the ethnographic patterns carved on the window pillars, etc.) or even Art Deco, where the most conspicuous element is the panel from the above photograph. I like the cheerfulness and high abstraction of the design and the somehow amusing hint that the man in the house had two female partners (the official wife and the mistress).

A late-1930s Alpine chalet style house embellished with an Art Deco woodwork panel on the doorway pediment representing a cockerel's family. Dorobanti area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

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I endeavor through this 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.

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

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.

Elaborate mascaron adorning a Bucharest “Little Paris” style house

Mascaron adorning the window of a late 1890s "Little Paris" style house, Calarasi area, Bucharest. (Valentin Mandache)

This elaborate and quite large scale mascaron embellishes a diminutive “Little Paris” style (what I call the French c19th historicist architectural styles provincially interpreted in Fin de Siècle Romania) Bucharest house. The size of the mascaron is more typical of that found above windows of larger commercial and public buildings, making a picturesque contrast with the domestic dimensions and surroundings of the house which it adorns. The mascaron represents a floral deity from the classical mythology, a theme which on the other hand is very much in tone with the lush gardens of the old Bucharest houses during the long torrid local summers.

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

I endeavor through this 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.

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

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.