This is a small sample from Bucharest’s environmental identity: one of the city’s old churches, Antim Monastery, with its majestic cupola towers set against the beautiful autumnal blue sky, peppered with fast moving patches of clouds, so peculiar to this latitude, mid-way between the North Pole and the Equator, in continental Europe.
I just had a short visit to the beautiful Antim Monastery in the very centre of Bucharest. It is a superb building gathering many motifs and styles from the Ottoman world of the c17th and c18th that I need to thoroughly investigate, analyse and meditate upon.
I would like, together with my husband, to wish from the depth of our hearts A Very Happy Birthday to His Majesty King Michael of Romania!
25 October 2012
HM King Michael of Romania: “I have served the Romanian nation throughout a life that has been long and full of events, some of them happy, many of them unhappy.(…) After freedom and democracy, the most important things to be gained are identity and dignity. Here a major responsibility rests upon the Romanian elite.” (discourse in the Parliament of Romania with the occasion of the 90th birthday celebration, 25 Oct. 2011)
Last week there was a full moon at this latitude and we also had an unusual Indian summer weather for the month of October. I took the photograph above in the evening while walking by Bratianu Boulevard, watching toward one of the side streets around New Saint George’s church, which is a more run down area of Lipscani, the old commercial quarter of Bucharest. In my opinion it conveys something from the peculiar half-Oriental – half-European identity of this city on the eastern edge of the European Union. The ramshackle Little Paris style buildings, small shops and people going about in the warmth of the night, in the clear-obscure generated by the the moonlight in competition with the makeshift street lamps are evocative for that type of character of which Bucharest abounds.
The main English language periodical in this country dedicated to the expatriate business community has recently published an auspicious article about the Historic Houses of Romania architectural tours and activity. The piece is written by Anca Ionita, the publisher of this magazine, and can be read at this link: “Bucharest houses with a history”. I was also pleasantly surprised to see an inset with my image and a short description of what I am doing in the field of historic architecture at the top of Business Review’s front page. The expatriate business community is one of my main target audiences, and thus hope that this article would make better known Historic Houses of Romania – Case de Epoca among this highly educated public.
This is a sample of Bucharest’s environmental identity, a metropolis in south east Europe located midway between the North Pole and the Equator, with a temperate continental climate. We had quite an Indian Summer this October 2012 in Romania’s capital, with some apple or chestnut trees flowering again, or ant colonies, such as is the case here, being highly energized to look for food or change the place of their colony, when they should normally prepare for hibernation. Is this another proof that there is a climate change process going on?
A number of Romanian orthodox rite historic churches in Bucharest and other places of importance throughout Romania contain ceremonial chairs, named “thrones”, dating mostly from the period of the Hohenzollern – Sigmaringen dynasty (1866-1947) destined for the use of the metropolitan/ patriarch and of the chief of state who at one time or another visited, consecrated or re-consecrated that building. The chair destined for the sovereign (there were two chairs if he was accompanied by his spouse) usually displays the cypher of the crowned head who first visited the building, assisted or gave his blessing to those important ceremonies, sometimes also containing other hallmarks of Romanian royalty, such as the crown or coat of arms. A royal or princely cypher is a monogram of the reigning ruler, formally approved and used on official documents or displayed on public buildings and other objects of public use or owned by the state, such as postal boxes or military vehicles, etc.
The image above shows an interesting example of a royal chair from Mantuleasa church in Bucharest (a beautiful Brancovan style monument, restored in 1924 – ’30, in the reign of King Ferdinand and his descendant, King Carol II), photographed during a recent Historic Houses of Romania tour in that area. The chair displays Ferdinand’s cypher, a stylised back-to-back double “F”, as he was the monarch who officially inaugurated the restoration works. On top of chair’s back there is also an interesting representation of Romania’s state crown, the famous steel crown made from the melted metal of a canon captured in the 1877 Independence War. The whole assembly is rendered in the mature phase Neo-Romanian style, with ethnographic solar discs and acanthus/ vine leave carvings, constituting an interesting ceremonial furniture example expressed in the national design style. King Ferdinand’s cypher is a rare sight nowadays, the chair presented here bringing back memories of this remarkable sovereign, who strove all his life to keep a reserved and dignified public profile.