Wallachian history and identity in a Cyrillic inscription

Romanian language inscription rendered in Cyrillic dating from 1842, located on the southern wall of Domnita Balasa church in Bucharest – click the photograph for a more detailed view (©Valentin Mandache)

I am always enthralled when reading old inscriptions in Romanian that use the Cyrillic script. They have for me a profound identity appeal, speaking from the depths of time when versions of this script, adapted for the sounds and needs of the Romanian idioms, were used to render the language since at least the early c16th until the mid c19th, when it was replaced by the Latin script. The first monumental literature work in Romanian, the Bible of Bucharest, produced in 1688,  the equivalent of King James Bible in terms of Read more

Rare Arabic inscription on church pediment

Arabic votive inscription on Romanian church doorway, dating from 1747, Old St Spiridon Church, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

Most of what is now Romania has been for centuries a part of the Ottoman Empire. The principalities of Wallachia and Moldova, and also at a later date Transylvania, where the only autonomous Christian protectorates of this empire, governed by Christian princes, where permanent places of Muslim worship or settlement where not allowed, following special c15th autonomy treaties with the Porte. For about one hundred years, from the beginning of the c18th, Wallachia and Moldova where governed by princes from the great Istanbul Greek families, loyal subjects of the Read more

Wallachian Identity

The Wallachian Eagle, New St. George’s church, Bucharest (Valentin Mandache)

Wallachia is one of the three former principalities that together with Moldavia and Transylvania forms modern Romania. Indeed this former European state is the core of the country as it contains the city of Bucharest, the sixth largest EU metropolis (close to three million inhabitants). From an architectural point of view Wallachia is important because the initiator of the Neo-Romanian style, the architect Ion Mincu and subsequent Romanian architects used prominently, in their Neo-Romanian designs, late medieval Wallachian church inspired motifs and decorations and also traditional Wallachian building types and representations. “Wallachian” is also one of the main Romanian regional identities, the equivalent of a Midlander, Yorkshireman or East Anglian in England. This regional identity acted and was seen as a national identity for over five hundred years while Wallachia functioned as a state, since its foundation in 1330, at first independent, then under Hungarian suzerainty and later as an Ottoman Christian protectorate that kept its indigenous administration and native aristocracy, until the formation of the modern Romanian state in 1859 when afterwards the principality was abolished. There is a surprising scarcity of correct and properly documented sources on the internet about Wallachia, in fact I was not able to Read more

Magnificent Brancovan style motifs

A photomontage of resplendent c18th Byzantine style floral motifs, Stavropoles church, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

The small c18th Stavropoleos church in Bucharest is perhaps one of the most beautiful religious buildings in the entire eastern church world. The building has been a main inspiration source for the architect Ion Micu when he initiated in late c19th the Neo-Romanian style, the only original architectural design created in the state of Romania. Mincu lovingly restored the church between 1904 – ’10, toward the end of his life, when he also added a well designed cloister and outbuildings (see here an article and also a video on that subject), hosting the nuns serving the monastery with the same name. I am always most impressed, when visiting this church, by the flamboyant, colourful and full of life floral motifs decorating its exterior walls and cloister. That spurred me to put together the photo-montage above and thus try to make better known to the outside world this wonderful floral panoply, which resides at the heart of Bucharest. The cloister decoration was created by Mincu and contains a beautiful rendering, with an excellent spatial impression, of two floral motifs from the church register (seen here on the top-centre and right-hand-corner sectors of the above collage).

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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.

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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.

Potlogi Palace brief

The access stairs and veranda of Potlogi Palace, located in the environs of Bucharest, one of the archetype buildings from which the modern Neoromanian architectural style traces its origins. (©Valentin Mandache)

Potlogi Palace is an early 18th century edifice built by Italian architects for the Wallachian prince Constantin Brancoveanu, where one can still find structural elements, especially in the basement, typical of a Venetian villa rustica, decorated with an original panoply of motifs inspired from Ottoman art, but also indigenous Wallachian sources, which constituted a unique style, encountered in similar edifices commissioned by Brancoveanu and his contemporaries (i.e. Mogosoaia Palace), termed by some specialists as “Romanian Renaissance”, but usually called “Brancovan” after the name of the prince and his family. The national style of Romania, also called Neoromanian, which emerged in the late 19th c and unfurled for over six decades afterwards, uses in large part the Brancovan inheitance.

***********************************************

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 Contact page of this weblog.