Wallachian Art Nouveau

The city of Targoviste, 80 km north-west of Bucharest and a former capital of the old principality of Wallachia, has managed to preserve an important proportion of its architectural heritage during the last seven decades of communist misrule and post-communist wild transition to a market economy in Romania. It has also weathered quite well the calamitous property boom of 2000 -’08, which saw destruction of historic public and private buildings on a larger scale than throughout the entire communist period. One of those interesting historic architecture examples preserved in Targoviste is the house presented in the photographs bellow, displaying Neo-Romanian elements in an Art Nouveau guise. It dates probably from the 1900s and shows signs of extensive subsequent alterations. The edifice is located at one end of city’s old commercial street, near the beautiful Beaux Arts style Targoviste town hall, about which I wrote an article at this link. The Neo-Romanian style has evolved in large part, during its initial stages, within the Art Nouveau current and this building is an interesting product of that period. I apologise for the differences in shade and colour intensity between photographs, due to the various hours and light conditions in which they were shot and subsequently processed.

Wallachian Art Nouveau, house dating from the 1900s, Targoviste (©Valentin Mandache)

I like the Romanian ethnographic motifs giving personality to this house such as the wood carved poles embellishing the oriel balcony or the frieze modelling a peasant embroidery that decorates its street façade.

Targoviste Art Nouveau house displaying Neo-Romanian motifs, house dating from the 1900s (©Valentin Mandache)

The main widow is also a Neo-Romanian type, making references to a church triptych, rendered in an Art Nouveau manner. The geometrical pattern of the wall frieze, easily discernible in this photograph, is inspired from peasant embroideries found in this area of Wallachia.

Neo-Romanian triptych type window in an Art Nouveau guise, 1900s house, Targoviste (©Valentin Mandache)
Wallachian Art Nouveau, house dating from the 1900s, Targoviste (©Valentin Mandache)

The above image shows the oriel balcony adorned with wooden poles carved in a similar manner with those encountered in Wallachian peasant houses.

Wallachian Art Nouveau, detail of the oriel balcony, house dating from the 1900s, Targoviste (©Valentin Mandache)

The main Art Nouveau trait in the design of the balcony is the circle arch, spanning the wooden poles, a reference to the Islamic inspired medieval and early modern architecture of the Ottoman Balkans, a region that also encompassed the former principality of Wallachia.

Wallachian Art Nouveau, the carved wooden poles of the oriel balcony, house dating from the 1900s, Targoviste (©Valentin Mandache)
Wallachian Art Nouveau, side entrance and widows, house dating from the 1900s, Targoviste (©Valentin Mandache)

Other Art Nouveau elements, which are not related to Neo-Romanians motifs, are the two simple doorways embellishing the side of the house, the more remarkable of them looking inspired from the design of a Rennie Mackintosh Argyle chair.

Wallachian Art Nouveau, side doorway (Argyle chair motif), house dating from the 1900s, Targoviste (©Valentin Mandache)
Wallachian Art Nouveau,side doorway, house dating from the 1900s, Targoviste (©Valentin Mandache)

There is another similar design building in Targoviste, about 0.5km away toward the old princely courts, presumably the work of the same architect(s), about whom I hope to find out details in my future fieldtrips to this wonderful southern Romanian city.


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.