Tour: the architecture of the Athenaeum area, Sunday 19 Feb.

Historic Houses of Romania tour in central BucharestDear readers,

I would like to invite you to an architectural history tour to take place in central Bucharest, in the area around the former Royal Palace, which contains the Romanian Athenaeum, the symbol of this town and many other landmark buildings that imprint its personality. The tour is scheduled on Sunday 19 February 2017, for two hours, between 11.30h – 13.30h. This cultural excursion may be of interest to any of you visiting the city as a tourist or on business, looking to find out more about its fascinating historic architecture and identity.

Bucharest has had a number of central areas as it evolved from a medieval market town in what is now the Lipscani quarter, within a bend of the Dambovita river, afterward periodically shifting its location, following directions toward the main regional trading partners: to the south and east during the centuries of Ottoman domination, or to the north once the European powers had the upper hand in the region. What we call today the centre of Romania’s capital, the objective of our tour, emerged less than one and a half centuries ago, encompassing some of its most iconic historic architecture, from the Athenaeum, a magnificent concert hall in the Beaux Arts style, built in a first phase in 1888, designed by the French architect Albert Galleron, to the neoclassical outlines of the former Royal Palace (arch. N. Nenciulescu, 1937) that today hosts the National Art Museum, or the futuristic glass structure that crowns the neo-Renaissance building of the former Habsburg Empire’s Embassy gutted by fire in the anticommunist revolution of 1989. We will also examine the Athenee Palace hotel, the famous spynest where British, US and German spies tried to outwit each other in the years and months right before the Second World War, or the  despised former Communist Party’s Central Committee headquarters, where the dictator Ceausescu and his wife had to leave in haste to meet their fate, pursued by the revolted people of Bucharest, marking the end on one of the harshest dictatorships in Europe. The area is also still bearing bullet marks from the anticommunist revolution or even older traces left by the German air raid of August 1944. We will also visit and examine the site of the former National Theatre, the equivalent of England’s the Globe for Romania, and Cretzulescu Church, a masterwork of the Barncovan style peculiar to the province of Wallachia, among many other objectives. The tour will end with a optional visit of Theodor Aman Museum (entrance fee Lei 5), a charming edifice embodying the quality domestic architecture of the La Belle Époque period Bucharest. All of those exquisite sights, concentrated in a quite small perimeter, enclosing some of the most important architectural landmarks of this town are awaiting to be discovered and photographed by you!

The tour costs Lei 60 (Romanian currency) per person, book by emailing v.mandache@gmail.com or using the comments section of this post. You will be informed of meeting place on booking.

I look forward to seeing you at the tour,

Valentin Mandache/ Historic Houses of Romania – Case de Epoca, tel: 0040 (0)728323272

Historic Houses of Romania tour in central Bucharest
Historic Houses of Romania tour in central Bucharest
Historic Houses of Romania architectural tour in central Bucharest
Historic Houses of Romania architectural tour in central Bucharest

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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.

Tour in east Cotroceni, Saturday 18 Feb.

Cotroceni East-13-3
Costache Negri fountain, east Cotroceni

Dear Readers,

I would like to invite you to an architecture history walk in one of the prestigious quarters of Bucharest, Cotroceni, its eastern, older, part, centred on the area between Dr. Nicolae Staicovici Street and Dr. Joseph Lister Street. This cultural excursion is open to all of you who would like to accompany me, the author of Historic Houses of Romania blog, for two hours, between 11.30h – 13.30h, on Saturday 18 February 2017.

I will be your guide through one of the best quality historic architecture areas of Romania’s capital, constituted from an array of exquisite Little Paris, Neoromanian, and Art Deco and Modernist style houses, intercalated with some alluring examples of Art Nouveau and Mediterranean. The eastern part of Cotroceni is also its oldest, containing one of the best preserved laid out property developments from the Fin de Siècle years. These edifices were built mainly by people belonging to the professional classes of Romania, especially medical doctors and army high echelon officers, of the La Belle Époque and interwar periods. They constructed their residences close by the former Royal Palace of Cotroceni, where the crown couple lived, today used as the Presidential Palace, and the Medical Sciences University, the most prestigious such institution in the south east of Europe, making the area one of the high status quarters of the capital. We will examine and admire the message and symbolism encompassed within designs created by a number of well known architects, like Jean Burcus or Peter Boico, and unearth layers of social and economic history underpinning the development of architecture of this quarter. I will show you how periods such as the prosperous years of the late 19th century or the oil export boom of the 1930s have left their imprint in the magnificence of the ornaments and details, but also how the Peasant Uprising of 1907, or the 1929-1933 Depression, have stunted the development of the area and diminished the aspirations of local patrons and their architects. Cotroceni is also populated by diverse species of  trees, which will give us an image of how a beautiful Bucharest quarter of yester-decades used to look, a sample of its environmental identity, a city renowned by its gardens and tree lined streets, before the urban agglomeration and decay of the communist and post-communist eras altered that charming character. All of this richness of detail is waiting to be discovered by you under my guidance as part of this cultural trail.

The tour costs 60 Lei (Romanian currency) per person, book by emailing v.mandache@gmail.com or using the comments section of this post. You will be informed of meeting place on booking.

I look forward to seeing you at the tour,

Valentin Mandache/ Historic Houses of Romania – Case de Epoca, tel: 0040 (0)728323272

Cotroceni East tour1-001
Historic houses and old architectural details in east Cotroceni, Bucharest. ©Valentin Mandache
Cotroceni East - map-002
Historic Houses of Romania walking tour in east Cotroceni

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

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.

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

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 Contact page of this weblog.

Tour: Patriarchal See Hill area

Dear readers,

I would like to invite you, as the author of Historic Houses of Romania – Case de Epoca blog, to an architectural history tour in Patriarchal See Hill area of Bucharest, scheduled to take place this Sunday 12 February 2017, for two hours, between 12.00h and 14.00h. This cultural excursion is open to all of you who are looking to find out more about the history and identity of Romania’s capital seen through its architectural heritage.

We will explore the urban expanse surrounding what is considered the “Acropolis” of Bucharest, the hill that dominates the old town and is the seat of the Romanian Orthodox Church, the main faith of this country, containing the patriarchal cathedral together with its administrative quarters, reworked in the interwar period by the architect Gheorghe Simotta in neo-Brancovan and Neoromanian styles. The Patriarchal See Hill also contains the Beaux Arts style building of the Read more

Tour in Batistei area

Walking tour in Batistei area of BucharestBatistei area – a fragment of the old Little Paris

Dear readers,

I would like to invite you to an architectural tour focused on Batistei area, one of the most charming old corners of central Bucharest, with many of its buildings dating from from the La Belle Époque period, in a wonderful Little Paris architecture, which is still imprinting this town’s identity, a place where one can also admire other brilliant designs such as Neoromanian, Art Deco and inter-war Modernism. The walk is scheduled to take place this Sunday 29 January 2017, between 11.30h – 13.30h. This cultural excursion could be of interest to any of you visiting Romania’s capital as a tourist or on business, looking to understand the character of this metropolis through discovering its peculiar and fascinating old architecture.

The Batistei area stretches east from the National Theatre neighbourhood to the confines of the Mosilor, constituting an important part of historic Bucharest. Its name comes from that of the church around which the parish has crystalised in medieval times, which in its turn is a place name meaning in old Romanian language a “swampy lake,” a testimony of the former local natural environment that has been taken over by the town’s inexorable development. The church is also one of the very few survivors there of the original Brancovan style architecture that embellished Bucharest during the times of Read more

Tour in Plantelor area

Plantelor Street SignDear readers,

I would like to invite you to an architectural walk in the picturesque Plantelor Street area, located just east of Mantuleasa. It has an alluring residential character, with well presented historic buildings of architectural value, many surrounded by efflorescent gardens. Plantelor area is a sample of how pleasant and stimulative for artistic creativity this town has been in the La Belle Époque and the interwar periods.

The tour is scheduled to take place this Saturday 28 January 2017, between 11.30h – 13.30h. This cultural excursion could be of interest to any of you visiting Romania’s capital as a tourist or on business, looking to understand the character of this metropolis through discovering its peculiar and fascinating old architecture.

The name “Plantelor” (Engl. for Plants’) given to this iconic street, is an echo of the La Belle Époque times, when Bucharest’s houses of its famous Little Paris and also Art Nouveau architecture were provided with gardens and orchards, and the windows were sporting jardinieres full of multicoloured flowers. The local environment was considered healthier than the rest of the town, which made possible the establishment of a sanatorium, where the national poet of Romania, Mihai Eminescu, spent his last days, in the summer of 1889. That verdurous character is still very much around, also imprinting the personality of the Neoromanian, and Art Deco and Read more

Best wishes for 2017!

Dear readers,

Please receive from me, the author of the Historic Houses of Romania – Case de Epoca blog, the best wishes for the new year! I trust 2017 will mark an improvement in the field of knowledge and education in architectural heritage, compared with 2016, which was a dismal year in many regards. The most dissatisfactory issue that I had to confront was the manifest lack of interest and hostility toward the preservation of the built heritage from large sections of the Romanian public, which made my work difficult and unrewarding. Luckily, all of these were mitigated by the keen interest in my work from the foreign public, expatriates based in this country, tourists or business visitors, and a handful of quality Romanians, who kept me going throughout the past unmemorable year. To them I would like to extend my deepest thanks and gratitude!

I made the photograph illustrating this posting in one of my countless solitary fieldwork forays in Bucharest, no matter the weather, and is a metaphor of my travails. I imagine myself as the cat in the picture, alone, but confident, navigating the wilderness and the desert of ignorance and hostility displayed by the local public. As you can see, I am focused and have a doer attitude, not being in the business of making compromises with the low quality level of architectural commentariat that plagues the Romanian media. In short, I do not take prisoners, and I am pursuing my goals of quality and thoroughness in my activity.

I would like to reiterate here my thanks for following me and for participating at my tours, or interacting with me on this blog or the social media pages with the same name.

Best wishes for 2017!

Valentin Mandache/ Historic Houses of Romania – Case de Epoca

Tour in Piata Victoriei

Dear Readers,

This is an invitation to an architectural history tour in Piata Victoriei area of Bucharest: open to all of you who would like to accompany me, the author of the Historic Houses of Romania blog, for two hours, between 11.30h – 13.30h, on Saturday 17 December 2016!

I will be your guide through a remarkably rich and architecturally varied area of central Bucharest, where famous public buildings often stand side by side with quaint Little Paris, Neo-Romanian or Art Deco and Modernist style private houses. The character of the local built landscape has been in large part determined by the architecture embellishing two important boulevards that cross the area: Calea Victoriei, the oldest thoroughfare of Romania’s capital, and Lascar Catargiu, an Read more

Tour in Mantuleasa

Dear Readers,

This is an invitation to an architectural history tour in Mantuleasa quarter of Bucharest, open to all of you who would like to accompany me, the author of the Historic Houses of Romania blog, this Sunday 11 December 2016, between 11.30h – 13.30h.

I will be your guide in this fabled part of the old city, much talked about in the novels of Mircea Eliade, one of the brightest writers and historians ever produced by Romania, who spent there his childhood and early formative years. The quarter used to be one of the most ethnically mixed areas of Bucharest, endowed with a very diverse and exuberant period architecture ranging from beautiful Brancovan style churches, some dating from the late c17th, picturesque French c19th historicist and Art Nouveau architecture to flamboyant inter-war Neo-Romanian and slender Art Deco and International Modernist style dwellings, all within the space of less than Read more

Tour: the early Neoromanian style

scf-003The early Neoromanian architecture as seen in Gradina Icoanei area of Bucharest.

 Dear readers,

I would like to invite you to a walking architectural tour on Saturday 10 December 2016, between the hours 11.30h – 13.30h, in Gradina Icoanei area, on the theme of the exceedingly important for this country’s heritage Neo-Romanian architectural style, in its early phase, how this design peculiar to Romania has been initiated and defined, a period of cultural upheavals and economic prosperity from the 1880s until the mid 1900s. This cultural excursion may be of interest to any of you visiting the town as a tourist or on business looking to find out more about its fascinating historic architecture and identity.

The Neoromanian architectural style is the most visible and amplest body of heritage that this country has bestowed on the world’s culture. Gradina Icoanei area of Bucharest has the highest concentration of buildings featuring this architectural design in its ianugural stages, what I term as the early phase of Romania’s national architecture. The style was initiated by the architect Ion Mincu in 1886 with the Lahovary House, an edifice viewed at  this tour, continued with a series of iconic edifices, such as the Central School for Girls, another objective of the tour, or the Causeway Buffet. The then new national architecture quickly gained popularity and featured in the works of other known architects of that period, such as Giulio Magni, who designed Elie Radu house, viewed at this tour, or Louis Blanc. The most interesting aspect of the early Neoromanian phase is the synthesis of this style with the historicist forms typical of the Little Paris design, then the fashionable building style in town, resulting in unique and Read more

Tour in Gara de Nord area

Dear readers

This is an invitation to an architectural history tour in Gara de Nord area of Bucharest, open to all of you who would like to accompany me, the author of the Historic Houses of Romania blog, this coming Sunday 4 December 2016, for two hours, between 11.30h – 13.30h!

I will be your expert guide through this architecturally diverse space surrounding Bucharest’s communication hub with the rest of Romania, the grandiose Northern Train Station (Gara de Nord), an edifice combining stern classical outlines with vitalist Art Deco details. The local built landscape is characterised by interesting old hotels and guest houses, former entrainment places, the famous Roads and Bridges School, which is hosted in a remarkable Fin de Siècle, neo-Renaissance style building, a traditional produce market and  a multitude of dwellings built for the railway workers and Read more