100 years old Danube paddle steamer sold by the Romanian state for the price of a second hand car

"The Citadel" paddle steamer (1903) on the repair bank in Romania (Romania Libera, 28 July 2010)

In what looks like another brazen move by the corrupt Romanian officials, one of the most picturesque pieces of Romania’s heritage, the Danube paddle steamer “Cetatea” (“The Citadel”), built in 1903 and used by the then European Danube Commission, has been sold in a so-called “public” auction for Euro 7,900, practically the price of a second hand car, to a grocer, a company probably linked with the gang infested scrap iron business or other unsavoury activities that are springing now up in crisis hit Romania. The story is detailed in the today edition of the newspaper Romania Libera. This is just another heritage loss, just as the continuous destruction of the country’s architectural heritage, practically unnoticed or decried by a public that does not care about its identity after five decades of communist brain wash and subsequent two decades of Russian oligarchic style transition to a market economy. Romania’s EU membership seems to be completely ineffectual in the face of these never punished broad daylight destructions and misappropriations of important pieces of European heritage.

Immured Neo-Romanian Doorway: A Sign of Our Times

A former Neo-Romanian style doorway immured by the ignorant owners of this late 1920s house, under the indifferent eye of the authorities, a frequent occurrence in today Romania. Iconei area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

The doorways of the Neo-Romanian style houses are flamboyant architectural structures that enhance the aesthetic and money value of the property lucky enough to feature them. An example of an beautiful such doorway can be seen by clicking here. Unfortunately in Bucharest and Romania in general, a multitude of those property owners, are not educated enough to appreciate the great worth of their asset and try to preserve it. I posted some weeks ago an article about a well off, but ignorant owner, click for access here, who replaced an old Art Nouveau doorway with a new DIY store abomination, of which he or she was probably very proud. These people are also oblivious to the fact that they have a responsibility to the community and the nation as the custodians and carers of those historic houses. The authorities share in a great degree their low quality educational background and disregard of the collective identity and history, with the result that the architectural heritage of Romania is destroyed now on a massive scale by its own citizens. The example above with the immured Neo-Romanian style doorway only one of the  many such occurrences, right in the heart of Bucharest, close to embassies and high end properties. It just gives an idea of the scale of this epidemic phenomenon and the huge task ahead of educating the public about the value of its heritage and architectural identity.

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I endeavor through this daily series of images and small 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 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.