Tour: the early Neo-Romanian style – Sunday 22 April

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 Sunday 22 April 2018, 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 fascinating architectural creations, from those produced by professional architects to vernacular buildings erected by craftsmen or ordinary people of the Fin de Siècle period. There were also syntheses with the Art Nouveau in that initial period of the Neoromanian style. The end of the early phase of the Romania’s national architecure is marked by the Royal Jubilee Exhibition of 1906 in Bucharest, when the this order was codified in the buildings presented at the event, launching its mature phase, seen there and subsequently embraced by Romanian public in the country and provinces in the neighbouring empires with significant Romanian population. During the tour we will locate and examine some of the most significant early Neoromanian buildings, such as the famous Lahovary House and a great multitude of other edifices representative of that stage of development, many of them remarkably grouped within the Icoanei Garden area of central Bucharest, and now more than a century old.

The tour costs Lei 70 (Romanian currency), book by emailing v.mandache@gmail.com or using the comments section of this post. You will be informed of meeting place on booking.

I look forward to seeing you at the tour,

Valentin Mandache/ Historic Houses of Romania – Case de Epoca, tel: 0040 (0)728323272

Walking tour: the early Neo-Romanian architectural style of Gradina Icoanei area (©Valentin Mandache)
The early Neo-Romanian architectural style of Gradina Icoanei area

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

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.

Why the ocean liner theme characterises the Art Deco architecture of Bucharest?

I noticed, from my field trips, that Bucharest’s 1930s Art Deco architecture is characterised in an ample proportion by the ocean liner theme, in much larger degree than other capitals in central and southeast Europe. Why was that the case for a town at over 200 km distance from a seashore, and from a region and country that was landlocked for much of its history, without a seafaring tradition? There were a series of captivating economic, social, and sentimental/ emotional factors and personalities at play, which concurred in producing that result, detailed in this video.

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

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’s architectural history and heritage.

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

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.

CIA and KGB spying on each other in Bucharest

There can be made interesting connections between the Cold War spying and Bucharest’s historic architecture, and no better spot to do that is the site of the former US Embassy, a La Belle Epoque architecture compound, right behind the Intercontinental hotel, which used to host CIA operatives during the decades before 1989, and what was across the road from it, the former Association for Strengthening the Relationships with the USSR (ARLUS- the acronym in Romanian), a beautiful ocean liner themed Art Deco edifice, which offered a good watching post their KGB counterparts. To complete the set, there is in between them a Mediterranean style house, where the Romanian Securitate people were watching both the Soviet and American activities going on in those strange times. I have been a student in the 1980s right in that area, my faculty being next to the US Embassy, and felt on a daily basis the heavy atmosphere imprinted by that unusual Cold War situation.

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

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’s architectural history and heritage.

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

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.

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 1 April 2018, between the hours 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 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 Saturday 31 March 2018, 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 Read more

Tour: Kiseleff area & the late Neoromanian style

Dear readers,

I would like to invite you to a thematic walking tour this Sunday 18 March 2018, 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 1930s. The Neo-Romanian style managed to survive and even thrive, until the Read more

Tour in Mosilor area

Dear readers,

This is an invitation to an architectural walking tour in Mosilor area of Bucharest, open to all of you who would like to accompany me, the author of the Historic Houses of Romania blog, Saturday 17 March 2018, for two hours, between 11.30h – 13.30h.

I will be your guide through one of the most picturesque areas of historic Bucharest, that has known a spectacular development after the unification of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia in the aftermath of the Crimean War. It is located on the road stemming from the old city toward Moldavia, known in the olden times as “The Highway” (“Drumul Mare”). Its name comes from that of the famous Mosilor fair, held outside Bucharest’s walls, where traders and peasants from Moldavia and north-eastern Wallachia came with their goods and products. Among of the most active and successful traders were the Armenians, who had Read more

Tour in Berthelot area

Historic Houses of Romania tour in Berthelot areaDear readers,

I would like to invite you to a Historic Houses of Romania walking tour, in the area centered on Mathias Berthelot Street, just north of Cismigiu Park, which is a repository of some of the most representative period architecture imprinting the personality of Romania’s capital, akin to an open air museum of its built heritage.

The tour is scheduled to take place this Sunday 4 March 2018, between the hours 12.00h – 14.00h. 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.

Mathias Berthelot, whose name is given to the main street in the area, was a French general of the Great War era, who in 1916 became the commander of the Allied mission tasked with reorganising and equipping Romania’s Royal Army, thus enabling it to effectively oppose the Central Powers and hinder their plans to occupy the country. For his achievements he was made a honorary citizen of Romania and is considered a hero of both countries. The French influence is also prevalent in the architecture of Berthelot urban space, seen in an array containing quaint Little Paris style residences, displaying Art Nouveau decorations besides, palazzos, and the best of them all, the French Renaissance inspired Kretzulescu Palace, one of the town’s iconic buildings, erected in the 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 Sunday 11 February 2018, 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 area 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 Read more

Tour in central Cotroceni

Walking tour in Cotroceni - central partDear readers,

I would like to propose you an walking architectural tour in Cotroceni quarter, in its central part, encompassing the area between St Elefterie Str. and Dr. Lister Str. The tour is scheduled to take place this Saturday 3 February 2018, 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 focus points of the central part of Cotroceni are its two parish churches, the Old St Elefterie, an edifice containing 18th c. Brancovan style architecture vestiges, serving now the deaf community, which sits on a former island in the marshes around the Dambovita river, before the quarter started to be developed in the second half of the 19th century, giving us an idea about the local environmental history, and the grand New St Elefterie church, designed by arch. Constantin Iotzu in the 1930s, in the Neoromanian style, its Byzantine persuasion variety, in a period of Romanian national triumphalism. The residential buildings date mostly from the Read more