Tour in Berthelot area – Sunday 27 June

Historic Houses of Romania tour in Berthelot areaDear readers,

I would like to invite you to a Historic Houses of Romania walking tour, in the area centered on Mathias Berthelot Street, just north of Cismigiu Park, which is a repository of some of the most representative period architecture imprinting the personality of Romania’s capital, akin to an open air museum of its built heritage.

The tour is scheduled to take place this Sunday 27 June 2021, between the hours 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.

Mathias Berthelot, whose name is given to the main street in the area, was a French general of the Great War era, who in 1916 became the commander of the Allied mission tasked with reorganising and equipping Romania’s Royal Army, thus enabling it to effectively oppose the Central Powers and hinder their plans to occupy the country. For his achievements he was made a honorary citizen of Romania and is considered a hero of both countries. The French influence is also prevalent in the architecture of Berthelot urban space, seen in an array containing quaint Little Paris style residences, displaying Art Nouveau decorations besides, palazzos, and the best of them all, the French Renaissance inspired Kretzulescu Palace, one of the town’s iconic buildings, erected in the early 1900, designed by arch. Petre Antonescu. The Radio Broadcasting House is another important edifice, built at the height of the Stalinist era, but designed during the previous, fascist, dictatorship, in Mussolinian style, by arch. Tiberiu Ricci. A local focal point is Luigi Cazzavillan Park, a picturesque green corner, landscaped in the manner of French and Italian parks of the La Belle Époque period, commemorating the Italian origin journalist with that name, who founded the first mass-circulation newspaper of Romania, Universul. Another focus is the building of the Ministry of Education, an early Neoromanian style edifice, erected at the turn between the 19th and the 20th centuries, celebrating the school reformer Spiru Haret, the initiator of the modern state sponsored education system in this Balkan country, and the only Romanian having his name given to a crater on the Moon. The area is also known for the the main worshiping place of the Catholics of Bucharest, the St Joseph Cathedral, built in the 1880s, in a historicist style inspired from the early north Italian Renaissance, by the Austrian architects Friederich Schmidt and Carol Benesch. An architect associated with the Catholic community, Carol Cortobius, has designed a remarkable Art Nouveau house, not far from the church, inspired from the Secession movement, which we are going to examine and admire as part of this tour. The architecture of Berthelot area also encompasses magnificent examples of residential buildings in Neoromanian, Art Deco and also inter-war Modernist styles, the later epitomised by a remarkable apartment block from the late 1930s, by Ion and Tiberiu Niga architectural bureau, who were among the creators of Bucharest’s interwar skyline. By now, from the above descriptions, you can probably sense that this relatively small urban territory, is abundantly endowed with quality historic architecture, from public to domestic edifices, awaiting to be discovered and examined by you, under my guidance, as part of this Historic Houses of Romania cultural walk.

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 meeting place on booking. There is a limit of seven participants to this tour, which will take place according to the Covid regulations in force on that day.

I look forward to seeing you at the tour,

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

Historic Houses of Romania walking tour in Berthelot area of Bucharest
Valentin Mandache, architectural historian: walking tour in Berthelot area of Bucharest
Historic Houses of Romania walking tour in Berthelot area
Valentin Mandache, architectural historian: walking tour in Berthelot area of Bucharest

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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 Contactpage of this weblog.

Tour: Bucharest as the Little Paris of the Balkans – Saturday 26 June

Dear readers,

I would like to invite you to a thematic walking tour, to take place on Saturday 26 June 2021, between the hours 11.30h – 13.30h, on the subject of the late c19th – early c20th French and western historicist inspired architecture of Bucharest, which made the city known to the rest of world as the “Little Paris of the Balkans”, a phenomenon that imprinted the personality of Romania’s capital ever since. The tour may be of interest to any of you visiting the city as a tourist or on business, looking to find out more about its fascinating historic architecture and character.

The first building boom of modern era Bucharest happened during the period aptly named La Belle Époque, which corresponds with the late Victorian and early Edwardian epochs for the English speaking world (or Gilded Age in the US). It was characterised by a charming architecture inspired especially from the flamboyant neo-Baroque, neo-Rococo and also neo-Gothic forms fashionable in France, a country seen by the Romanians of that time as a beacon of culture worthy to emulate, and from other west European states held in high regard by the then young Balkan nation. The local architecture thus acquired a personality of its own, combining the new forms with the indigenous and Ottoman traditional motifs and methods, resulting in what I call, as an umbrella term, the “Little Paris style”. This is a type of architecture peculiar to the Fin de Siècle urban Romania and also to a lesser extent to the rest of the Balkans, reflecting the modernisation of the society and fusion in architecture of the western fashions together with ancestral forms. Bucharest is the best place in the entire south-east of Europe to view and study that peculiar type of architecture, which because of its still high density of buildings in various states of preservation, continues to be an important component of the local architectural heritage and identity. In the course of this tour I endeavour to show you some of the representative Little Paris style buildings found in central Bucharest, explain their architectural intricacies and the economic and social history contained within and without their walls, and thus convey how amazing the Little Paris style is.

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 meeting place on booking. There is a limit of seven participants to this tour, which will take place according to the Covid regulations in force on that day.

I look forward to seeing you at the tour,

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

Architectural walking tour – Bucharest as the Little Paris of the Balkans with Valentin Mandache
Architectural walking tour: Bucharest as the Little Paris of the Balkans

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

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.

Tour in west Cotroceni

Cotroceni west-004
Medical Sciences University, west Cotroceni

Dear readers,

I would like to propose you an architectural history tour, in the western part of the picturesque Cotroceni quarter, which contains the grandiose edifices of the Medical Sciences University and the Palace of the President of Romania. The tour completes my series of distinct walks (east, central and west) covering this architecturally valuable area of Bucharest.

The event is scheduled to take place this Saturday 19 June 2021, 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.

The most beautiful baroque revival style palace of Bucharest is the Medical Sciences University, the best such school in southeast Europe, designed by the Swiss architect Louis Blanc, and built in 1902, which is at the centre of west Cotroceni. Its aesthetics is auspiciously put into light by the the surrounding elegant built environment, one of the finest in the capital. You are thus going to sample, under my guidance, many Read more

Tour in Bellu Cemetery

Dear readers,

I will be conducting a thematic walking tour this Saturday 12 June 2021, between 11.30h – 13.30h, on the less conventional subject of funerary architecture found within the confines of Bellu Cemetery, the most famous and exquisitely embellished necropolis of Romania, the equivalent in these parts of Europe of Paris’ Père Lachaise or London’s Highgate cemetery. It may be of interest to any of you visiting the town as a tourist or on business, looking to find out more about its fascinating historic architecture and identity.

Bellu Cemetery is considered the National Pantheon of this country, containing the graves and remarkable funerary monuments of important personalities that built the modern Romanian nation, people such as Mihai Eminescu, the national poet, Ion Mincu, the initiator of the Neo-Romanian architectural style or general Christian Tell, one of the heroes of 1848 Revolution. It was opened in 1858 as a public burial ground, part of the city’s advanced urban planning developments of the Victorian era, occasioned by a fast increase in population, when Read more

Tour in Mantuleasa

Dear Readers,

This is an invitation to an architectural history tour in Mantuleasa quarter of Bucharest, open to all of you who would like to accompany me, the author of the Historic Houses of Romania blog, this Sunday 6 June 2021, between the hours 11.30h – 13.30h.

I will be your guide in this fabled part of the old city, much talked about in the novels of Mircea Eliade, one of the brightest writers and historians ever produced by Romania, who spent there his childhood and early formative years. The quarter used to be one of the most ethnically mixed areas of Bucharest, endowed with a very diverse and exuberant period architecture ranging from beautiful Wallachian style churches, some dating from the late c17th, picturesque French c19th historicist and Art Nouveau architecture to flamboyant inter-war Neo-Romanian and Read more

Tour: Kiseleff area & the late Neoromanian style

Dear readers,

I would like to invite you to a thematic walking tour this Saturday 5 June 2021, on the subject of the late phase of the Neo-Romanian architectural style, which unfurled mainly in the fourth and the fifth decades of the c20th, a period when this order peculiar to Romania reached a crisis in terms of expression, mitigated by a fascinating synthesis with the Art Deco, Mediterranean and Modernist styles. The tour takes two hours, between 11.30h – 13.30h, and it may be of interest to those of you visiting the city as a tourist or on business, looking to find out more about its enchanting historic architecture and identity.

The modern construction technologies that emerged in the roaring twenties affording the development of light, airy structures expressed in the Art Deco and Modernist architecture, were quite antithetical to the traditionally ornate, heavy-built Neo-Romanian style edifices, as typical to its early and mature phases. That led to a crisis within this indigenous architectural order, threatened also by the Read more

Tour: the Ottoman Bucharest & the Wallachian style

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 22 May 2021, 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, Read more

Tour in east Cotroceni

Cotroceni East-13-3
Costache Negri fountain, east Cotroceni

Dear Readers,

I would like to invite you to an architecture history walk in one of the prestigious quarters of Bucharest, Cotroceni, its eastern, older, part, centred on the area between Dr. Nicolae Staicovici Street and Dr. Joseph Lister Street. This cultural excursion is open to all of you who would like to accompany me, the author of Historic Houses of Romania blog, for two hours, between 11.30h – 13.30h, on Saturday 3 October 2020.

I will be your guide through one of the best quality historic architecture areas of Romania’s capital, constituted from an array of exquisite Little Paris, Neoromanian, and Art Deco and Modernist style houses, intercalated with some alluring examples of Art Nouveau and Mediterranean. The eastern part of Cotroceni is also its oldest, containing one of the best preserved laid out property developments from the Fin de Siècle years. These edifices were built mainly by people belonging to the professional classes of Romania, especially medical doctors and army high echelon officers, of the La Belle Époque and interwar periods. They constructed their residences close by the Read more

Tour: The Neo-Romanian style at its peak

Dear readers,

I will organise an architectural tour this Sunday 20 September 2020, between the hours 11.30h – 13.30h, on the subject of the mature phase of the Neo-Romanian architectural style, when it reached a peak in terms of expression and development. That represents an extraordinary creative period, unfurled throughout the first three decades of the c20th, which produced the most iconic and accomplished edifices in this manner of architectural design specific to Romania and neighbouring regions where the country had influence. The Neo-Romanian style had thus became the most visible identity marker of this nation and is now considered its chief contribution to the world’s built heritage. Bucharest is the best endowed place with edifices in that architecture, with a great selection of buildings from the period when the Neo-Romanian reach its magnificence. The tour may be of interest to any of you working as expatriates here or visiting the town, looking to find out more about its fascinating historic architecture and identity.

The mature phase of the Neo-Romanian style was initiated with the Great Royal Jubilee Exhibition of 1906 in Bucharest, when the pavilions of that venue were designed according to rigorous tenets, and the style was thus first properly and Read more

Tour in central Cotroceni

Walking tour in Cotroceni - central partDear readers,

I would like to propose you an walking architectural tour in Cotroceni quarter, in its central part, encompassing the area between St Elefterie Str. and Dr. Lister Str. The tour is scheduled to take place this Sunday 6 September 2020, 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.

The focus points of the central part of Cotroceni are its two parish churches, the Old St Elefterie, an edifice containing 18th c. Wallachian style architecture vestiges, serving now the deaf community, which sits on a former island in the marshes around the Dambovita river, before the quarter started to be developed in the second half of the 19th century, giving us an idea about the local environmental history, and the grand New St Elefterie church, designed by arch. Constantin Iotzu in Read more