Book launch invitation “Patrie & Destin”

Diana Mandache's Weblog

Your are invited to the book launch of “Fatherland and Destiny. The Crown Princess of Romania” by Diana Mandache.

Thursday 31 May 2012, 2 pm, at The ‘Bookfest’

Bucharest (Romexpo), Pavilion C2,  LITERA publishing house

“Fatherland and Destiny” [Patrie si Destin] brings for the first time together, a significant part of the myriad of events, places and people encountered throughout the life of Her Royal Highness The Crown Princess Margarita of Romania. Her destiny is often congruent with that of her father, King Michael, and her life has been profoundly influenced by the more recent history of her country and south east Europe. His Majesty is the one who, by naming Princess Margarita as his successor, has shown vision in understanding the necessity to adapt to the realities of the new century, paralleling the approach of his illustrious predecessors King Carol I or King Ferdinand, in the…

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Poster of the 1906 Royal Jubilee Exhibition

The Great Royal Jubilee Exhibition of 1906 has been a momentous event for the culture and economy of the young Kingdom of Romania. It has also marked, through the elaborate and high quality Neo-Romanian design of many of its pavilions, the onset of the mature phase of this style. The exhibition’s chief edifice was the Palace of the Arts, presented in the images bellow, which was envisaged as a gathering place of what was considered the finest products of the Romanian people throughout its history. That was also the central message of the event,  publicised as as a dual celebration of, on the one hand, King Carol I’s forty years of glorious reign, which saw the gaining on the battlefield of the country’s independence from the Ottoman Empire, the subsequent Europeanisation process and the phenomenal growth of its economy, and also, on the other hand, marking 1,800 years since in 106 CE the Roman Empire under Emperor Trajan conquered the ancient kingdom of Dacia located where in modern times the state of Romania emerged, a historical milestone that ignited the formation of the Romanian people and language. The 1906 exhibition was thus imbued with an intense and picturesque patriotic sentiment typical of the La Belle Époque period that had powerful reverberations throughout the whole of the Romanian speaking world, which at that moment included large swathes of territory under the sovereignty of other states, such as Transylvania in the Austrian-Hungarian Empire or Bessarabia, then a province of Russia.

The Palace of the Arts is shown in all its glory in this colour poster published in the monthly magazine “Vulturul” (“The Eagle”, a reference to the country’s coat of arms). The issue date is Sunday 2 July 1906 (in the Julian calendar, in official use then in the country). It presents the official opening ceremony of the exhibition in the presence of the Royal Family and a welcoming public, which took place on 6 June (it closed on 23 November that year).

1906 Bucharest Jubilee Exhibition poster, published  by the  montly “Vulturul”, on 2 July 1906 (arch. Madalin Ghigeanu collection)

The Palace of the Arts was in a way the Romanian response to the tradition of iconic exhibition buildings inaugurated by the Crystal Palace in London  half a century before, epitomizing the ambitious aspirations of that young Balkan nation. It contained a large glazed roof over a central structure embellished with Neo-Romanian style elements and ornaments and also references to the classical architecture, considered then as the purest form of architecture. Its designers were the architects Victor Stefanescu and Stefan Burcus, the contractor being the engineer Robert Effingham Grant, a Romanian of British origins.

1906 Bucharest Jubilee Exhibition poster, published  by the  montly “Vulturul”, on 2 July 1906 (arch. Madalin Ghigeanu collection)

The central figures of this poster were the royal couple, King Carol I, an excellent administrator, brought up and trained in the military industrial complex of the mid-c19th Germany, and his wife, Queen Elizabeth, an internationally renown writer, known after her nom de plume as Carmen Sylva. They are presented receiving the homage of the population and in two prominent medallions flanking the image of the palace.

1906 Bucharest Jubilee Exhibition poster, published  by the  montly “Vulturul”, on 2 July 1906 (arch. Madalin Ghigeanu collection)

The monarch has been the supervisor of the exhibition works, a role in a way similar to that of Prince Albert for the London event of 1851, while the general manager was Constantin Istrati, an accomplished scientist.

1906 Bucharest Jubilee Exhibition poster, published  by the  montly “Vulturul”, on 2 July 1906 (arch. Madalin Ghigeanu collection)

The Royal Family is present at the opening, King Carol I (second from right), Queen Elizabeth next to his left, while the Crown Prince Ferndinand and Crown Princess Marie are at his right. The children of the princely couple are in front, from left to right: Princess Elizabeth, Princess Marie, Prince Carol and on the right the little Prince Nicolas. A peasant woman graciously offers them a bunch of flowers.

1906 Bucharest Jubilee Exhibition poster, published  by the  montly “Vulturul”, on 2 July 1906 (arch. Madalin Ghigeanu collection)

The poster also presents in some detail the public participating at the ceremony, Bucharest people and visitors in a relaxed attitude, proud of their country’s achievements embodied in that great exhibition.

1906 Bucharest Jubilee Exhibition poster, published  by the  montly “Vulturul”, on 2 July 1906 (arch. Madalin Ghigeanu collection)

I like the presence of persons wearing peasant costumes, as is the group on the left hand side of the image above, who were probably proper peasants and also higher class individuals, including aristocrats, representing a patriotic fashion introduced and promoted by Queen Elizabeth and Crown Princess Marie, who incidentally were of foreign extraction, the first a German and the second of British and Russian origins, at the local royal balls and other major functions.

In 1923 the Miliary Museum of Romania was established within the Palace of the Arts building, functioning until the late 1930s when the building caught fire and later, in 1943, demolished with the intention to erect a more modern museum edifcice. Those plans never came to fruition because of the war and the Stalinist takeover of 1947. However, a grandiose communist heroes mausoleum, which is now probably the most beautiful architectural structure of the communist era, was been built there in the late 1950s.

I would like to express here my thanks to architect Madalin Ghigeanu, who kindly provided this poster, part of his ample collection, for publication.

Mature phase Neo-Romanian style houses

I photographed the Neo-Romania style houses presented bellow during the walking architectural tours which I organised in the Patriarchy Hill area. They date from the apogee phase of the development of Romania’s national style, which took place between the second part of the 1900s (starting with 1906, more precisely, when this architectural style was presented to the larger public with the occasion of the Great Royal Jubilee Exhibition of that year in Bucharest) and the late 1920s (when the Art Deco and Modernist styles became serious contenders on the local architectural scene).

Mature phase Neo-Romanian style housedating from the mid-1910s, Patriarchy Hill area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

This is a well proportioned house embellished with a beautiful roof crest flanked by finials. The ample veranda is particularly attractive with tri-lobed arches, short columns decorated with the rope motif and elaborated floral gallery panels. The ceramic tile roof is inspired from the shingle roof encountered on peasant houses in the region.

Mature phase Neo-Romanian style house dating from the early 1920s, Patriarchy hill area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The above edifice is again amply embellished with Neo-Romanian motifs, the most prominent being the mock cula tower (fortified yeoman house from south western Romania) at its centre, a beautiful colonated  first floor veranda with tri-lobed arches and a well designed attic that is also provided with a veranda boasting ethnografic motifs. On the ground floor is space for shops, while on the floors above are living quarters. Unfortunately the recent renovations have disfigured this remarkable building, the old ceramic tile roof being replaced with an ugly metallic one, while most of the wooden window frames are now impersonal plastic frame double glazing.

Mature phase Neo-Romanian style house, dating from the late 1920s, Patriarchy Hill area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The mock cula tower is again obvious on the Neo-Romanian style dwelling from the above photograph. The building is provided with an impressive arched doorway and two ethnographic verandas.

Mature phase Neo-Romanian style house, dating from the early 1920s, Patriarchy Hill area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The omnipresent mock cula tower is again visible in the make up of the house presented in this image. Apparently there are not references to the holy trinity in its decorative and structural elements, as the Neo-Romanian style would usually require, probably because of the small space available for such expressions. I believe an exception was the main window, which now has a plastic double glazing frame, where the original one would have been a church triptych inspired one.

Recommend Historic Houses of Romania blog to friends and strangers

Historic Houses of Romania blog author at the Central School, designed by arch. Ion Mincu in 1890 in the Neo-Romanian style, Bucharest (photo: arch. Daniela Puia)

Dear readers,

I hope you like the Historic Houses of Romania blog articles about the rich, diverse and highly particular architectural heritage of this region of South East Europe. If that is the case, then why not recommend it to friends, acquaintances or even strangers that might cross your way, or spread the word about the site on your social media or website of choice: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, SumbleUpon and whatever else is under the Sun :)

I trust that you will continue to find interesting the new articles which I am constantly preparing, supplemented since last year by the architectural history walking tours in Bucharest and other locations in Romania!


Valentin Mandache

Expert in Romania’s historic houses

(Facebook: Twitter:!/casedeepoca)


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 Contactpage of this weblog.

The Moon seen from Bucharest

Last night the Moon was at perigee, in spectacular full-moon phase, the Earth’s satellite looking larger than usual, reflecting an ampler amount of sunlight. The Bucharest night-sky at 22.00h, when I made the photograph (first image bellow), featured an eerie blue complexion induced by the atypical brightness. In those glare conditions the Moon’s surface relief was less distinguishable, apart form its seas and major craters, such as the impressive Tycho crater from the southern hemisphere. The lunar landscape was certainly more noticeable a week ago, on 30 April, when I made the second photograph presented bellow, with the Moon in waxing gibbous phase, which favoured a better visibility of its meteor impact craters, especially those located in the twilight area between the day and night zones. The photographs were taken with a Canon SX20is.

Moon in full phase seen from Bucharest on 5 May ’12 (©Valentin Mandache)
Moon in waxing gibbous phase seen from Bucharest on 30 April ’12 (©Valentin Mandache)

The many “lives” of a Neo-Romanian style finial

Bellow is the photograph of a beautiful Neo-Romanian style rooftop finial presented in seven image processing instances, thus exuding something from its powerful symbolism or even magic. It is an ethnographic type finial, modelling a wood carved pole, an artefact encountered in the decoration of Romanian peasant houses.

Neo-Romanian style finial, unprocessed image, 1920s house, Mantuleasa area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)
Neo-Romanian style finial, inverse colours image, 1920s house, Mantuleasa area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)
Neo-Romanian style finial, 1960s style colours image, 1920s house, Mantuleasa area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)
Neo-Romanian style finial, heath map image, 1920s house, Mantuleasa area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)
Neo-Romanian style finial, Holga camera like image, 1920s house, Mantuleasa area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)
Neo-Romanian style finial, neon style image, 1920s house, Mantuleasa area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)
Neo-Romanian style finial, pencil sketch image, 1920s house, Mantuleasa area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

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