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: The Neo-Romanian style at its peak

Dear readers,

I will organise an architectural tour this Sunday 13 November 2016, between the hours 11.30h – 13.30h, on the subject of the mature phase of the Neo-Romanian architectural style, when it reached a peak in terms of expression and development. That represents an extraordinary creative period, unfurled throughout the first three decades of the c20th, which produced the most iconic and accomplished edifices in this manner of architectural design specific to Romania and neighbouring regions where the country had influence. The Neo-Romanian style had thus became the most visible identity marker of this nation and is now considered its chief contribution to the world’s built heritage. Bucharest is the best endowed place with edifices in that architecture, with a great selection of buildings from the period when the Neo-Romanian reach its magnificence. The tour may be of interest to any of you working as expatriates here or visiting the town, looking to find out more about its fascinating historic architecture and identity.

The mature phase of the Neo-Romanian style was initiated with the Great Royal Jubilee Exhibition of 1906 in Bucharest, when the pavilions of that venue were designed according to rigorous tenets, and the style was thus first properly and eloquently presented to the wider public of that epoch, and went on until the end of the third decade of the c20th, when it reached a certain crisis of Read more

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.

Travails of a Neoromanian house

Note: The first paragraph and image is an April Fools’ Day joke, showing one of the landmark buildings of Bucharest in a happier time, in the early 1970s, while the reality is detailed in the second paragraph and image, plus video.

Amazing! Bucharest’s government of whom everyone says is corrupt, ignorant and actively destroying the town’s heritage, has just restored one of the landmarks of Romania’s capital: the early Neoromanian style rendered in Art Nouveau fashion Boteanu building, a design by arch. Petre Antonescu in the 1900s!

Boteanu building, by arch. Petre Antonescu, 1900s, in early phase Neoromanian style rendered in Art Nouveau fashion.
Boteanu building, by arch. Petre Antonescu, 1900s, in early phase Neoromanian style rendered in Art Nouveau fashion.

This is how the building is looking nowadays, compared with its former self, above, in the happier times of the 1970s decade, photographed by a rare American tourist, who visited during the communist thaw period in international relations, before Nicolae Ceausescu consolidated his totalitarian dictatorship. What we see today is the result of the neglect and active destruction that characterise the generations produced by Ceausescu’s rule and Ion Iliescu – Adrian Nastase post-communist corruption. Sadly the Royal House also plays in this dynamic, by giving medals to personages such as mayor Oprescu, who oversees the destruction of the architectural heritage, and its socialisation with corrupt Read more

A happy new year for 2015!

Phoenix bird raising from burning flames, adorning the facade of a late phase Neoromanian style house, dating from the late 1930s in Kiseleff area of Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)


I endeavour through this series of periodic articles to inspire appreciation of Romania’s historic houses and its region in South East Europe, 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 with specialist research, sourcing and marketing the property. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this weblog.

Late Neo-Romanian style doorway assembly

Late Neo-Romanian style doorway assembly, house buit in the early-1930s, Cotroceni area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

I divide the evolution of the Neo-Romanian architectural style in three main phases. The early one lasted from its initiation in 1886 by the architect Ion Mincu with his edifice in the national style, Lahovary house, until 1906 when the Royal Jubilee exhibition took place, showing to the public its grand pavilions, many designed in an elevated unitary manner that “canonised” the style, which marked the beginning of its mature phase. It reached an apogee after the country’s victory in the Great War and subsequently in the 1920s decade, when was adopted all over the territory of interbellum Romania. The late 1920s, and the 1930s decade saw the increase popularity and in the end prevalence of the international styles Art Deco and Modernism, which induced a crisis of expression for the Neo-Romanian, thus marking its late phase. The national style managed to strive through an imaginative synthesis with the Art Deco and also Mediterranean inspired forms, resulting in extremely interesting designs. The evolution of the style practically ended with the instauration of communism in the winter of 1947, under the impact of the ideologically driven architectural priorities of the new political regime. It continued to have echoes for another two decades especially in vernacular forms and in motifs used on post-war edifices.

The street gate and doorway assembly presented above belongs in its design outline and period when it was built to the late phase of development of the Neo-Romanian style. The wrought iron gate is inspired from Brancovan style church or altar doors, but expressed in coordinates close to Art Deco. The two gate posts are also derived from church or medieval citadel towers, conforming with the national-romantic message of the style. The door itself shows a series of square panels pointed each by a central disc, which can be understood as the outline of an ethnographic solar disc or an interpretation of a Greek cross. The wall surround of the door is basically an adaptation of a church door opening in reduced to essence coordinates of the Art Deco style. The doorway assembly dates from the beginning of the 1930s, and as the time progressed into that decade, the expression of the Neo-Romanian forms in an Art Deco “ambiance” became even more prevalent and captivating as a form of architectural language.