Images from the Cismigiu architectural history & photography tour

Architectural history and photography tour in Cismigiu area, 26 June '11, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

We had a very dense architectural tour last Sunday in the Cismigiu area of Bucharest, with the above photomontage probably conveying something from that reality on the ground. This quarter of Romania’s capital is packed with the remarkable creations of some of the most famous native and foreign born architects, active on the local market starting with the last decades of the c19th; personalities such as Giulio Magni, Horia and Ion Creanga, Ion and Tiberiu Niga, Nicolae Cucu, Gheorghe Simotta, Petre Antonescu or Emil Günes, to cite just some of them. Among the many edifices viewed, I also had the opportunity to show and describe to the participants about the less known or even enigmatic details of this brimful with architectural marvels area. One of them is seen at the centre of the photomontage, the bas-relief, adorning a grand Neo-Romanian style building, depicting King Ferdinand and Queen Marie of Romania in the ceremonial robes from the Alba Iulia coronation that took place in 1922. The panel is very difficult to notice from the street level and probably that is why it escaped the communist era frenzy of destruction of monuments and buildings connected with the royal past. The tour participants were very international, coming from places like Thailand, France and of course this country. I was honoured to see such a high level of interest in this aspect of Bucharest’s identity and heritage. I trust that the participants had thus a nice and productive intellectual day out!

The next Sunday (3 July ’11, 9am-12.00) architectural history and photography tour will take place in Foisorul de Foc (Fire Watchtower) quarter, east-central Bucharest (see a map at this link); meeting point: in front of the Greek Church (the one like an ancient Greek temple from Pache Protopopescu square). I look forward to seeing you there!

Architectural history and photography tour in Cismigiu area, Bucharest (photo: arch. Daniela Puia)

With the participants at the tour, detailing the intricacies of the early Neo-Romanian style of the Ministry of Education building.

Architectural history and photography tour in Cismigiu area, Bucharest (photo: Dana Cernat)

The tour participants walking within the the round of the classics of the Romanian literature in Cismigiu Park, a landscape architecture design, created to lift the morale at the height of the Second World War when the country was losing hundred of thousands soldiers in the senseless alliance with Nazi Germany at the battle of Stalingrad.

Architectural history and photography tour in Cismigiu area, Bucharest (photo: arch. Daniela Puia)

Tour participants together, admiring the majestic outlines of the Cretzulescu Palace (beginning of c20th), a French Renaissance revival style edifice, one of the early creations of the great architect Petre Antonescu.

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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.

The dancing Art Nouveau style graces of Mantuleasa quarter

Below are two interesting Art Nouveau style bas-relief panels dating from the 1890s representing scenes with dancing graces, inspired from ancient Greek and Roman mythology, located in Mantuleasa area of Bucharest. The dancing graces motif was frequently encountered in Art Nouveau visual arts compositions, being promoted by greats such as the actress Sarah Bernhard, the painter Alphonse Mucha, so important for the Art Nouveau current, who used the beautiful Sarah Bernhard as his model, or the dramatist Edmond Rostand to cite just a few.

The panels presented here were produced, in my opinion, as a direct consequence of Sarah Bernhardt’s presence in the mid 1890s Bucharest when she and her theatre company performed widely acclaimed plays at the National Theatre that comprised dancing graces scenes and also because of the popularity of Edmond Rostand’s writings among the high society of Bucharest who at parties and gatherings in their palaces acted in his plays, clad in fairy costumes similar with those presented in these architectural panels. Even the then Queen Elizabeth of Romania and Marie, the Crown Princess, were known to have acted at the Royal Palace in such plays by Rostand.

Dancing graces, Art Nouveau style in Mantuleasa quarter, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The panel above shows a group of dancing graces, accompanied by music from a flute and tambourine in a scene imagined from the ancient classical mythology (dionysian mysteries if we judge after the grape fruit used as headdresses or some kind of harvest festival).

Dancing graces, Art Nouveau style in Mantuleasa quarter, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The second Mantuleasa dancing graces panel presents a group of teenage looking female personages, holding each other and also carelessly revelling, accompanied by a Greek flute (syrinx) and tambourine, which somehow reminds me of the Dionysian initiation mysteries from the great fresco at the Villa of the Misteries in Pompeii. I like the grace standing alone on the left hand side of the panel, which holds in her hand an open papyrus scroll, a personification Calliope, the muse of poetry, perhaps.

Dancing graces, Art Nouveau style in Mantuleasa quarter, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The photograph above shows the house hosting the two Art Nouveau style dancing graces panels from the Mantuleasa quarter of Bucharest. The overall architectural style of the house is a modest Beaux Arts, which is greatly enhanced by those wonderful bas-reliefs, constituting a reminder of the wonderful and creative years experienced by this city during the Fin de Siécle period.