Tour: the Ottoman Bucharest & the Wallachian (Brancovan) 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 24 November 2018, 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 Read more

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.

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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 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.

Brief considerations on the Wallachian style

The Wallachian, also known as Brancovan, architectural forms, which unfurled in the period between the mid-c17th and the beginning of the c19th, epitomised a sublime relation between symbols representing the way of life of that period and the belief system peculiar to the place in which they took shape, namely the Principality of Wallachia. The architecture of those edifices mirrored the spiritual universe and psychology of those who erected them and the communities for whom they were built. That is the reason why the symbolism of those monuments contains the answer to the question why the architecture, especially the ecclesiastical design, has acquired a unique language during a period stretching from the end of the 17th c to the beginning of the 19th c (between the Second Vienna Siege, and the Napoleonic Wars), leading to the emergence of what we call today the Wallachian style, intrinsic to that principality and pivotal to the underpinning,  in the modern era, of the Neo-Romanian style.

The conceptual tools employed in analysing the architectural phenomenon of that age in central and western Europe are, in my opinion, not wholesomely adequate in examining the stylistic complexity of the Wallachian style buildings, where a more Read more

Impressions from my first trip to Venice (February 2000)

For those of you who speak or read Romanian, bellow is a letter send to Diana and a few close friends, detailing the deep impressions left by my first trip to Venice more than a decade ago. The Italian maritime republics, Venice and Genoa, are essential in understanding the history of the Romanian lands, deeply influencing their early medieval history and economy. The principalities of Wallachia and Moldova emerged in large part as an economic consequence of the long distance commerce carried out by Venice and Genoa between north-west Europe and Russia on the one hand and the Byzantine Empire and the rest of the Mediterranean world on the other. Venetian architects, scholars or soldiers were also often employed at the court of the medieval Romanian princes. The Brancovan architectural style, which emerged in the c17th and c18th was in part influenced by Venetian architecture. The Neo-Romanian style, developed in the national-romantic era of the late c19th and the first part of c20th, also found some of its inspiration in Venetian arts and architecture. That is why I recommend in depth cultural trips to Venice and also Genoa to anyone seriously interested in understanding the early medieval Romanian history and the evolution of the the architectural phenomenon in the region nowadays encompassed by Romania.

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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.

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

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.

Neo-Romanian style columns

Neo-Romanian style columns adorning 1920s and '30s houses, Dorobanti area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

One year ago I published on this blog a photomontage of gracious Neo-Romanian style colums that embellish private and public buildings throughout Bucharest. The new collage presented above contains again just a small sample from the great diversity of such artefacts that I found during a simple architectural photography outing last Sunday in the Dorobanti quarter of Bucharest. Often the Neo-Romanian columns are short and quite chunky, reflecting their origin in the Byzantine and Ottoman church architecture, at which is added a hint of Baroque influences, found in late medieval examples of ecclesiastical edifices in Wallachia (a combination of traits called the Brancovan style or Romanian Renaissance in specialist literature). That is the typology reflected by the columns in the above example with the exception of the upper right one, which is an interesting composition that leans toward what I usually call the Inter-war Venetian style version of the Neo-Romanian order, displaying an exuberance of grapevine motifs from leaves to grape fruit arranged together in three delicate design registers on the shaft and capital.

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I endeavor through this daily series of daily 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 a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in sourcing 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.