Old Bucharest pebble road

Old Bucharest pebble road, Radu Voda monastery gardens, (©Valentin Mandache)

Before the advent of cubic stone paved roads in the mid-c19th and tarmac laid ones around 1900s, most of old Bucharest’s streets were unpaved. The few ones deemed essential enough to have them surfaced, such as Podul Mogosoaiei (now called Calea Victoriei), the main artery that linked the city with the north of the then Wallachian Principality, were paved with heavy oak planks, a timber provided in abundance from forests in the hilly area about 70km to the north. The smaller important inner city roads, such as those in Lipscani, the commercial quarter, or those used for princely or religious ceremonies, were paved with pebbles collected from the Dambovita riverbed, the main river course that crosses the old city. Nowadays roads surfaced with timber are of course long gone, while there are still surviving rare short stretches of pebble surfaces, mostly within the courtyards of some old churches. The photograph above shows one of those antique pavements, surviving within the Radu Voda monastery courtyard, a very short distance from the Dambovita river, from where the pebbles were sourced. The stones were transported by the river over perhaps thousand of years from the Bucegi Mountains in the Transylvanian Alps, where the Dambovita river source is. I examined them closely and was able to see the mountain rock geology from which they originate, which is mainly a sedimentary formation known as Bucegi conglomerate, which dates from the Cretaceous times, being found at altitudes  between 1000 and 2000 metre high. This small stretch is very picturesque and a telling vestige of Bucharest’s old urban fabric and identity,  which in large part has disappeared from its built environment.


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 Contact page of this weblog.


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