Tour: the Art Deco of Domenii quarter – Sunday 26 September

Dear readers,

I would like to propose you a tour dedicated to the first class Art Deco style architecture of Domenii quarter, guided by me, Valentin Mandache, the architectural historian, and open to all of you who would like to finding out in a learned, interdisciplinary, but easy to comprehend manner about the cultural and architectural identity of Bucharest, scheduled to take place this Sunday 26 September, between the hours 11.00h – 13.00h.

Domenii is important as an architectural landmark for Bucharest, revealed by the fact that in the past has been the host of a part of the city’s professional elite, comprising especially high and medium rank officials from the interwar Ministry of Agriculture and of the Royal Domains, hence its name, and also pilots and aircraft engineers who worked at the nearby airport and its famous aviation workshops. The area has been built between the beginning of the 1920s and the end of the 1950s, a period that saw a major economic depression, the rise of the far right in politics, dictatorships, the war, the Soviet invasion, the communist takeover, and the local Stalinism. The beauty of the architecture of this corner of Bucharest, remarkably created during those adversities and vicissitudes, is an extraordinary proof of the resilience of the human spirit, in general, and of the community of this place, in particular. Domenii quarter thus became an architectural reservation for the Art Deco and Modernist designs for Romania’s capital, moreover encompassing a number of splendid houses in Neo-Romanian and other examples of inter-war and immediately post-war styles. We will have the opportunity to see and examine buildings designed by important names from the pleiad of architects of great talent from those times, such as Dimitrie Ionescu-Berechet, Alexandru Zamfiropol, Pandele Serbanescu or Victor Asquini, to cite just a few from the multitude of those creators.

Domenii, is now, judging from the municipality’s rules and regulations, a protected architectural area, but despite that particular heritage status, is suffering irreversible deteriorations caused by those who perform unprofessional renovations, or adopt architectural designs that disfigure the historic character of this prestigious area. Preserved houses and original fragments of those on which has been intervened upon, of that amazing interwar architecture, are awaiting to be discovered, admired and discussed by you, as part of this cultural excursion.

The tour costs Lei 90 (Romanian currency) per person, book by emailing v.mandache@gmail.com or using the comments section of this post. I will inform you of the meeting place after receiving the 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)

The Art Deco style of Domenii quarter – a Valentin Mandache guided tour
Architectural tour: the Art Deco of Domenii quarter

Tour: the architecture of the Athenaeum area – Saturday 25 September

Historic Houses of Romania tour in central BucharestDear readers,

I would like to invite you to an architectural history tour to take place in central Bucharest, in the area around the former Royal Palace, which contains the Romanian Athenaeum, the symbol of this town and many other landmark buildings that imprint its personality. The tour is scheduled on Saturday 25 September 2021, for two hours, between 11.00h – 13.00h. This cultural excursion 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 identity.

Bucharest has had a number of central areas as it evolved from a medieval market town in what is now the Lipscani quarter, within a bend of the Dambovita river, afterward periodically shifting its location, following directions toward the main regional trading partners: to the south and east during the centuries of Ottoman domination, or to the north once the European powers had the upper hand in the region. What we call today the centre of Romania’s capital, the objective of our tour, emerged less than one and a half centuries ago, encompassing some of its most iconic historic architecture, from the Athenaeum, a magnificent concert hall in the Beaux Arts style, built in a first phase in 1888, designed by the French architect Albert Galleron, to the neoclassical outlines of the former Royal Palace (arch. N. Nenciulescu, 1937) that today hosts the National Art Museum, or the futuristic glass structure that crowns the neo-Renaissance building of the former Habsburg Empire’s Embassy gutted by fire in the anticommunist revolution of 1989. We will also examine the Athenee Palace hotel, the famous spy-nest where British, US and German spies tried to outwit each other in the years and months right before the Second World War, or the  despised former Communist Party’s Central Committee headquarters, where the dictator Ceausescu and his wife had to leave in haste to meet their fate, pursued by the revolted people of Bucharest, marking the end on one of the harshest dictatorships in Europe. The area is also still bearing bullet marks from the anticommunist revolution or even older traces left by the German air raid of August 1944. We will also visit and examine the site of the former National Theatre, the equivalent of England’s the Globe for Romania, and Cretzulescu Church, a masterwork of the Wallachian style, peculiar to the province of Wallachia, among many other objectives. All of those exquisite sights, concentrated in a quite small perimeter, enclosing some of the most important architectural landmarks of this town are awaiting to be discovered and photographed by you!

The tour costs 90 Lei (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 tour in central Bucharest
Architectural history tour in the Athenaeum area of Bucharest

Historic Houses of Romania architectural tour in central Bucharest
Architectural history tour in the Athenaeum 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: 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 18 September 2021, between 11.00h – 13.00h. 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 Read more

Tour in Bellu Cemetery

Dear readers,

I will be conducting a thematic walking tour this Sunday 15 August 2021, between 10.00h – 12.00h, 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 Batistei area

Walking tour in Batistei area of BucharestBatistei area – a fragment of the old Little Paris

Dear readers,

I would like to invite you to an architectural tour focused on Batistei area, one of the most charming old corners of central Bucharest, with many of its buildings dating from from the La Belle Époque period, in a wonderful Little Paris architecture, which is still imprinting this town’s identity, a place where one can also admire other brilliant designs such as Neoromanian, Art Deco and inter-war Modernism. The walk is scheduled to take place this Saturday 14 August 2021, between 10.00h – 12.00h. 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 Batistei area stretches east from the National Theatre neighbourhood to the confines of the Mosilor, constituting an important part of historic Bucharest. Its name comes from that of the church around which the parish has crystalised in medieval times, which in its turn is a place name meaning in old Romanian language a “swampy lake,” a testimony of the former local natural environment that has been taken over by the town’s inexorable development. The church is also Read more

Tour: The Neo-Romanian style at its peak

Dear readers,

I will organise an architectural tour this Sunday 1 August 2021, between the hours 10.00h – 12.00h, 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 eloquently presented to the wider public of that epoch, and went on until the end of the third decade of the c20th, when it reached a certain crisis of expression under the impact of new, international, architectural fashions such as 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 10.30h – 12.30h, on Saturday 24 July 2021.

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 Read more

Tour in Mosilor area

Dear readers,

This is an invitation to an architectural walking tour in Mosilor area of Bucharest, open to all of you who would like to accompany me, the author of the Historic Houses of Romania blog, Sunday 18 July 2021, for two hours, between 10.30h – 12.30h.

I will be your guide through one of the most picturesque areas of historic Bucharest, that has known a spectacular development after the unification of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia in the aftermath of the Crimean War. It is located on the road stemming from the old city toward Moldavia, known in the olden times as “The Highway” (“Drumul Mare”). Its name comes from that of the famous Mosilor fair, held outside Bucharest’s walls, where traders and peasants from Moldavia and north-eastern Wallachia came Read more

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 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