The Roman fort of Pietroasele

This is a video from my recent visit at Pietroasele, in Buzau county, southeast Romania, famous for a large Gothic treasure trove find, which it is now the main exhibit of the National Museum of History in Bucharest. The place also hosts a castrum/ fort, of no lesser historical importance, which was part of the advance warning outposts of the Roman Empire in the early 4th c CE, watching the corridor between the Great Bend of the Carpathian mountains and the Danube bend at Galati, a geographical feature linking the frontiers of the empire with the highways of migratory peoples roaming in the Pontic Steppe, the north Caucasus and Central Asia. Through this corridor fearsome peoples like the Goths, the Huns, the Avars or the Bulgarians will emerge like a Read more

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 Saturday 5 Neovember 2016, for two hours, between 11.30h and 13.30h. 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 old Romanian Parliament, now belonging to the church too, designed by arch. Dimitrie Maimarolu, and built in 1907. The area thus Read more

Tour: the architecture of the Athenaeum area

Historic Houses of Romania tour in central BucharestDear readers,

I would like to invite you to an architectural history tour to take place in central Bucharest, in the area around the former Royal Palace, which contains the Romanian Athenaeum, the symbol of this town and many other landmark buildings that imprint its personality. The tour is scheduled on Sunday 6 November 2016, for two hours, between 11.30h – 13.30h. This cultural excursion may be of interest to any of you visiting the city as a tourist or on business, looking to find out more about its fascinating historic architecture and identity.

Bucharest has had a number of central areas as it evolved from a medieval market town in what is now the Lipscani quarter, within a bend of the Dambovita river, afterward periodically shifting its location, following directions toward the main regional trading partners: to the south and east during the centuries of Ottoman domination, or to the north once the European powers had the upper hand in the region. What we call today the centre of Romania’s capital, the objective of our tour, emerged less than one and a half centuries ago, encompassing some of its most iconic historic architecture, from the Athenaeum, a magnificent concert hall in the Beaux Arts style, built in a first phase in 1888, designed by the French architect Albert Galleron, to the neoclassical outlines of the former Royal Palace (arch. N. Nenciulescu, 1937) that today hosts the National Art Museum, or the futuristic glass structure that crowns the neo-Renaissance building of the former Habsburg Empire’s Embassy gutted by fire in the anticommunist revolution of 1989. We will also examine the Read more

Heralding a new century

The old houses of a town like Bucharest offer interesting clues about the social history, architecture, expectations and aspirations of those who built those houses, all of those decades and centuries ago. In this video I will discuss how the rendering of the inauguration year of a Little Paris style house encompasses those feelings at the passing between the c19th to the c20th.

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 30 October 2016, 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 the Ottoman rule, until the western styles, provincially interpreted, especially the French inspired neo-rococo architecture, replaced it wholesale starting with the mid-19th century, as part of the Europeanisation and 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 11.30h – 13.30h, on Saturday 29 October 2016.

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 institution in the south east of Europe, making the area one of the high status quarters of the capital. We will examine and Read more

Garden colours in October

The side garden of a Little Paris style house in Icoanei area of Bucharest
The side garden of a Little Paris style house in Icoanei area of Bucharest

Bucharest is a large town deficient in parks, which are in constant threat to be concreted over, and houses with small yards, more frequently used as storage space or garage, rather than garden. Those yards are commonly much smaller than the plot occupied by the house, a consequence of the urban high density living in historic quarters, and in general are treated as a sort of Cinderella, the owner being focused chiefly on the brick and mortar part of the property.

What makes that situation palatable, is the human dimension of many of Bucharest’s historic houses, and the fact that through their decorative details and building materials, a good degree of integration with the local natural environment is achieved. The houses expounding eloquently that context are the ones from the 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 Sunday 23 October 2016, 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 Read more

Tour in Cismigiu area

Dear Readers,

I would like to invite you, in my quality as the author of Historic Houses or Romania – Case de Epoca blog, to an architectural history tour in Cismigiu area of Bucharest. This cultural excursion, open to all interested in Romania’s capital history and identity, is scheduled to take place this Saturday 22 October 2016, for two hours, between 11.30h – 13.30h.

I will be your guide throughout this beautiful expanse of Bucharest, which borders and includes the Cismigiu Gardens, the “Central Park” of this town, which is also its oldest surviving landscaped garden. The quarter boasts a balanced mix of architectures ranging from Little Paris, Art Nouveau, Neoromanian to Art Deco and Read more

Tour: Art Nouveau Bucharest

Dear readers,

I would like to invite you to a thematic architectural tour, this Sunday 2 October 2016, 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