Why I am closing down the Facebook page Historic Houses of Romania

I am closing down my over 7 years old Facebook page called Historic Houses of Romania – Case de Epoca, which contains the richest and best structured collection of images and opinions available on any social media network, anywhere, about the historic architecture of Romania, with considerations on that phenomenon in southeast Europe. I had to take that step because of vicious online (so far) attacks from Romanian nationalists and populists, who insists lecturing me their crooked version of history, and hating my international and multicultural approach in dealing with the architectural history of Romania and southeast Europe. The page represents over seven years of arduous work, thousands of kilometres walking and doing fieldwork and research, which attracted about 14,000 followers from all over the world (over 1/3 were non-Romanian speakers), and surely I am quite sad to close it, but there is no alternative under this deluge of nationalist attacks, which seem to become the fashion in Europe and the US. I identified the problem in becoming such a target in the name of the page, “Historic Houses of Romania”, the title containing the particle “Romania”, which for many in this country, educated in the crude tradition of national-communism see it as a sort of exclusive property of theirs, its role being assumed as nothing more than a nationalist propaganda mouthpiece, its multicultural approach and methodology perceived as a threat, not conforming to their perverse worldview. That is why I have set up a new page, called “Valentin Mandache, architectural historian”, hoping to avoid such unwanted attention, and where you are kindly invited to follow me: https://www.facebook.com/vmarchitecturalhistorian/

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My aim, through this series of blog articles, is to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania and Southeast Europe, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of world’s architectural history and heritage.

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If you have a historic house project in Romania or other country in Southeast Europe, I would be delighted to advise you in aspects pertaining to its architectural history and ways to preserve as much as possible from its period fabric and aesthetics in the course of restoration or renovation works, or to counsel you with specialist consultancy work related to that project. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this website.

Considerations on the Wallachian architectural style (aka Brancovan)

The Wallachian style, is a highly original architecture and decorative arts design, which developed within the confines of the Principality of Wallachia, a Christian protectorate of the Ottoman Empire, during the period of stability and prosperity of this great state between the late 17th c and throughout the 18th c. It is a synthesis between local Byzantine traditions, together with Islamic ones, at which is added European Baroque and Renaissance elements. The style is usually named Brancovan or Brancovenesc, which in my opinion is incorrect, not properly and precisely reflecting its geographical and civilisational locus in Wallachia. This video details for you this important chapter of the arts and architecture of the early modern southeast Europe, which has been crucial for the development of the the later Neo-Romanian style, the national style of Romania.

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My aim, through this series of blog articles, is to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania and Southeast Europe, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of world’s architectural history and heritage.

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

If you have a historic house project in Romania or other country in Southeast Europe, I would be delighted to advise you in aspects pertaining to its architectural history and ways to preserve as much as possible from its period fabric and aesthetics in the course of restoration or renovation works, or to counsel you with specialist consultancy work related to that project. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this website.

Tour: Art Nouveau Bucharest

Dear readers,

I would like to invite you to a thematic architectural tour, this Sunday 1 July 2018, between the hours 11.30h – 13.30h, on the subject of the exceedingly interesting, but somehow elusive Art Nouveau architecture of Bucharest. The proposed 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 innovative and flamboyant Art Nouveau current that emerged at the end of c19th, as a reaction to the rigidity of the historicist styles, had also an important impact in Fin de Siècle Romania. One of its notable influences was the articulation within its coordinates of the local national style, known today as Neoromanian, in a similar manner with how other emerging national styles in the rest of Eastern Europe expressed themselves in Art Nouveau fashions. There are just a handful of buildings in town expounding the international Art Nouveau design as a whole, a number of them examined and Read more

Tour in west Cotroceni

Cotroceni west-004
Medical Sciences University, west Cotroceni

Dear readers,

I would like to propose you an architectural history tour, in the western part of the picturesque Cotroceni quarter, which contains the grandiose edifices of the Medical Sciences University and the Palace of the President of Romania. The tour completes my series of distinct walks (east, central and west) covering this architecturally valuable area of Bucharest.

The event is scheduled to take place this Saturday 30 June 2018, 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 most beautiful baroque revival style palace of Bucharest is the Medical Sciences University, the best such school in southeast Europe, designed by the Swiss architect Louis Blanc, and built in 1902, which is at the centre of west Cotroceni. Its aesthetics is auspiciously put into light by the the surrounding elegant built environment, one of the finest in the capital. You are thus going to sample, under my guidance, many of those examples, displaying a dazzling array of symbolism and messages, typical of the Neoromanian, the national architecture of this country, or the international Art DecoModernist and Mediterranean styles. The creators of many of those buildings were part of the golden generations of Romanian architects, people active mostly in the interwar period, when this part of Cotroceni was endowed with the bulk of its houses. Some of them are still being mentioned in name tablets on the walls of the residential edifices they designed, akin to the signature of a painter on canvass, people like I. Sillion, Petre Boico or Read more

Tour: the Wallachian (Brancovan) style

Dear readers,

I would like to invite you to a walking tour on the subject of the unique to Romania, Wallachian architecture, also known as Brancovan, an enthralling artistic current of fusion between local Byzantine traditions, Islamic ones of the Ottoman Empire, together with European Renaissance and Baroque elements, an expression of this land being at the juncture of the European and the Oriental civilizations. It emerged in the Principality of Wallachia, chiefly in the 18th century, in an age of stability and prosperity for this frontier province of the Sublime Porte. Bucharest became firmly established as its capital in that period, and, as a result, is endowed with a great assembly of architectural monuments displaying this singular style.

The tour is scheduled to take place on Monday 28 May 2018, 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, and the social and economic processes underlying it.

Although Bucharest is now a national capital within the European Union, linked primarily with Central and Western Europe, for most of its history, until the last quarter of the 19th century, the town was part of the Ottoman world, of the same mighty empire as Mecca, Damascus, Baghdad, Cairo or Tunis. That will give you a Read more

Tour: 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 Sunday 27 May 2018, 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 Read more

Tour in Bellu Cemetery

Dear readers,

I am organising a thematic two hours walking tour (between 11.30h – 14.00h) this Saturday, 26 May 2018, on the less conventional subject of funerary architecture found within the confines of Bellu Cemetery, the most famous and exquisitely embellished necropolis of Romania, the equivalent in these parts of Europe of Paris’ Père Lachaise or London’s Highgate cemetery. It 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.

Bellu Cemetery is considered the National Pantheon of this country, containing the graves and remarkable funerary monuments of important personalities that built the modern Romanian nation, people such as Mihai Eminescu, the national poet, Ion Mincu, the initiator of the Neo-Romanian architectural style or general Christian Tell, one of the heroes of 1848 Revolution. It was opened in 1858 as a public burial ground, part of the city’s advanced urban planning developments of the Victorian era, occasioned by a fast increase in population, when traditional cemeteries around urban churches became overcrowded and a health hazard, as was the case with other European capitals of that era. Many of Bellu’s funerary monuments are outstanding architectural tributes that the Read more

Tour in east Cotroceni

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 12.45h – 14.45h, on Sunday 20 May 2018.

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 Read more

Tour: the early Neo-Romanian 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 Sunday 22 April 2018, 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 Read more

The metal roofing of the Little Paris style houses

A Little Paris style house, the provincial, western inspired architecture of Bucharest and many urban centres of the La Belle Epoque Romania, is as, a norm, provided with metallic roofing; sheets of metal seamed together, giving it a peculiar modern aspect for those times. This type of roofing is exceedingly safer in case of fire, compared with the traditional wooden shingle roofing of Bucharest houses. That material were highly inflammable, contributing to devastating fires, culminating with the Great Fire of 1847. That event made the authorities and the locals to look for safer materials. The change of architectural tastes from provincial Ottoman to Little Paris, was another reason for adopting the metal roofing. That became widely adopted only when the metal sheet materials for roofing became cheaper and accessible, which has happened after 1879, once the railway to the Habsburg town of Brasov was opened, and the products of the industrialised Austro-Hungary penetrated Bucharest’s and Romania’s markets. This video details this contorted process reflected in the mass adoption of metal sheet roofing for the urban dwellings of Little Paris style architecture in Romania’s capital.

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My aim, through this series of blog articles, is to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania and Southeast Europe, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of world’s architectural history and heritage.

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

If you have a historic house project in Romania or other country in Southeast Europe, I would be delighted to advise you in aspects pertaining to its architectural history and ways to preserve as much as possible from its period fabric and aesthetics in the course of restoration or renovation works, or to counsel you with specialist consultancy work related to that project. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this website.