Targoviste Town Hall: Beaux Arts Architecture


Targoviste town hall photomontage (©Valentin Mandache)


The city of Targoviste in southern Romania, the former medieval capital of the Principality of Walachia, is endowed with a pair of impressive Beaux Arts style public buildings dating from the La Belle Époque, namely the Town Hall (“Primaria” in Romanian) and the former local prefecture headquarters, now hosting the Dambovita County Arts Museum. The style, promoted beginning with the last decades of the c19th through the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, was hugely influential in Europe, North America and beyond, being suitable especially for grand public edifices and mansions. Both Targoviste constructions were the work of the architect (some sources designate him as a builder) Giovanni Baldassare Vignossa (I found in different sources about a half dozen spelling versions for his name and settled for this one) and the decorator Giovanni Battista del Basso. They were part of the “second wave” of Italian builders, architects and artists active in the country, who have contributed in an important measure to the fabric of the built environment of what is now Romania. The “first wave” of Italians (Venetians especially) was active at the end of c17th – start of c18th, during the reign of Prince Constantin Brancoveanu, contributing to the emergence of the Brancovenesc style, a main source of inspiration for the modern Neo-Romanian architectural style. A “third wave” unfurled during the inter-war period when Italian building companies and architectural bureaus greatly contributed to the construction of the Art Deco architectural landscape in Bucharest and the rest of Romania. The “fourth wave” has started in the last decade, once the property and construction boom got underway in Romania, with the Italian construction entrepreneurs being some of most active in that area of activity. The photomontage above and the slide show bellow the text present details from different angles of the Targoviste town hall (1897). I like the balanced proportions of the building and its air of conviviality, very suitable for its role in the community. A most intriguing element among de rich decorative panoply of the building is the theme of the weathervane (a rarely used architectural element in Romania) on top of the tower, a whale with a crown on its head, which makes a sharp captivating contrast with the environment of this city located at the feet of the Transylvanian Alps, far away from the sea.

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I endeavor through this series of daily 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 a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in sourcing 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.

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