Tour: the Ottoman Bucharest & the Wallachian (Brancovan) style – Saturday 6 April

Dear readers,

I would like to invite you to a walking tour on the subject of the unique to Romania, Wallachian architecture, also known as Brancovan, an enthralling artistic current of fusion between local Byzantine traditions, Islamic ones of the Ottoman Empire, together with European Renaissance and Baroque elements, an expression of this land being at the juncture of the European and the Oriental civilisations. It emerged in the Principality of Wallachia, chiefly in the 18th century, in an age of stability and prosperity for this frontier province of the Sublime Porte. Bucharest became firmly established as its capital in that period, and, as a result, is endowed with a great assembly of architectural monuments displaying this singular style.

The tour is scheduled to take place on Saturday 6 April 2019, between 11.30h – 13.30h. This cultural excursion could be of interest to any of you visiting Romania’s capital as a tourist or on business, looking to understand the character of this metropolis, through discovering its peculiar and fascinating old architecture, and the social and economic processes underlying it.

Although Bucharest is now a national capital within the European Union, linked primarily with Central and Western Europe, for most of its history, until the last quarter of the 19th century, the town was part of the Ottoman world, of the same mighty empire as Mecca, Damascus, Baghdad, Cairo or Tunis. That will give you a perspective of the enormous influence of the Turkish sultanate in this corner of Europe. Add to those geopolitical and cultural coordinates, the remarkable situation of Wallachia, together with neighbouring Moldavia, as the only Christian protectorates of the Islamic empire of the Porte, with their own Christian princes and aristocracy, not colonised with Muslim populations. The mix constituted a civilisational Petri dish inside which the Wallachian (Brancovan) art and architecture got crystallised and evolved. Its European Renaissance and Baroque inputs came via the circuitous route of Istanbul too, through the absorption of Enlightenment ideas by the cosmopolitan Ottoman capital, fanned over to its provinces, and not how one would expect, from the next door Austrian Empire, present over the Carpathian mountains, in Transylvania, where their rugged crest was not only a geographical obstacle with Europe, but also a cultural barrier.

In essence the Wallachian architecture looks like the coalescence between a church and a mosque. To the fresh eye of the visitor, it resembles a puzzling kaleidoscope of Byzantine, Central Asian, Russian – Tatar, or Spanish Moorish facetes, a place where East meets West. The Wallachian style is thus a Christian artistic expression within the reality of the political, economic and cultural primacy of the Muslim dominion of the Ottoman realm. With its keel arches, sustained by Byzantine columns, mocarabes, rich floral decorations of Persian inspiration, Baroque pilasters and Renaissance window and doorway surrounds, the Wallachian design is an unique expression of artistic genius, which in the subsequent modern era of the national state became the main source of inspiration for the national architecture, the Neo-Romanian style, another vital component of the local built landscape.

The tour covers parts of Bucharest old town in Lipscani area, and adjacent stretches, where we will analyse the Wallachian architecture in the context of the contemporary town, in order to make sense of its message. The focus is on ecclesiastical edifices, like Coltea, Stavropoleos or the New Saint George’s churches, displaying most comprehensively and flamboyantly the elements of the Wallachian style. We will also examine and discuss some of the extant or reconstructed Ottoman buildings, providing us an image of the town as it was between the late 17th century and the early 19th century, when the Wallachian design emerged and thrived, such as the Lime Tree Grove Han (inn), Manuc Han, or remnants of the Old Princely Court. We will revisit the times of Serban Cantacuzino and Constantin Brancoveanu, princes of Wallachia, during whom the style has reached its zenith, and then chart its evolution amid the long 18th century, of the Phanariot regime, in this principality.

All of that alluring collection of quality Bucharest architectural heritage is awaiting for you to discover as part of this Historic Houses of Romania cultural experience.

The tour costs Lei 70 (Romanian currency) per person, book by emailing v.mandache@gmail.com or using the comments section of this post. You will be informed of the meeting place after I receive the booking.

I look forward to seeing you at the tour,

Valentin Mandache, architectural historian, tel: 0040 (0)728323272

Tour: the Ottoman Bucharest and the Wallachian (Brancovan) architectural style
Tour: the Ottoman Bucharest and the Wallachian (Brancovan) architectural style

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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.

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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.

Buzau old high street

A presentation of the old commercial street of the town of Buzay in southeast Romania. Its origins date back from the Ottoman times, and it is still retaining an Oriental character. The architecture is still on large portions in Little Paris style, the ornate facades and wrought iron balcony, in provincial fashions typical of the prosperous years of the La Belle Epoque period.

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My aim, through this series of blog articles, is to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania and Southeast Europe, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of world’s architectural history and heritage.

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If you have a historic house project in Romania or other country in Southeast Europe, I would be delighted to advise you in aspects pertaining to its architectural history and ways to preserve as much as possible from its period fabric and aesthetics in the course of restoration or renovation works, or to counsel you with specialist consultancy work related to that project. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this website.

Buzau Commune Palace

Buzau Commune Palace (Palatul Comunal, in Romanian) is a beautiful major piece of public architecture in the early Neo-Romanian style. Its designer is arch. Alexandru Savulescu, and was built between 1899-1903. It exhibits particular characteristics, such as a round/ multifaceted tower, enfilade galleries on the ground level and Art Nouveau overtones. It is one of the amplest edifices in the entire country in the early phase of Romania’s national style.

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

My aim, through this series of blog articles, is to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania and Southeast Europe, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of world’s architectural history and heritage.

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

If you have a historic house project in Romania or other country in Southeast Europe, I would be delighted to advise you in aspects pertaining to its architectural history and ways to preserve as much as possible from its period fabric and aesthetics in the course of restoration or renovation works, or to counsel you with specialist consultancy work related to that project. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this website.

Wood burning stoves of the Ottoman era

The domestic heating devices of the Ottoman era Wallachia and Moldavia were the wood burning stoves made from cob, sun dried brick, and/ or burned earth brick, a sort of transition fireplace from the open hearth one typical of the more meridional territories of the Ottoman Empire and the brick and majolica stoves of Central Europe. This video explains their typology, and also elements of symbolism associated with their decoration and design.

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

My aim, through this series of blog articles, is to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania and Southeast Europe, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of world architectural history and heritage.

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

If you have a historic house project in Romania or other country in Southeast Europe, I would be delighted to advise you in aspects pertaining to its architectural history and ways to preserve as much as possible from its period fabric and aesthetics in the course of restoration or renovation works, or to counsel you with specialist consultancy work related to that project. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this website.

Cob wall rendering

A presentation of traditional wall rendering and construction made from cob, in a village in the Baragan Prairie in southeastern Romania. The cob is a traditional building material in the prairiei areas, made from clay, horse or cow manure, chopped straw, mixed with water and is an excellent construction and insulation compound.

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

My aim, through this series of blog articles, is to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania and Southeast Europe, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of world architectural history and heritage.

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

If you have a historic house project in Romania or other country in Southeast Europe, I would be delighted to advise you in aspects pertaining to its architectural history and ways to preserve as much as possible from its period fabric and aesthetics in the course of restoration or renovation works, or to counsel you with specialist consultancy work related to that project. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this website.

Rabid People’s Church – an architectural history

The Rabid People’s Church (“Schitul Turbati” in Romanian) in Silistea Snagovului, 30 miles north of Bucharest, is a little known architectural gem, in which the evolution of architecture in the Principality of Wallachia, in nowadays southern Romania, can be traced for the last eight centuries, when the church was probably first built during the Latin Empire of Constantinople in the aftermath of the 4th Crusade. In this presentation I expound how the church came to encompass local traditions forged in wooden church architecture, together with Byzantine, Bulgarian – Serbian, Western (Hungarian via Transylvania) and Ottoman traditions. One can see there the green shoots of the Wallachian, aka Brancovan, style, which emerged in the 16th c, and is a principal fountain of inspiration for the Neo-Romanian, the national style of modern Romania.

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

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 advise 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.

Broadcasting from the Church of the Rabid People

A brief presentation of the old church now located within the village cemetery in Silistea Snagovului, 30 miles north of Bucharest. Initially, in the Middle Ages, the church was at the heart of a nuns’ community specialised in treating people affected by rabies, hence its name “The Church of the Rabid People”. It represents a very interesting example of transition of architectural styles from the wooden type of church to a brick one, from the Serbian-Bulgarian style to the incipient Wallachian, aka Brancovan style, indigenous to the Principality of Wallachia. The church is in this form since the mid 16th century.

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

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 advise 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.

From the island where Vlad the Impaler is buried

A short broadcast from the bridge linking the mainland with the island where Vlad the Impaler is probably buried- the historical geography of the area and the historic and cultural context of this place, and how is affected by the contemporary urban development of the area, and the uncouth attitudes of the corrupt moneyed people of post-communist Romania, who are infesting the banks of the lake next to the island where this historic personage is said to be buried.

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

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 advise 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.

At the grave of Vlad the Impaler

Thoughts at the probably grave of the fabled prince of Wallachia, Vlad the Impaler, at Snagov Monastery Church, about 20 miles north of Bucharest, on an island within a lake. Vlad the Impaler, the model for Dracula in Bram Stoker’s novel with that name, lived a tumultuous and cruel life in the 15th century, fighting for the independence of his principality against the mighty Ottoman Empire and the powerful medieval Hungarian Kingdom. The grave is set in a very peaceful context, in front of the altar of the church, in the middle of an island, located at the centre of the Lower Danube Prairie.

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

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 advise 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.