Masonic Symbol on a Neo-Romanian Style Panel

Masonic symbol on a Neo-Romanian style panel that adorns a late 1930s house in the Cotroceni area of Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

The freemasonry had an important presence within the Romanian elite since early c19th until the communist takeover in 1948. The influential pan-European networking conducted among its members of various nationalities and their often close associations had in a certain measure impacted positively the course and outcome of pivotal moments in recent Romanian history such as the 1848 Revolution, unification of the Danubian Principalities in 1859 that resulted in the creation of the modern Romanian state or the backstage negotiations of the auspicious peace treaty conditions referring to Romania that concluded the Great War. The communist regime prosecuted the freemasonry, perceiving its members as implacable class enemies. The organisation was forbidden and many freemasons ended up in the communist prisons. The masonic symbols were systematically erased from the building façades and interiors and its memory confined to the “dustbin of history”, as the communists liked to say. I was therefore quite thrilled to find the rare surviving symbol, presented in the photograph above, located at the centre of a decorative panel that embellishes a house built in the late 1930s in a mix of standard Neo-Romanian architecture and what I call inter-war Venetian style, from the Cotroceni area of Bucharest. It is in a quite discreet position, relatively high above the ground, on a side façade and under a large tree canopy. I have not been able to fully decipher the significance of this symbol consisting of a compass and an inverse equilateral triangle within a toothed circle. I hope that someone among my readers would offer a clue! Another reason why I think the communists left it alone was because it also resembles an inoffensive  professional symbol/ logo, such as that of a draughtsman or mechanical engineer and interpreted that way by the officials of that era, a quite ignorant lot in fine matters pertaining to symbols or decorative arts.


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 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.