Tour: Bucharest as the Little Paris of the Balkans – Sunday 22 October

Dear readers,

I would like to invite you to a thematic walking tour, to take place on Sunday 22 October 2017, between the hours 11.30h – 13.30h, on the subject of the late c19th – early c20th French and western historicist inspired architecture of Bucharest, which made the city known to the rest of world as the “Little Paris of the Balkans”, a phenomenon that imprinted the personality of Romania’s capital ever since. The tour 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 character.

The first building boom of modern era Bucharest happened during the period aptly named La Belle Époque, which corresponds with the late Victorian and early Edwardian epochs for the English speaking world (or Gilded Age in the US). It was characterised by a charming architecture inspired especially from the flamboyant neo-baroque, neo-rococo and also neo-gothic forms fashionable in France, a country seen by the Romanians of that time as a beacon of culture worthy to emulate, and from other west European states held in high regard by the then young Balkan nation. The local architecture thus acquired a personality of its own, combining the new forms with the indigenous and Ottoman traditional motifs and construction methods, resulting in what I call, as an umbrella term, the “Little Paris style”. This is a type of architecture peculiar to the Fin de Siècle urban Romania and also to a lesser extent to the rest of the Balkans, reflecting the modernisation of the society and fusion in architecture of the western fashions together with ancestral forms. Bucharest is the best place in the entire south-east of Europe to view and study that peculiar type of architecture, which because of its still high density of buildings in various states of preservation, continues to be an important component of the local architectural heritage and identity. In the course of this tour I endeavour to show you some of the representative Little Paris style buildings found in central Bucharest, explain their architectural intricacies and the economic and social history contained within and without their walls, and thus convey how amazing the Little Paris style is.

The tour costs Lei 60 (Romanian currency) per person, 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)

Architectural walking tour – Bucharest as the Little Paris of the Balkans with Valentin Mandache
Architectural walking tour: Bucharest as the Little Paris of the Balkans

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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 advice 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.

Tour in west Cotroceni – Saturday 21 October

Cotroceni west-004
Medical Sciences University, west Cotroceni

Dear readers,

I would like to propose you an architectural history tour, in the western part of the picturesque Cotroceni quarter, which contains the grandiose edifices of the Medical Sciences University and the Palace of the President of Romania. The tour completes my series of distinct walks (east, central and west) covering this architecturally valuable area of Bucharest.

The event is scheduled to take place this Saturday 21 OCtober 2017, 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 most beautiful baroque revival style palace of Bucharest is the Medical Sciences University, the best such school in southeast Europe, designed by the Swiss architect Louis Blanc, and built in 1902, which is at the centre of west Cotroceni. Its aesthetics is auspiciously put into light by the the surrounding elegant built environment, one of the finest in the capital. You are thus going to sample, under my guidance, many of those examples, displaying a dazzling array of symbolism and messages, typical of the Neoromanian, the national architecture of this country, or the international Art DecoModernist and Mediterranean styles. The creators of many of those buildings were part of the golden generations of Romanian architects, people active mostly in the interwar period, when this part of Cotroceni was endowed with the bulk of its houses. Some of them are still being mentioned in name tablets on the walls of the residential edifices they designed, akin to the signature of a painter on canvass, people like I. Sillion, Petre Boico or Jean Burcus. Sometimes we will also encounter name tablets of inter-war building companies, such as I. Moscovici, one of the builders for the elites of the 1920s and the 1930s. That architecture is gracefully put into context by the gardens adorning many of those houses, enclosed by beautiful wrought iron fences and gates, complemented in the case of Neoromanian residences, by wooden ethnographic verandas inspired from those of the Romanian countryside. We will also catch a glimpse, as walls and gates allow, of the first-class garden refinement of Bucharest, the park of Cotroceni Palace, landscaped by Friedrich Rebhun, the designer of Cismigiu Park, and other gardeners, among them Alice Martineau, a highly qualified English gardner brought over by Queen Marie in the 1920s. The palace, designed in stages, in historicist Venetian villa rustica style, by arch. Paul Gottereau in the 1880s, and continued at the turn between the 19th and the 20th centuries by Grigore Cerkez in Neoromanian, is a famous former royal residence, now the headquarters of the presidency, constituting the other architectural focus point of west Cotroceni. All of that alluring collection of quality Bucharest architectural heritage is awaiting for you to discover as part of this Historic Houses of Romania cultural experience.

The tour costs Lei 60 (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)

If you would like to read more about the palace in Cotroceni during the royal period, there is an excellent book (album) published last year, “Cotroceniul Regal”, written by Diana Mandache, Curtea Veche Publishing. Details on Royal Romania blog.

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Period houses and old architecture details from west Cotroceni, Bucharest. ©Valentin Mandache
Cotroceni West - map
Historic Houses of Romania walking tour in west Cotroceni

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

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 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 marketing the property, specialist research, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this weblog.

Tour in Bellu Cemetery

Dear readers,

I am organising a thematic two hours walking tour (between 11.30h – 13.30h) this Saturday, 14 October 2017, on the less conventional subject of funerary architecture found within the confines of Bellu Cemetery, the most famous and exquisitely embellished necropolis of Romania, the equivalent in these parts of Europe of Paris’ Père Lachaise or London’s Highgate cemetery. It 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.

Bellu Cemetery is considered the National Pantheon of this country, containing the graves and remarkable funerary monuments of important personalities that built the modern Romanian nation, people such as Mihai Eminescu, the national poet, Ion Mincu, the initiator of the Neo-Romanian architectural style or general Christian Tell, one of the heroes of 1848 Revolution. It was opened in 1858 as a public burial ground, part of the city’s advanced urban planning developments of the Victorian era, occasioned by a Read more

Tour: Art Nouveau Bucharest

Dear readers,

I would like to invite you to a thematic architectural tour, this Sunday 24 September 2017, 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 Read more

Tour in Dacia area

Dear readers

This is an invitation to an architectural history walking tour in the area centred on Dacia – Eminescu and Polona streets of Bucharest, endowed with some of the best quality historic architecture of Romania’s capital, open to all of you who would like to accompany me, the author of the Historic Houses of Romania blog on Saturday 21 September 2017 between 11.30h – 13.30h.

I will be your guide in this distinguished Bucharest quarter, packed with impressive building designs, especially Neoromanian, belonging to its mature (such as the image on the left) and late flamboyant phases, along with Art Deco and Modernist designs. Dacia also encompasses Little Paris and a multitude of mixed style buildings of a powerful personality. The architects of Read more

Tour: The Neo-Romanian style at its peak

Dear readers,

I will organise an architectural tour this Sunday 17 September 2017, 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 expression under the impact of new, international, architectural fashions such as Art Deco and Modernism, styles also associated with cheaper and more rapid building technologies. The tour endeavours to 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 16 September 2017.

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 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 9 September 2017, 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 interwar Modernism, and also representative church buildings, various species of neo-Gothic and Read more

Tour: 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 Saturday 2 September 2017, 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 imprinting the personality of the Neoromanian, and Art Deco and Read more

Tour: the early Neo-Romanian 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 Sunday 27 August 2017, 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 Read more