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

Tour: Kiseleff area & the late Neoromanian style

Dear readers,

I would like to invite you to a thematic walking tour this Saturday 3 December 2016, on the subject of the late phase of the Neo-Romanian architectural style, which unfurled mainly in the fourth and the fifth decades of the c20th, a period when this order peculiar to Romania reached a crisis in terms of expression, mitigated by a fascinating synthesis with the Art Deco, Mediterranean and Modernist styles. The tour takes two hours, between 11.30h – 13.30h, and it may be of interest to those of you visiting the city as a tourist or on business, looking to find out more about its enchanting historic architecture and identity.

The modern construction technologies that emerged in the roaring twenties affording the development of light, airy structures expressed in the Art Deco and Modernist architecture, were quite antithetical to the traditionally ornate, heavy-built Neo-Romanian style edifices, as typical to its early and mature phases. That led to a crisis within this indigenous architectural order, threatened also by the high popularity among the public of the international modern styles or other fashionable building types, such as the Mediterranean inspired designs, which were all the rage in Bucharest during the Read more

Tour in Bellu Cemetery

Dear readers,

I am organising a thematic two hours walking tour (between 11.30h – 13.30h) this Friday 2 December 2016, the free day that follows the local national day, 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 Read more