Fairy Tale Architecture

An interesting fairy tale castle architecture example; a style that became popular during the prosperous oil export boom period of late 1930s in Romania. House in Carol Park area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

In late 1930s, after the world economic crisis, Romania struck lucky with its large oil reserves and ensuing exports. The country grew prosperous and that enabled the emergence of a diversified and flamboyant architecture in Bucharest and the rest of the country, which experimented in a diversity of styles from Neo-Romanian to the most brilliant international modernist style in the vein of Le Corbusier’s school. In the end that oil wealth proved to be a curse, subsequently taken over by Nazi Germany and becoming the main oil supplier for their war machine. As a result, the country suffered terrible bombing raids from the Allies (see the US bombing of Ploiesti oil refineries, one of the largest such actions during WWII). A peculiar result in architectural terms of the late 1930s boom period was the emergence of a fairy tale type architecture in Bucharest catering for the more frivolous tastes of some of the local patrons. It is on the borderline between the fashion introduced by the Disney films that became popular at that time and the longing of the wealthy locals for exotic places, especially for those around the Mediterranean. Some contemporary Romanian tourist and cultural guides call it erroneously as “Moorish” style, an allusion to the Spain’s Muslim era architecture. An eloquent example is the house above, which I photographed in the area of Carol Park, which models such a fairy tale castle with a jumble of interesting ogee and round arched windows and towers provided with crenellations, indeed a delight for those long gone easy times.


I endeavor through this daily image series to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural heritage.


If you plan acquiring a historic 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 Contactpage of this weblog.


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