Saving Batistei church fresco through social media

How I saved a fragment of the 18th century Wallachian style wall painting at Batistei Church in Bucharest. In January 2017 during an architectural tour, which I conducted in the area, I photographed the damage done to the painting due to boiler pipes installed in the church. The face of a saint was pierced in order to allow the conduct of the boiler pipe. This was my first viral photograph, reaching on Facebook over 900,000 persons, and generating interest in the media. As a result of this exposure, the church priests took steps to remove the pipes and somehow restore the face of the saint in the fresco, which was pierced to make room for the pipe. I documented that repair by taking another photograph that I took when I visited again the church, with an architectural tour in October 2017. Thus through the power of social media, I managed to save an ancient, for Bucharest, fresco!

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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 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.

Rabid People’s Church – an architectural history

The Rabid People’s Church (“Schitul Turbati” in Romanian) in Silistea Snagovului, 30 miles north of Bucharest, is a little known architectural gem, in which the evolution of architecture in the Principality of Wallachia, in nowadays southern Romania, can be traced for the last eight centuries, when the church was probably first built during the Latin Empire of Constantinople in the aftermath of the 4th Crusade. In this presentation I expound how the church came to encompass local traditions forged in wooden church architecture, together with Byzantine, Bulgarian – Serbian, Western (Hungarian via Transylvania) and Ottoman traditions. One can see there the green shoots of the Wallachian, aka Brancovan, style, which emerged in the 16th c, and is a principal fountain of inspiration for the Neo-Romanian, the national style of modern Romania.

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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 advise 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.

Convergences between the 17th c architectures of Spain and the Balkans

There is amazement among participants at my architectural tours who come from Spain or Portugal of how familiar the architecture of 17th and 18th centuries of Bucharest, the Brancovan or Wallachian style, look to them, similar with designs from the same period in their countries. This video puts forward the most likely explanation for this intersting convergence of architectural forms between the Southwestern and Southwestern corners of Europe.

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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.

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

If you plan acquiring or selling a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advise 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.

My first viral photo – documents architectural vandalism

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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.

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

If you plan acquiring or selling a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advise 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.

Brancovan vs. Neoromanian

There is a great confusion between two of the main architectural styles peculiar to the territory of Romania, Brancovan and Neoromanian. This video brings the necessary basic tools to equip you into making an informed distinction between the two, using historic and architectural aesthetics elements characterising these architecture designs and artistic currents imprinting the identity of the built landscape of this country in Southeastern Europe.

Brief considerations on the Brancovan style

The Brancovan architectural forms, which unfurled in the period between the mid-c17th and first decades of the c18th, epitomised a sublime relation between symbols representing the way of life of that period and the belief system peculiar to the place in which they took shape, namely the Principality of Wallachia. The arhictecture of those edifices mirrored the spiritual universe and psychology of those who erected them and the communities for whom they were built. That is the reason why the symbolism of those monuments contains the answer to the question why the architecture, especially the ecclesiastical design, has acquired a unique language during the Brancovan epoch, leading to the emergence of what we call today the Brancovan style, intrinsic to that principality and pivotal to the underpinning,  in the modern era, of the Neo-Romanian style.

The conceptual tools employed in analysing the architectural phenomenon of that age in central and western Europe are, in my opinion, not wholesomely adequate in examining the stylistic complexity of the Brancovan style buildings, where a more Read more

Potlogi Palace: imagination & restoration

The Neo-Romanian architectural style is based on a multiplicity of sources from throughout the regions of Romania, chiefly among them churches and palaces built during a period centred on the reign of the Wallachian prince Constantin Brancoveanu (1688 – 1714). The architecture developed throughout that era is usually termed as Brancovan (other terms are Wallachian or Romanian Renaissance), representing a very peculiar, flamboyant mix of southern Romanian and Ottoman Islamic motifs together with European Renaissance (northern Italian) and baroque elements. Unfortunately, not many of those extraordinary buildings are still around, due to wars, frequent invasions by armies of the neighbouring empires, earthquakes or devastating great fires. Also an important proportion of the remaining edifices were in the course of time heavily altered.

The relative scarcity of such archetype structures, was something about which even Ion Mincu, the initiator of the Neo-Romanian style, complained about at the end of the c19th. Consequently many of the old Brancovan buildings had to be reconstructed in the modern era on the basis of disparate surviving fragments, using a a great deal of imagination in putting them together.

A case in point is that of Potlogi Palace, presented in images bellow, built by the prince Constantin Brancoveanu at the height of his power and during the flourishing of the Brancovan style in Wallachian arts and architecture.

Potlogi Palace, late c17th, southern Romania

The edifice, completed in 1698 – ’99, was destroyed by an invading Ottoman force just a decade and a half later, in 1714, as part of the reprisals for prince’s supposed collaboration with Peter the Great of Russia, and left in a Read more

Wallachian history and identity in a Cyrillic inscription

Romanian language inscription rendered in Cyrillic dating from 1842, located on the southern wall of Domnita Balasa church in Bucharest – click the photograph for a more detailed view (©Valentin Mandache)

I am always enthralled when reading old inscriptions in Romanian that use the Cyrillic script. They have for me a profound identity appeal, speaking from the depths of time when versions of this script, adapted for the sounds and needs of the Romanian idioms, were used to render the language since at least the early c16th until the mid c19th, when it was replaced by the Latin script. The first monumental literature work in Romanian, the Bible of Bucharest, produced in 1688,  the equivalent of King James Bible in terms of Read more