The Jewish Community Museum in Bucharest

The Jewish Community Museum in Bucharest, formerly the Tailor's Guild's Great Synagogue. (©Valentin Mandache)

This impressive and well designed synagogue, one of the largest in Romania, was founded in the early part of the c19th to serve as the worship place for the Tailors’ Guild’s community, which had many families located in that area of Bucharest (Unirea Square, Mamulari St.) The actual architecture dates from 1908 – ’10, designed by the architect Julius Grunfeld in a style similar to that of other Victorian era synagogues from Central and Eastern Europe, containing motifs ranging from classical, Byzantine to oriental elements, with a series of discrete details inspired from local Romanian architecture. The building suffered extensive damage in the early 1940s, perpetrated by Romanian fascist gangs (the murderous national-socialist paramilitary organisation called ‘Archangel Michael’s Legion’). A public role for this edifice was again established only a few decades later in late 1970s as the Jewish Community Museum (official name “The History Museum of the Romanian Jews – Chief Rabbi Dr. Moses Rosen”), an excellent place to visit and find out about this once lively and thriving local community. The Jewish community of Romania has a long history, dating from the times when these lands were part of the Roman Empire two millennia ago and has also hugely contributed to the Romanian economic and cultural life, including of course the field of architecture. One of most famous representatives was Marcel Janco, an architectural designer of extraordinary talent, pioneer of the International Modernist Style, and a founding member of the Dada movement that initiated the surrealist art in Europe. The community suffered incalculable loses and tragedy during the Holocaust at the hands of the local fascist war time government, a fact only recently officially recognized by post-communist Romania.

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I endeavor through this daily image series to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural 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 locating 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.

Inter-War International Modernist Apartment Block

Bucharest international modernist inter-war appartment block, Cismigiu area (Valentin Mandache)
Bucharest international modernist inter-war apartment block, Cismigiu area (©Valentin Mandache)

It is less known that in the inter-war period Bucharest was at the vanguard of European modernist artistic movements, a fact which only recently has started to be seriously unearthed by western scholars. Notable is the surrealist Dada movement in literature and painting that has its origins among the Jewish Bucharest intellectuals and their milieu in Romania’s capital or the remarkable architectural international modernist style experiments and creations that still embelish large areas of the city. The photograph above presents one of those beautiful products of that era: an excellently designed late 1930s apartment block in the Cismigiu area of Bucharest. I found very appealing its airy, delicate design and how the different facets of the building take advantage of all the available light, providing it in generous amounts to each separate apartment. Also the top floor apartments have circular light wells in the balcony ceiling, an innovation which makes this edifice even more remarkable for its pioneering times. I have to confess that I have not yet seen such an imaginative and resourceful design among the contemporary post-communist Romanian architects with their mostly characterless, usually poorly desinged bombastic creations that litter now Bucharest as the result of the recent property development boom.

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I endeavor through this daily image series to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural heritage.

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

If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in locating 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.