Tour: the architecture of the Athenaeum area

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 Sunday 11 August 2019, for two hours, between 11.30h – 13.30h. 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 Read more

Tour in Dacia area

Dear readers,

This is an invitation to an architectural history walking tour in the area centred on Dacia – Eminescu and Polona streets of Bucharest, endowed with some of the best quality historic architecture of Romania’s capital, open to all of you who would like to accompany me, the author of the Historic Houses of Romania blog on Saturday 10 August 2019 between 11.30h – 13.30h.

I will be your guide in this distinguished Bucharest quarter, packed with impressive building designs, especially Neoromanian, belonging to its mature (such as the image on the left) and late flamboyant phases, along with Art Deco and Modernist designs. Dacia also encompasses Little Paris and a multitude of mixed style buildings of a powerful personality. The architects of many of these structures were from among the golden interwar generation of such highly regarded professionals of Romania, among them Jean Monda or Jean Burcus. The zone is in Read more

Tour: Patriarchal See Hill area

Dear readers,

I would like to invite you, as the author of Historic Houses of Romania – Case de Epoca blog, to an architectural history tour in Patriarchal See Hill area of Bucharest, scheduled to take place this Sunday 14 July 2019, between 11.30h and 13.30h. This cultural excursion is open to all of you who are looking to find out more about the history and identity of Romania’s capital seen through its architectural heritage.

We will explore the urban expanse surrounding what is considered the “Acropolis” of Bucharest, the hill that dominates the old town and is the seat of the Romanian Orthodox Church, the main faith of this country, containing the patriarchal cathedral together with its administrative quarters, reworked in the interwar period by the architect Gheorghe Simotta in neo-Brancovan and Neoromanian styles. The Patriarchal See Hill area also contains the 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 13 July 2019.

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 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 7 April 2019, for two hours, between 11.30h – 13.30h.

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 Read more

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.

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 17 March 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.

The focus points of the central part of Cotroceni are its two parish churches, the Old St Elefterie, an edifice containing 18th c. Brancovan 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 the 1930s, in the Neoromanian style, its Byzantine persuasion variety, in a period of Romanian national triumphalism. The residential buildings date mostly from Read more

Tour: Plantelor area

Plantelor Street SignDear readers,

I would like to invite you to an architectural walk in the picturesque Plantelor Street area, located just east of Mantuleasa. It has an alluring residential character, with well presented historic buildings of architectural value, many surrounded by efflorescent gardens. Plantelor area is a sample of how pleasant and stimulative for artistic creativity this town has been in the La Belle Époque and the interwar periods.

The tour is scheduled to take place this Saturday 16 March 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.

The name “Plantelor” (Engl. for “Plants”) given to this iconic street, is an echo of the La Belle Époque times, when Bucharest’s houses of its famous Little Paris and also Art Nouveau architecture were provided with gardens and orchards, and the windows were sporting jardinieres full of multicoloured flowers. The local environment was considered healthier than the rest of the town, which made possible the Read more

Tour: Kiseleff area & the late Neoromanian style

Dear readers,

I would like to invite you to a thematic walking tour this Sunday 10 March 2019, 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 in Berthelot area

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 24 February 2019, 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 Read more