In this article I will present a selection of roof finials adorning Neo-Romanian style houses in Bucharest. This attractive eye-catching architectural feature decorates many Neo-Romanian period buildings, being also an important value added architectural element that deserves full attention when undertaking a renovation or restoration project.
Definition: a FINIAL is the ornamental terminal feature at the top of a roof pinnacle, gable, etc. It is a conspicuous decorative element most peculiar to architectural styles that feature pointed roofs, cupolas or spires, such as the Romanesque and especially Gothic, but also Byzantine and Islamic. “Fleuron” is the French word for finial, which derives from “fleur” [French for “flower”], indicating the ornamental quintessence of this architectural feature.
Finials are highly visible artifacts marking the vertical limits of an edifice, their design, ornament and decoration encompassing in a small space the architectural spirit of that building. The Neo-Romanian style houses often feature finials, usually on the rooftop of their defining citadel-like central structure (see my previous article for a guide on the Neo-Romanian style and its features), an example being the following beautiful house that I photographed in the Cotroceni area of Bucharest.
There are a few type categories of Neo-Romanian roof finials, with the main one inspired from the Ottoman-Islamic art, with which this style is organically linked as a result of five centuries of Ottoman influence over the Orthodox high church architecture in this part of Europe. In the examples bellow the finials have geometrical motifs, strikingly similar with the Ottoman ones.
The geometrical Ottoman inspired motifs are also conspicuous in the following finials that remind the roof of a minaret
The following round examples are similar with finials encountered on Ottoman mosques and also Balkan Orthodox churches.
There is a wide variation of shapes and decorations, imprinting personality to apparently dull tiled roofs as in the examples bellow.
Rarer finial types are those inspired from the peasant everyday environment such as haystack abstractions or more spectacular shapes derived from medieval weapons, of which the mace as seen in the following example is most suitable for finial design. The mace finial signifies, within the Neo-Romanian architectural context and message, the resistance and identity of the Romanians during the Middle Ages against the raising power of the Ottomans.
The material used in making the finials adorning Neo-Romanian houses is in most cases, as I was able to see during my field obervations, zinc or lead and less often copper or brass.
The roof finials are very interesting ornamental architectural features that increase the artistic and financial value of a period property. For the Neo-Romanian style they represent important integrative elements that contribute to the coherence of this beautiful architectural order. Sadly today many Neo-Romanian period houses are in an advanced state of disrepair due to lack of resources or neglect by their owners and the authorities in charge with preserving the architectural heritage. Moreover, the roof finials being directly exposed to the elements suffer over the years to a much greater extent than other architectural features. The result is that after decades of neglect in Bucharest and elsewhere in Romania many finials have fallen down being now irretrievably lost or hang precariously from the rooftops constituting accident hazard, with apparent little interest from the locals to fix or restore them. (All Rights Reserved ©Valentin Mandache, www.viapontica.wordpress.com, email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
If you are interested in acquiring a period property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in locating the property, specialist research, planning permissions, restoration project management, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this weblog.