The superlative building of the Romanian Athenaeum, which is rightly considered the architectural symbol of Bucharest, contains a series of five mosaic medallions, each about 1 m in diameter, depicting past glorious rulers of Romanian lands, on its iterior frieze behind the colonade supporting the pediment. The one at the centre is that of King Carol I of Hohenzollern Sigmaringen (1839 – 1914), the moderniser of Romania, under whose reign the country undertook an epic process of cultural Europeanisation and economic reform, after more than four centuries within the orbit of the Ottoman Empire. I believe that the mosaics are the creation of the famous painter Costin Petrescu, a proponent of the Neo-Romanian style within the graphic arts, who also painted the great circular fresco representing the history of the Romanian people, unfurling along the wall of the Athenaeum’s auditorium. The medallion shows the king in regalia, cloacked with a coronation mantle and crowned with the steel crown made from Turkish canon captured by his army on the battlefield during the Independence war of 1877. The medallion is, in my opinion, one of the most expressive representations of King Carol I, which fortunately was left untouched during the communist rule, conveying his energetic spirit and vision that made him such an all time popular and praised leader of this country.
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!