The early Wallachian style of Balteni church (1626)

This is a brief examination of the emergence of the Wallachian architectural style in the example of Balteni church, 20km north of Bucharest. The nave dates from the early 17th c, and is of a transitional architecture between the old Bulgarian style (the north Balkans Byzantine style) and the indigenous Wallachian one, which emerges properly in the mid-17th c. Here we can also see what I consider elements of Moldavian style (a Byzantine architecture imbued by the Gothic) influence. All of these give tantalising clues about the roots of the architecture native to the principality of Wallachia, the Wallachian style, aka Brancovenesc.

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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 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 13.00h – 15.00h, on Sunday 13 November 2022.

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 admire the Read more

Tour: the Ottoman Bucharest & the Wallachian style

Dear readers,

I would like to invite you to a walking tour on the subject of the unique to Romania, Wallachian architecture, also known as Brancovan, an enthralling artistic current of fusion between local Byzantine traditions, Islamic ones of the Ottoman Empire, together with European Renaissance and Baroque elements, an expression of this land being at the juncture of the European and the Oriental civilisations. It emerged in the Principality of Wallachia, chiefly in the 18th century, in an age of stability and prosperity for this frontier province of the Sublime Porte. Bucharest became firmly established as its capital in that period, and, as a result, is endowed with a great assembly of architectural monuments displaying this singular style.

The tour is scheduled to take place on Saturday 12 November 2022, between 13.00h – 15.00h. 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, and the social and economic processes underlying it.

Although Bucharest is now a national capital within the European Union, linked primarily with Central and Western Europe, for most of its history, until the last quarter of the 19th century, the town was part of the Ottoman world, of the same mighty empire as Mecca, Damascus, Baghdad, Cairo or Tunis. That will give you a perspective of the enormous influence of the Turkish sultanate in this corner of Europe. Add to those geopolitical and cultural coordinates, the remarkable situation of Wallachia, together with neighbouring Moldavia, as the only Christian protectorates of the Islamic empire of the Porte, with their own Christian princes and aristocracy, not colonised with Muslim populations. The mix constituted a civilisational Petri dish inside which the Wallachian (Brancovan) art and architecture got crystallised and evolved. Its European Renaissance and Baroque inputs came via the circuitous route of Istanbul too, through the absorption of Enlightenment ideas by the cosmopolitan Ottoman capital, fanned over to its provinces, and not how one would expect, from the next door Austrian Empire, present over the Carpathian mountains, in Transylvania, where their rugged crest was not only a geographical obstacle with Europe, but also a cultural barrier. Read more

Sketching Palermo Cathedral

This was a small break during my October 2022 Sicily Study Trip, where I focused on the Arabo-Norman style architecture. The exterior of the Palermo Cathedral is one of the most extensive such relics in existence, and dates from the time of the Norman King William the Good and English archbishop Walter, inaugurated in 1185. The altar apse and its eastern end, which were the object of my sketch preserve the highest concentration of Arabo-Norman style designs and symbolism. There can also be glimpsed Byzantine and Romanesque elements.

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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 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.

Tour: the Art Deco of Domenii quarter

Domenii text start En -750x500 ADear Readers,

I would like to propose you a tour dedicated to the first class Art Deco style architecture of Domenii quarter, guided by me, Valentin Mandache, the architectural historian, and open to all of you who would like to finding out in a learned, interdisciplinary, but easy to comprehend manner about the cultural and architectural identity of Bucharest, scheduled to take place this Sunday 23 October 2022, between the hours 11.30h – 13.30h.

Domenii is important as an architectural landmark for Bucharest, revealed by the fact that in the past has been the host of a part of the city’s professional elite, comprising especially high and medium rank officials from the interwar Ministry of Agriculture and of the Royal Domains, hence its name, and also pilots and aircraft engineers who worked at the nearby airport and its famous aviation workshops. The area has been built between the beginning of the 1920s and the end of the 1950s, a period that saw a major economic depression, the rise of the far right in politics, dictatorships, the war, the Soviet invasion, the communist takeover, and the local Stalinism. The beauty of the architecture of this corner of Bucharest, remarkably created during those adversities and vicissitudes, is 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 18 September 2022, 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 Read more

Tour: The Neo-Romanian style at its peak

Dear readers,

I will organise an architectural tour this Saturday 17 September 2022, 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 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 11 September 2022, between the hours 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.

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 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 10 September, 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 Read more

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 4 September 2022, 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 Wallachian style churches, some dating from the late c17th, picturesque French c19th historicist and Read more